The Four-Way Stop: Post-Divorce Advice

By Richard “RJ” Jaramillo

Founder of SingleDad.com

This “Get Comfortable with Uncomfortable” article series is one of my favorite topics. Do you know someone who is newly divorced and having trouble making decisions?  The newly divorced man’s first 12 months is filled with making new decisions in life. For most men, making a decision is difficult.

You have to remember that most guys are on this stressful, emotional roller coaster that suddenly comes to a crashing conclusion. The new, post-divorce life for men can be pretty challenging because most men just don’t know where to start.

Most of my coaching on SingleDad.com has a lot to do with the process of helping my members find their balance and getting a game plan to get their life back in order. This article is about helping divorced men make decisions during a time when they feel stuck in the middle of nowhere.

 

The Four-Way Stop

When I am giving a talk with one of my members, I like to use a variety of analogies and “word pictures” to help get my message across during our coaching sessions. Call it a bit of my parenting skills or just the gift of telling a good story, I like to make sure that I am getting my message across in a positive and descriptive way.

One of my favorite stories that I like to use describing the post-divorce life is like sitting in a truck at a four way stop on some dusty road in the middle of nowhere with no road signs or directions telling you where you are and where you want to go. Your gas tank is probably close to empty and you just want someone to help you out with some directions that will get you to the nearest gas station.

The problem is that the four-way stop is so far from anywhere that if you risk making the wrong decision on your direction, you might not have enough fuel to get back and find any help at all. And based on that feeling, it just feels better to sit at the four-way stop and not make a decision on where to go. The truck is your life right now and you need to make a decision on a new direction of life.

This feeling is what I like to call the “the decision of indecision” and for most newly divorced men, we just seem to freeze about making a decision at this point in our life. We are just too afraid to make a decision for a variety of reasons.

These feelings of indecision are normal and it is no surprise to many men at this stage of post-divorce life that they seem to be frozen in time. Sometimes, I even hear the conversation of “ I wish I could go back…” and that’s where I step in and help.

It’s not my place to tell you that you can’t go back. However, for the most part, that road going backwards is not going to be easy to navigate and it may not be the way you remember, either. There is a reason why you are here now at the four-way stop and your chances of starting fresh in a new direction in life is going to benefit you.

If you are having trouble making a decision right now, let me give you a few things to think about that will help you unlock your feelings and get you to that place of decision:

  • Let me tell you now that you can make a decision on your new life direction, and even if you make it now, you can still have the freedom to change your direction at any time during the course of your journey and it will always feel like the right decision if you act responsibly.
  • Now is a good time for you to map out your life in 6- to 12-month increments. A simple life plan begins with what your new life looks like to you. Write it down and map out the place you want to live. Tell me what it looks like and what your new life looks like in your single parent lifestyle. Take a calendar and schedule out what an ideal week looks like to you with your work commitments, family time, and your new personal goals. Give yourself the time to be as general or detailed as you want it to be.
  • Look at this calendar and change it as you make changes to your life and realize the progress you are making at work, home, and family life.

The four-way stop happens to all of us in life. The important message behind the lesson is to understand that most of us put such high importance on being right and making the perfect decision on everything in life.

There really is no such thing as a perfect decision, only choices and consequences. As long as we move forward in life by learning from our choices, we are making progress in life.

One of the most imperfect times in our life is during a divorce. It is my job to remind all of us that there is no such thing as a perfect decision, just the ability to make a decision.

I am a far from perfect father and I make poor choices that I learn from all the time. The bottom line is that I learned to make decisions and get past that proverbial four-way stop sign in my mind, and I know that you can do it, too.

From one Single Dad to another, “Make Life Happen… Again!”

 

SingleDad CoachingRichard “RJ” Jaramillo, 45, is the founder of SingleDad.com, a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single father with children. RJ is a self-employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents “Make Life Happen…Again!”

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