The stresses placed on divorcing couples, who are making decisions about custody, spousal support, equitable distribution and parenting plans are not unlike those of air-traffic controllers, who are trying to safely land multiple jumbo jets coming in on multiple runways. Perhaps these aren’t life or death decisions, but that depends entirely on your perspective!
I can’t take credit for this brilliant and so-directly-on-point analogy, but am borrowing it for the sake of this conversation. I hope it’s useful to anyone going through the divorce process today, or for those stuck in the seemingly never-ending post-divorce arguments that annoy, irritate and frustrate us.
We embark on the divorce journey for many reasons. For some, it’s a joint decision made, when it’s clear that the marriage isn’t working. For others, it was one spouse taking the initiative to raise the flag and take those first steps. Some go voluntarily into the process, and some go kicking and screaming, maintaining their status as “victim” in their broken fairytale. Regardless of how the travel plans were made, you are nevertheless taking this trip, and are forced to make many inter-related decisions that will ultimately affect your life and the lives of your kids. And you’re forced to do this while stressed, emotional and exhausted.
Landing The Planes Peacefully, Without Causing a Collision
Going back to our air-traffic controller analogy, it’s time to look at the full picture, but take one thing at time. To decrease the risk of mid-air collisions, follow the PEACE acronym: Parenting Plan, Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Child Support and Everything Else! This model allows for singular focus on a particular topic until agreement is reached, before moving to the next topic. Land the plane carrying the Parenting Plan first, and park it safely at the gate. Next, coax in the jumbo jet carrying discussions of equitable distribution and divvying up your marital estate. Alimony and Child Support discussions, which are often more formulary-driven and based on actual financial calculations, are like small aircrafts, circling the skies until ready for that final approach.
But before you drop the wheels and prepare for that final approach, check all of the instruments. Use them as your guide, but try to also use your own senses to visualize the runway. Think about the Parenting Plan as a living, breathing document that will continue to flex and grow as your children get older and their needs change. Okay, so maybe hundreds of lives aren’t at stake if you don’t get your parenting plan done right, but the impact on your children’s’ lives is significant if you fail to recognize that it’s about much more than timesharing/calendaring.
Now the landing strip is within your visual range, and you can see the control tower when you peek just slightly under the clouds! This is the final stretch of your journey, as you approach the courthouse steps and respectfully ask the Judge to grant your request and issue a Final Divorce Decree. As the wheels touch down, you can feel that sense of relief as you taxi towards the gate. Once parked, you can hear the bell ring as the flight attendant announces that you’ve reached your destination. After grabbing your luggage and pushing your way down the aisle, you de-board the aircraft and begin your final journey. “Granted,” you hear the judge say, and you know that you’ve finally made it.