So, you just got served????
Yay!! How’s your ice cream? Oh? Is it not ice cream? Oh no!! ….
I probably shouldn’t be joking about something that isn’t funny. Because, really, it isn’t. But you have to laugh, so you don’t drown in your tears. And if you hang in there, the day will come when you can talk about your divorce without crying.
My prayer for you is that God’s work of healing in you will be so complete that a day will come when you can talk about what happened and laugh…the deep belly kind of laugh!!
So, you got served divorce papers???
Some years ago, when I realized that I was about to be divorced, I didn’t even know what it meant to be served divorce papers. I went on google to find out what to do when you’re about to be divorced, I was so clueless!
I live in the United States and getting formally served divorce papers (handed divorce papers from the court system) starts the divorce process. The day I got served, I had just picked my son up from school and there was a lady waiting outside my house. I instinctively knew why she was there. I told my son to go inside the house, she asked me for my name then handed me the papers.
I still remember the feelings of shock, fear, and sadness that came over me as I opened the envelope and saw a document that listed him vs me (hey!! wait a minute!! aren’t we on the same side??) and the names of our children. I couldn’t believe it was really happening. Every time that I got an email from my ex’s lawyer, my heart would start to pound. I was so confused and afraid.
Let me explain a little bit. I’m Nigerian-American (born and raised in Nigeria) and I had never been sued.
In my culture, you DO NOT get divorced. Especially if you’re female.
If he left you, it’s your fault, what did you do to make him do that??
If he beat you, what did you do to make him do that??
If he cheated on you, why didn’t you make him happier?
If you left him, why???????!!!!!!!
If you left him because he cheated on you, are you the only woman whose husband cheats? Suck it up.
If you left him because he beat you, you should be nicer and more polite so that he doesn’t have to do that.
Sigh…. you can’t win in my culture. However, I’m speaking in general terms. My family was a source of great support and help to me throughout that very dark time. I pray this is (or was) your experience as well.
God’s perfect plan for the family doesn’t include divorce
Let me be clear. I am NOT an advocate of divorce. That is not God’s plan for a family, although the grounds for biblical dissolution of a marriage are clear (abandonment, infidelity). It is also unwise for a woman to remain in an abusive situation.
I believe that every marriage can be successful if the two people involved want to be married and are willing to do the work and make the sacrifices that are necessary to keep the marriage strong. There is probably no emotional experience that is more painful than divorce.
The Bible (New Living Translation) says in Malachi 2:16….” to divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty”…., in the New King James version that same part of the verse says …”for it covers one’s garment with violence”. I understand that scripture in a very personal way.
At the time, my divorce felt like a violent tearing-apart, a rending. Many people describe their experience as feeling like death. It’s like mourning the “living dead”.and the rejection initially stings. But it’s not possible to be married to oneself….it takes two. I have since come to realize the many blessings in my divorce, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Some tips to help you navigate after you are served divorce papers
If you are in the process of getting divorced, here’s my high-level list of what to do after you’ve prayed, tried to get your spouse to get help (marriage counseling etc) and in general, you have done all you can to save your marriage.
- Cry! but turn your brain on!!!
- Depending on your circumstances and where you were married, you might need a lawyer. My suggestion would be to do your research and get a referral from someone you know. You need a good attorney who’s really on your side and will be a good advocate for you.
- Find a support group. My DivorceCare group really helped me deal with the maze of emotions and issues that I experienced.
- Get organized. If you didn’t have a handle on your family’s finances, get on top of it. Pronto!
- Spend some time thinking about what you are willing (and unwilling) to give up regarding child custody, the division of assets etc. This is not a fun process, but it is very important as neither of you will get everything you want in this “liquidation”. You must know the things that are non-negotiable for you. It would also be useful to figure out what your soon-to-be-ex really wants as these become your levers for negotiation.
- Do not use your lawyer as a therapist/counselor, this is very expensive! Talk to your pastor, family and close friends instead.
Above all, pray! Ask God for peace, wisdom, and favor with everyone involved in the process. Make sure that you don’t do anything that is contrary to your core values; you still need to be able to live with yourself when this is over. Keep your “side of the lane” clean. Watch your words, both to your ex and to others. Don’t allow yourself be drawn into ugly verbal arguments and be very careful about what you say in front of the kids.
The divorce process can be painful and ugly. But hang in there! This too shall pass. There are better days ahead.