We're Divorced - Cut the Cord Already!

How many of you have gone through a divorce or have had close friends and family members divorce? We bet it’s at least one out of two readers! So many of us have had our lives touched in some way by divorce, and that fact doesn’t seem that it will change anytime soon. So we often have clients come to us after a divorce to talk (complain?) about an ex who won’t let go. It’s the classic “cut the cord” syndrome and unfortunately we don’t always have a good answer. But, here’s what we have learned over the years in our family law practice in Annapolis, Maryland.

One of the first things that happen at birth is cutting of the umbilical cord – the life-giving tie between mother and child. Whether it’s the proud parent or the medical professional making the cut, the important fact is that the child is now living on its own outside of the protective cocoon of the mother’s womb. The same type of experience happens after a divorce, but for some people it takes a long time to sever the ties that bind.

There’s the financial tie between spouses that is difficult to cut. In most cases, the couple has been married for years and the co-mingling of money and assets was routine. Now with the divorce, despite the best efforts of the professionals and the parties, it can be difficult for one or both of the parties to fully accept the new financial scheme. If one spouse always relied on the other for spending money, household expenses money, or even a clothing or travel allowance, it can be difficult for that spouse to turn off that thinking and behavior. The needy spouse may be so conditioned to rely on the providing spouse that he/she cannot automatically stop asking for more financial support. Of course, the final divorce agreement will address the matter, but that may not stop an ex from asking for more, more, more.

There’s also the sexual tie that needs a permanent break. One of the benefits of marriage since the beginning of time has been the physical relationship between spouses. Whether for procreation or recreation, it can be difficult to sever the sexual relationship with an ex. More than a few divorcing or recently divorced couples have revisited the marital relations bed and frankly that rarely brings long term satisfaction to either party. While we recognize that a mutually agreeable and satisfying sexual relationship can be possible between exes, it’s better to cut that cord to prevent further emotional entanglements and estrangements.

Finally there’s the emotional cord and this one is really a composite of all the ties that bind a couple in marriage. No one could argue that money and sex don’t play roles in further tightening an emotion tie. While this cord may never be fully severed if there are children involved – let’s face it, you need to co-parent with your ex – it does need to be only a child-centered emotional cord. Any other emotional ties will keep you and your ex from living apart successfully as mature, independent adults.

There is a reason (or more likely many reasons) why you decided to divorce, and you must watch out for the ties that bind you to your ex. Just as when the doctor first separated you from your mother so that you could make it on your own, a divorce decree should serve the same purpose for couples who have decided to live life apart and that includes cutting all the cords.


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