Transitions in our personal lives signal a new journey tumbling with emotion, stress, and at times overwhelming our daily lives. Families aren’t predictable. Alliances are dynamic and change over time. Emotional responses interrupt our brain’s natural ability to think clearly, analyze data, and make plans appropriate to the situation. Some of that emotional stress interrupts
One of my best friends, Jim, is facing what he sees a tough road ahead. It’s not that he and his wife are separating; it’s the unwelcome help he’s receiving from his gym mates. One soccer buddy boasts that Jim must lead the troops and show the rest of the guys what we’re made of.
Whether you are entering into a relationship; already sharing a home together; or you or find yourself at the end of your marriage or long term partnership, developing a comprehensive prenuptial, cohabitation, marriage or separation agreement can be a daunting task.
How do you start? How do you create an ideal parenting plan? How do you divide the funds held in a joint account and who will carry the jointly held mortgage? Do the terms in your prenuptial agreement need to be reviewed when you decide to marry? What is the difference between a family home and a matrimonial home?
To create a viable long term agreement by directly involving you, a critical participant with your spouse or partner, requires acknowledging difficult emotions, distinguishing individual goals from interests in common, and being able to deal promptly with urgent needs. It also means ensuring that each spouse openly and fully shares with the other all information necessary to understand the big financial picture. Consider the current cash flow, future resources available for retirement, and savings available to fund the children’s post secondary educational programs. With each spouse fully understanding their legal rights and obligations and with complete financial information in hand, they will be able to critically assess all possible options: sorting the viable and durable ones from those which sound intriguing but are unsustainable. Working with a mutually agreed framework also helps to develop trust and consensus.
Introducing the Collaborative Process
I stopped to watch this little toddler and his encounter with a wrought iron railing. With his stuffed toy firmly in his little grip, he ventured confidently between two posts of the railing as though they didn’t exist. He quickly gained his balance standing on the bottom rail and excitedly waved his arms freely on the other side of the posts. He was fascinated that he could see his arms and his toy waving over there. His parents stopped in their tracks, turning to watch him with knowing expressions on their faces.
The toddler’s confidence slowly waned to insecurity. He became unsure how to continue forward with his beloved toy still in his grip. Without uttering a word, the father gently took the toy from the toddler’s hand, and watching the child’s eyes pop wide in wonder, the father moved the toy in a slow, gentle arc from in front of the child to beside the child outside the end post. The toddler followed the movement of his toy and stepping backwards, he freed himself. He joyfully reached out for his toy and fell back in step behind his parents.