Divorce is a negotiation. There are no black and white answers.

Could anything be worse than a stock market crash? Yes, divorce. Divorce is where we lose control and become misunderstood. It is also the place that will define who we are for the rest of our lives.

At the beginning of a divorce we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of chaos and turmoil on all fronts. The woman we loved is now an enemy, our children are at stake, and our financial empire is getting threatened. People all around us are taking sides; attorneys are smacking their lips and rubbing their hands together. We are angry.

It takes a while, but suddenly we realize that we are weakened, greatly. We concern ourselves with what others will think, how we will go on as a divorced man, and will we get to see our children grow up. We become torn between protecting our financial empire and continuing to see our children. Bad things creep into our minds. Nobody seems to understand that we are the meal ticket. Do not kill us or everything will die. They do not seem to care. We feel pain. We are starting to humble ourselves. A little. But mostly we are feeling sorry for ourselves.

We begin to realize that very little in our culture can help us cope with divorce. We do not want to show our weakness because we are bred to believe we must be strong. But we are not. You know it, and I know it. Once we start to lose the women in our lives, we weaken and feel alone. It is not worth losing our women. We humble more. We feel even more sorry for ourselves.

We decide we will work even harder at compromise, to see her point of view, and those damned attorneys. We will settle this divorce with dignity and class. We propose well-crafted plans, brilliant compromise, and solutions worthy of the Gods. And then we present it to the other side, all proud of ourselves. Bad news…they want more than when we started.

It is right here, right at this moment that you will be defined. Are you in it to the end; are you willing to make love more important than anything else? Even during the one to three tough years you will now have to endure? It will be worth it.

You will make more money choosing love. You may even get to have your ex as a friend. Your children will benefit, your future wives and girlfriends will benefit, and most of all you will benefit. Trust me. Do the work. Do not throw out the love.

Nothing will make these next few years any easier. No matter what you think you might gain financially or otherwise, it will all be meaningless before the ink dries. But love will carry on forever.

Divorce is more common than not these days, by some estimates more than half the people that get married end up in divorce. I did. There is a lot to be learned during a divorce and maintaining the ability to love again takes work. There are important questions you must ask yourself.

Should I get divorced?
How do I deal with the pain?
How do I get what I want financially?
How do I make sure my kids are ok?
How will we split custody of the children?
Will I ever get married again?
How will my children deal with new parents?

Plus you have to work through what I call the three stages of divorce – the decision to get divorced, the divorce itself, and life after the divorce. Whether you are thinking about getting divorced or have been divorced for many years, your life continues to be about divorce. But divorce is too important to be decided by “everyone else” or the courts. You must prepare yourself for dealing with your emotions responsibly (without any denial or repression), and then use techniques for clear thinking to get what you want.

Divorce is a negotiation. There are no black and white answers. Becoming clear on how you think and feel about the essential areas of your life is your key to making the right choices and successfully negotiating your divorce. My divorce happened when I was thirty-five years old. My two sons were at the ages of four and five, and my wife was in love with another man. The heartbreak I felt over my wife falling in love with someone else was painful, but the thought of living without my two sons was so painful I could hardly breathe. Also, after more than ten years as a real estate developer, I had built a successful and profitable business and was terrified of losing it all.

What do you do? How do you handle the questions and emotions that arise? I will tell you now the most important thing is to reach for a loving and compassionate response. Yes, I know it is hard, but it is worth it because twenty years from now, forty even, you will be at peace about how you responded. You will feel good about how you handled the entire horrible, shitty, process. Your kids will respect you and maybe even by some miracle your ex-spouse will come around to appreciating you as a man. That feels nice. But even if she doesn’t, you will know that you chose love over all the other emotions and things you could have chosen, and after all, isn’t that what men are meant to do? I am proud of you. Carry on!