Valentine’s Day during a divorce is particularly tough. It is different from getting through Christmas morning without your kids or getting through Thanksgiving without all of the secretly loved chaos of extended family being around the table. Valentine’s Day is a pronounced reminder of the heartache you feel.
Valentine’s Day is primarily about what I will dub Expectation Management hereinafter referred to as “EM.” (I have to sound like a lawyer some of the time, right?) This day is tragically designed to build up romantic expectations of men and women alike, usually to result in disappointment because expectations weren’t clear or managed.
Looking at your own expectations is a useful exercise around any event, dream, or goal. To tell the truth about what you really want and why it is meaningful to you. To write it down. To make it real. And when appropriate, to share it with the person or persons who have a stake in meeting or failing to meet your expectations.
Evaluating EM is crucial during a divorce. Take time to write out the expectations you have for your children, for your financial future, for your post-divorce relationship with your former spouse. Then evaluate the underlying feelings or needs that produce the expectation. What are the worries you are trying to alleviate? What are the joys you are trying to produce? Are there other ways to accomplish what you expect that are more reliant on your own actions?
During this Valentine’s Day, erase old expectations about Valentine’s Day, instead focus on those around you who are supporting and loving you during this journey: your children, your co-workers, your neighbors, your advisors (and your lawyer J). Expect nothing ~ but appreciate those people carrying you now ~ and you may soon find your heart filled up.