One of the tasks on nearly everyone’s to-do list this time of year is spring cleaning. After having our homes closed up for the winter, it’s nice to open up the windows and make our homes spick-and-span. I guess it goes along with spring in general since it’s when nature is new and fresh again.
As I was thinking about my own spring cleaning, I started to wonder about the possibility of spring cleaning our relationships. (Yes, technically I guess this thought process counts as procrastinating, but I’ll leave that discussion, the bucket of cleaning supplies, and the toilet for another time.)
I realized that relationships, just like our homes, need to be refreshed, cleaned up and have all the junk removed from them periodically.
There is plenty of advice on the web for what you need to do to thoroughly spring clean your home, but I’ll bet this will be your first list of what to do to spring clean your relationships!
1. Get rid of the junk – lots of people have relationships in which they can’t be themselves; they’re always acting and pretending to be what the other person wants. These types of relationships are junk because you’re not able to be authentically you and they’re very draining.
Now when I say get rid of the junk relationships, I don’t necessarily mean get rid of the relationship itself. What I mean is that the way the relationship currently exists needs to change. It needs to change in a way that allows you to be completely yourself and allows the other person to be completely themselves too.
2. Air things out – at some time or another, we’ve all chosen to keep quiet and stew over something that’s happened in a relationship. I know it was probably the best answer at the time we made it, but it’s not the best answer in the long term. The reason is that these things can cause resentment and undermine a relationship.
Taking great care of relationships means that it’s important we take the time to clear the air by addressing what needs to be addressed and/or forgiving what needs to be forgiven so we can breathe easier within each of our relationships.
3. Clean all the surfaces – our best relationships are multi-faceted. They support us in all kinds of ways. We share our lives with each other – the joys, sadnesses, fears and triumphs. We give each other room to dream about how we want our lives to be and we help each other accomplish our dreams. We also have fun together – lots of fun!
It’s worth the time to think about each relationship and figure out how each facet within it is working. Are both people feeling supported and sharing the important stuff along with the superficial? When’s the last time you just had some fun together?
Although this list only has 3 items on it, completing these tasks will definitely require some work. But let me assure you that the work is DEFINITELY worth it because, as my husband likes to regularly remind me, no one is an island and we all do better when our relationships are working.
Now that I’ve completed my thoughts on spring cleaning relationships, I guess it’s time to give my attention back to the bucket of cleaning supplies and the toilet.
Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:
Pick out a relationship you’d like to spruce up for spring. Each of our relationships can use a periodic renewal. Pick the one you’d like to focus on improving.
Start with the junk. What are the ways you’re not being 100% you in the relationship you want to spruce up? Are you suspicious that the other person isn’t being 100% themselves? If there is any lack of authenticity within the relationship, you’ll probably want to help each other to be 100% authentic or else decide the relationship is not going to be a deep one.
Open the windows of communication. Once you know the relationship is worth keeping and nurturing, you’ll want to be sure and air out what needs to be aired. Letting go of past grievances either by talking about them and/or by forgiving them will definitely breathe new life into any relationship.
Get out your white glove and check all the surfaces. Since every relationship is multi-faceted, taking some time to make sure every surface of your relationship is working for both of you is vital to growing and improving it.
Repeat as necessary and enjoy the rest of the year with your renewed relationships.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
This is a terrific article. It’s jam-packed with information that I am so happy to be able to share! I’ve added just a few comments in square brackets .
If you are going through a divorce, you are probably exhausted by all the details and decisions that have to be made as the two of you separate. Even in the most amicable situations it can be very emotional. [Remember there are the 5 facets of divorce – social, emotional, legal, financial and functional – that all overlap. So it makes sense that in the midst of making the decisions required to divorce that you would experience a lot of emotions.]
There is usually a lot of discussion about the house as it usually represents the family’s largest asset. [Dealing with an asset would be an example of the financial facet of divorce. When dealing with the financial facet of divorce it’s best to remain primarily in a business mindset instead of an emotional one because you’ll be better able to make decisions you can live with for the long haul.]
While divorce is a tough process, resolving the mortgage doesn’t have to be. According to Mark Watson, Vice President of Guardian Mortgage Company in Plano, Texas, there are three things homeowners can do to make it easier on themselves:
- Make realistic decisions.
- Understand your loan options.
- Seek help.
Make Realistic Decisions.
In many divorces, the home is refinanced in the name of one of the spouses and any profit or losses are negotiated between the couple. Sometimes the home is sold, and sometimes there is a long-term agreement in place about the home. Occasionally, a house with no mortgage is given to one spouse as part of the divorce settlement.
“It makes no difference to the mortgage company whether or not the name changes on the mortgage,” notes Watson. “However, the spouse no longer living in the home usually does not want to be responsible for it. Plus, they may want some cash out of it.”
If your house is paid off, a quit claim deed can be an easy solution to home ownership in a divorce settlement and make your life after divorce easier.
If there is no mortgage on the home, and one spouse plans to keep it as part of the settlement, the process is simple. “The attorney prepares a quit-claim deed and records it as part of the divorce,” says Watson. “The home belongs to just one spouse from that point forward.”
Most homes have a mortgage, though. There are a number of questions that must be answered in order to pick the right process for your situation, but the most important is “which spouse can afford to keep the home after the divorce?” It is often the most difficult as there is often a lot of emotional attachment towards the house that may not have anything to do with the financial realities of the situation. [The best way to answer these questions is from a business-minded perspective. The “businesses” to be considered are the financial business of each spouse post-divorce as well as the business of raising happy, healthy children. In other words, you need to keep in mind what your life after divorce will really be like if you choose to keep the house.]
The spouse with primary custody of the children will often want to keep the home to provide a stable environment and to stay near school and friends.
“I often see couples where the wife isn’t working and hasn’t worked in years,” says Bruce Rayburn of The Rayburn Group of Ebby Halliday Realtors based in Plano, Texas. “This makes it very hard to qualify for a refinance. Even if both spouses were working at the time of the divorce, it doesn’t mean either spouse can afford the mortgage with only one salary.”
“Even getting child support is often not enough,” Rayburn adds.
Besides the amount of income required to qualify for a refinance, the source of the income makes a difference. “For conforming loans ($417,000 or less in most areas of Texas), alimony and child support cannot count towards qualifying income until there have been at least three months of steady payments. In addition, the paying spouse must be required by law to pay for at least three years after the closing date of the sale,” notes Watson.
“For FHA Loans, the requirement is six months of payment. Furthermore, if the amount of alimony or child support is greater than 30% of the borrower’s income, then a full year’s worth of reliable payments is required.”
[Regardless of where you live you need to know a lot about what the legalities and implications of keeping the house are as you make decisions that will impact your post-divorce lifestyle and residence.]
Understand Your Loan Options.
Many couples believe that they have to sell or refinance the home in order to finalize the divorce, which is not always the case. Sometimes sale or refinance of the home is delayed for months to years.
According to attorney Penny Phillips of Plano, Texas, many families with children want to keep the family home for them until they are older and/or in college. “In this case, one spouse will sometimes agree to wait to get the equity out of the house until after the children have left,” says Phillips.
In Texas, a lien can be placed on the house – called an Owelty Lien Agreement – such that one spouse will own the house, but the other will still retain rights to equity that was present in the house at the time of the divorce. This gives the first spouse the right to make improvements and to own the home, but the second spouse will get his or her share of the equity later when the kids are grown or the market improves or whatever reason the couple has chosen to wait.
“It is a win-win because the owner-spouse gets the benefit of all improvements and equity growth in the meantime, but the other spouse still gets the benefit of all the years of contributing to the equity when they were married,” adds Phillips.
“Since the home is not sold or refinanced, there is no need for the remaining spouse to get qualified for a new mortgage until the cash-out time. They just need to keep making timely payments. This is a good solution for situations where the divorce is fairly amicable and the spouses can work together for this common goal. I always advise that they tell the mortgage company about the divorce, however, as both partners need to continue to get notices about the loan,” says Phillips.
[Keep in mind that just because a divorce starts out amicably doesn’t mean it will stay that way. So making sure that both spouses continue to get notices about the loan is a smart decision. After all, keeping life after divorce amicable between exes requires regular, respectful communication, but tempers can still flare despite the best efforts.]
“We generally see Owelty Liens when a couple is in the process of refinancing the home,” notes Watson. “You don’t need to wait a specific amount of time to use it, and it has the added benefit of letting you do a “special purpose” refinance and go up to 95% of the appraised value of the home. This provides more equity at the end of the process.
“Current “cash-out” guidelines for refinancing in Texas allow for financing up to 80% of the loan value. A special purpose refinance allows you to get an extra 15% out of the home, which is then shared between the couple as per the terms of their divorce. I always talk to my clients about Owelty Liens because it can make a big difference if one partner is trying to buy another home, for example. Also, if the other partner finds out after the fact that they could have gotten more cash out of the refinance and didn’t, it can cause more unhappiness all around.”
Dividing up the marriage assets is emotional and financially risky if you are not sure what you are doing. Early in the divorce, both spouses should consult their mortgage provider, realtor and CPA as well as an attorney in order to review their options and the financial and tax consequences of certain decisions. These objective outsiders will help you navigate your particular situation and direct you to other resources. In addition, they can act as a go-between if the divorce is contentious.
[One other divorce professional you may want to contact when dealing with the financial questions of divorce is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. These professionals are trained in how to help couples develop different scenarios for an equitable division of their assets and debts so they’ll each have a better picture of what their financial life after divorce will be like.]
“It is a false economy to do a divorce yourself. I’ve seen couples ruin their credit by doing it wrong. In one case, so many mistakes were made; one partner almost went to jail. It’s not worth it,” said Phillips. “Plus the experts can tell you about Owelty Liens and other ways to get the best out of a bad situation.”
“Lack of communication makes the divorce harder,” says Rayburn. “I often will work with both spouses in a divorce to help sell the old home, refinance and/or find a new, less expensive home if that is their post-divorce reality. I’ve even helped people through multiple relationships over the years because I was able to facilitate communications between the parties.”
“I often give my clients a list of good appraisers to call on,” says Watson. “Even if they don’t plan to sell or refinance right away, they need an appraisal in order to fairly determine the value of the home for the divorce settlement. I can then take that appraisal and show them how much equity is in the house so they can have more meaningful discussions.”
As with most issues related to divorce, there is no single best way to handle your mortgage. Divorcing couples must take a long look at their finances, and make realistic decisions based on a thorough understanding of their options.
Have more questions about how to handle your mortgage through divorce? Contact an experienced loan officer like Mark Watson at Guardian Mortgage Company today about your specific situation. Guardian Mortgage Company has been serving North Texas since 1965. Mark Watson (214) 473-7954.
Your Life After Divorce Assignment:
If you’re at the point of trying to decide what to do with the marital home, focus on the business decision you need to make. Despite how much you are attached to your home, the fact is it’s just a thing, a place. Spending your energy deciding how to best deal with this marital asset instead of what it represents will help you come to the best decision for you – the decision that you’ll be most comfortable with financially and emotionally in the long haul.
If it’s difficult for you to separate the business aspect of this decision from the emotional one, give me a call at 817-993-0561 so we can schedule a Complimentary Consultation and together we’ll figure out a way for you to have an easier time making the decisions you need to make as part of your divorce and make your life after divorce as good as it can be.
You don’t have to go through this alone. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor. I understand what you’re going through because I’ve been through it too. I’ve been helping people just like you who are dealing with all the stress and pain of divorce since 2007. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice or email me directly for a free consultation at Karen@functionaldivorce.com.
Are you looking for more tips about setting yourself up for your best possible post-divorce life? You can find more great information at Life After Divorce.
Life changes a lot when you separate and divorce. Things that used to be a regular part of life just aren’t anymore. And when things change in unexpected ways, we can get scared, frustrated and angry.
When clients begin working with me, they’re usually experiencing some combination of fear, frustration and anger. One of the first things we do is dive into what’s behind or at the root of these emotions. What we usually discover on our deep dive are limits that have been disregarded in some way. The limits could be behaviors, expectations, thoughts, beliefs or even habits.
The identification of your personal limits is a critical part of restructuring your life during and after divorce.
Some people are quite adept at identifying their limits – what they can and can’t do, what they think and why they think it, what they expect and why they expect it and what their habits of thought, belief, response and action are.
Others aren’t as aware of their limits. They aren’t quite sure of what their limits are or even if they want to know because they do and think what others tell them to.
And then there are people everywhere in between these two extremes.
Regardless of your starting point, I think knowing and understanding your limits is one of the key pieces to successfully navigating divorce. Your limits can help you understand what’s truly important to you as you negotiate your settlement. And knowing your limits will even allow you to ask for help and support when you need it.
Your limits will be tested, pushed, prodded, and beat against before, during, and after your separation and divorce. Who’s doing all this “exploring”? EVERYONE. Or at least it will probably feel that way. However, the chief “explorers” are usually your soon-to-be-ex and you. I’ll bet you already get how your soon-to-be-ex figures in here, but did you expect to also be one the chief “explorers”? The thing is that by virtue of going through the divorce process you’re asking yourself to completely redefine what your life is like. And anytime you or anyone else changes it’s a matter of testing and exploring previous limits.
I know all the testing, pushing, prodding, and beating against limits is at a minimum uncomfortable and at worst excruciating. However, the payoff is either an adjustment or a reaffirming of your limits along with, ideally, improved ways of communicating them to yourself and others. With your new limits you’re most often better off than you were with your old limits. Kinda like that old adage – what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
Great, right? There’s going to be some struggle and then things will be better. UGH! There’s nothing there about how to make the transition from married to divorce easier! And here’s where I’m going to tell you that the way to make things easier is to be flexible and loving while you’re exploring your limits so you can adjust and evaluate them by choice instead of by force.
By allowing yourself to be flexible as you explore your limits you’ll be much more able to understand and choose what to do with your limits and your life as you move forward through your divorce process. The flexibility will also allow you to negotiate from a more confident spot because you’ll be able to more easily see the options available to you. Developing the ability to be flexible will help you now as you’re navigating your divorce, but throughout your life.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Know your limits. As you’re proceeding through your separation and divorce process take note of your limits. You’ll probably become aware of them most easily when you’re experiencing a strong emotion.
Explore your limits. Once you’ve identified a limit, ask yourself questions like “How did I develop this limit?”, “What’s the benefit of this limit?”, and “What might adjusting this limit be like?” Take note of what you discover about yourself.
Adjust your limits. Exploring limits almost always gives you new ideas of how to be, act, and think. Take advantage of your discoveries and adjust your limits in ways that make you feel wonderful!
As always, I’m here if you need some help in increasing your flexibility. You can reach my by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 817-993-0561.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
© 2012 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139-143
Divorce is one of those times when we notice that people exit from our lives and the roles and responsibilities we shared with them no longer make sense. Many of these roles and responsibilities are ones we probably took for granted when these people were regularly in our lives. But now that they aren’t we just might find ourselves at a loss for how to get these unfilled roles filled.
Unlike a production of one of Shakespeare’s plays, we don’t usually have an understudy that will step up in if the person currently fulfilling a role suddenly isn’t there any more. This is where we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the functional divorce.
1. The first step is to identify which roles and responsibilities have been dropped.
To help you get started here are some roles and responsibilities people struggle with when they divorce. Well, they range widely – from the simple to the complex. Here is a partial list of what you might be struggling with:
-Chef/cook -Budgeter/Bill payer -Mom/Dad -Home maintainer -Lover/loved -Primary wage earner -Maid/butler -Laundry/Dry cleaning expert -Grocery Shopper -Investor
We struggle with roles and responsibilities when we get divorced because in a sense we’ve allowed ourselves and our spouses to become type-cast. We get used to how we’ve been living and how we’ve been living with our spouse. When we get separated/divorced, all the roles we’ve become so adept at are suddenly changed. We can feel overwhelmed about how much we’ve now got to do. We might feel a sense of freedom about how much less we have to do or we might have a sense of fear about how much less we have to do. Most likely, we feel a combination of it all.
2. The second step is to prioritize the order in which the unfilled roles need to be filled.
Not everything needs to be done at once. Which is the most critical role that needs to get covered? And after that is taken care of which is next most critical. Go through your entire list and prioritize each and every roll you’ve identified.
3. The third step is to develop your game plan for getting the most urgent roles filled.
Yes, you’ll probably have to work on multiple roles at once. I wish it was easier, but divorce is difficult at times. What I can tell you is that by taking a systematic approach to your functional divorce you will establish your new normal much more quickly. The benefit of that is a decrease in the stress and strain you (and your kids) are experiencing as a result of your divorce.
Taking a good look at the roles and responsibilities you had in your marriage and how they are changing as a result of your separation/divorce is critical to decreasing the stress and strain you experience. By having a good feel for how things are changing and what you can do to make it easier on yourself and your kids will go a long way toward getting you and your kids settled in your new roles. You can think of this experience as a script change and you are the chief writer who is determined to end the story happily.
You Functional Divorce Assignment:
Make your own list of roles and responsibilities that are impacted by your divorce. Use the list above to give you inspiration and come up with all the roles and responsibilities that you are now faced with covering.
Prioritize your list. Yes, there are a lot of things that in flux when you get divorced, but not all of them are top priority. Which are the most immediately important and which can wait for a bit.
Develop a game plan. How will you incorporate your new roles and responsibilities into your life? The important thing here is to make sure your game plan is realistic and achievable.
It’s OK to ask someone for help. Sometimes the parts you realize you now need to or want to play in your life are way different from anything you’ve ever done before. If that’s the case for you, I want to encourage you to ask for help. The right help at the right time can make all the difference in how quickly you can reach the happy ending to your divorce experience.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice.