“Friendship is unnecessary,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
In a marriage, we can believe that our spouse is our best friend. In some marriages, our spouse might be our only friend. When we divorce, it may become glaringly obvious that without our spouse, we have no social ties, network or friends of our own. In my life, after a 25 year first marriage with few friends and a 2nd almost 10 year marriage with many, the difference is critical to my satisfaction and confidence in navigating the natural ups and downs of daily married life. When isolation happens by choice or drifts that way over time, it can be daunting indeed to think about feeling truly alone in the world after a divorce.
Part of the grief of a divorce is that you may feel you’ve lost your best friend, that person with whom you shared so much of what matters to you. Then consider the adversarial process itself. A common refrain we hear from one or both parties as negotiations get down to brass tacks is, “Who are you?” This usually happens at the moment the party with the quieter voice finds theirs to ask for what’s rightfully theirs under the law. No one has actually changed but they have probably forever changed how they carry themselves in the world going forward.
It can be an important goal to be friends with your ex-spouse when children tie you together for the rest of your natural lives. Realistic ideas about friendship can include that there may be some kind of break during and after negotiations that can be healed as time passes and everyone regains their footing. This can take 2-5 years or longer. It also takes attention like any important friendship. It may require new boundaries however.
Then there is the important matter of building friendships post marriage unrelated to any partner. We’re older, generally less open minded and we’ve just been through a turbo charged washing machine of emotions. There is risk and work in making and keeping a friend, but even more risk if you don’t try. Having a friend means being one, it takes nurturing and paying attention. It is a good use of time. True wealth includes having friendships and after divorce, a healthy, loving friendship is one of life’s brass rings.
Bonnie A. Sewell, CFP®, CDFA™, AIF® is NOT AN ATTORNEY AND DOES NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE. All information he provides is financial in nature and should not be construed or relied upon as legal or tax advice. Individuals seeking legal or tax advice should solicit the counsel of competent legal professionals knowledgeable about the divorce laws in their own geographical areas or CPAs qualified to provide tax advice.
DISCLOSURE: All of the above is believed to be accurate but should be considered informational only and should not be considered financial, tax, or legal advice. Seek advice from a paid professional under contract to you.
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