Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Are You Getting Sound Advice?

Four principles for finding answers when you’re going through divorce

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.” — Erica Jong, novelist & poet

Every minute in America at least two marriages end in divorce. But for most couples, the decision is a process that happens over months — even years. As questions arise, it’s often difficult to know where to turn for sound advice. Here are four basic rules to consider when seeking guidance as you go through divorce.

Don’t Conduct a Poll

Opinions are like noses, everyone has one. If your objective is for greater clarity about your marital situation, polling your friends and family may just muddy the waters.

“Having many opinions does not always promise clarity,” says Guy Winch, Ph.D.,  and contributor to Psychology Today. “It’s best to ask a handful of people whose opinion you value rather than ask many people and risk confusing the issue further.”

Consider the Source

Of course, often well-meaning loved ones may offer their opinion whether you ask for it or not. Life coach Stephenie Zamora suggests considering the creditability of the source before taking their advice to heart. “Their opinion is biased and is based completely on their personal preferences, background, experiences and beliefs,” says Zamora. “The way they react is a reflection of them, not you.”

To weigh the value of advice, consider how it is offered. If the advice-giver is telling you exactly what to do, it should be taken with that proverbial grain of salt. On the other hand, if she simply provides her own example of personal experience, there may be something of value to be learned.

Understand Your Motive

Do you really want your best friend’s opinion, or are you after sympathy and support? “We often confuse seeking advice with seeking validation for a decision we’ve already made,” Winch says. “If you really want actual advice, you need to give thought to how you ask for it.”

When you do ask for advice, Winch suggests contemplating your question fully and “posing the essence of the problem directly, without suggesting possible solutions.” For example, instead of asking, “Should I get a divorce?” a more essential question might be, “How can I create an amicable relationship with my ex?”

Call in the Experts

No matter how understanding and supportive your friends and family are, they are probably not professionals in the fields of law or psychology. A skillful attorney who specializes in family law can help you find perspective when you feel you’re the only one in the world who’s gone through a difficult split. Likewise, a licensed therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist is trained to provide objective insight into your feelings of depression, anxiety or frustration beyond the immediate crisis.

Asking for advice during a difficult divorce can yield answers and relieve stress — if you are mindful of who you ask and how you go about gathering information. These simple principles may provide more than a solution — they may help ensure peace of mind.

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