7 Fundamental Divorce Lessons we can learn from the BP Oil Spill

Here are seven fabulous lessons we can all learn from the BP oil spill…

1. No matter how well things are going, it’s good to have a back-up plan

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if BP knew exactly what to do in case there was a leak? Wasn’t a leak something that was a known possibility? Let’s not be so naive, if it is true that 40-50% of all couples get divorced, isn’t it best to create a back-up plan when you are still in love with each other? Is it smart to create a pre-nup or a marriage contract when you like each other? You bet! Better yet, having a back-up plan not only in case of divorce, but in case of death or disability is also a smart move. Don’t lose yourself too much; always having a strong sense of self, as well as faith, helps to dissipate the devastation that comes with future loses.

If you need help with a plan, hire a coach, counselor or mediator to facilitate the process with you.

2. If you think you should take action but you wait too long, you lose out

Many were furious at President Obama for waiting 2 months before forcing BP to come up with a financial plan for dealing with the largest environmental disaster of our era. Suddenly, everyone blamed the government rather than the corporation.

When there is a major problem in a relationship, everyone has a different way of dealing with it. While some may become angry and yell and scream, others become quiet, ignoring the problem, hoping it goes away. I think it’s fair to say that if an issue is ignored, it grows, and becomes bigger and bigger. As difficult and complicated as things may seem, handling things as they come up is always a better course of action.

Same with divorce. If you are positive the relationship is over, then step up and take action. People who drag out divorces are never happy with the results.

3. Not taking Responsibility for your part leads to frustration and unforgiveness

After 2 months of apparent inaction on the part of BP, they agreed to provide a reparation fund. There were few apologies and not enough money coming in to help those affected by their negligence. We won’t know for decades all the ramifications of the spill. Hum…sort of like a divorce. The destruction following a divorce, using the kids against each other, putting down the other person, retaliatory actions…well, those can have long-last effects for sure.

I remember when we had the Exxon Valdez spill over 25 years ago, I walked around with a t-shirt that said “We don’t care, we don’t have to care, at Exxon, we’re part of the problem.” Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

As an attorney, I can’t tell you how many lawsuits could be avoided with two simple words, “I’m sorry.”  Admitting to your faults, apologizing, and taking action to avoid re-harming is mandatory in continuing relationships. Our actions always affect others, especially those we love or loved. By realizing your piece and taking responsibility, you can avoid creating larger, seemingly unsolvable problems.

4. Biggering is not always better

Do you remember the Dr. Suess book, I am the Lorax? There was a wonderful lesson in that about using up all your resources and then having nothing left over… “I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please….” The last few pages of the book show all the trees have disappeared, the air is destroyed, the animals had to flee to find food and new homes, the corporation that cut all the trees is now closed, and all the people lost their jobs.

How many families have gotten in trouble the past few years by using and spending all their resources, on biggering and biggering their lifestyles, simply to find themselves broke, frustrated and unhappy? These behaviors have destroyed families. BP is not alone in this; they are just representative of over-filling and stuffing their stockholder’s stomachs, while not building a solid foundation of safety and trust.

5. It’s all about integrity

Remember when the proverbial handshake was enough? Unfortunately, it’s not enough anymore. When you can’t follow through, then don’t promise or say you will, just be honest in admitting you can not. In other words, when you mean NO, don’t say YES.

I don’t know anyone who actually believes what politicians say. We EXPECT to be lied to. Do we EXPECT that in our marriages too? Here’s the truth, we can’t control what the government, or big corporations do. Sure, we have the ability to vote and invest in certain corporations rather than others, but where we can make a difference, where it really counts, is in our home life; in ourselves. Are you honest? Do you have integrity? Is your handshake enough? Can you wake up everyday and look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who is looking back? If you could not be trusted in marriage, how can you be trusted going through a divorce?

6. Use a Mediator…ask for help when you come to an impasse

President Obama is a great mediator, and had the ability to help resolve, to some extent anyway, the BP crisis. BP needed to take some action, the government and localities needed to take some action. Frankly, everyone needs help in relationships, especially when going through a divorce.

John F. Kennedy said “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” As I mentioned earlier, small hurts become large, difficult to forgive hurts, when they are not dealt with. If you need help, swallow your pride and ask. It only hurts for a second, and the positive ramifications can last for generations.

7. What comes out of a crisis is opportunity

There is no crisis without opportunity. President Obama is used this environmental disaster to ask for a new energy bill that will alleviate America’s addiction to oil. That is called using a crisis to create opportunity. The Chinese symbol for crisis combines the symbols for danger and opportunity. I guess you can always use a crisis as a cross-road, and as an opportunity to make a choice, in other words, to make lemonade from lemons.

Similarly, divorce can lead to personal growth and get you on the path towards self discovery and life purpose. Are there changes that you need to make? What is your part in the issue/difficulty? These are the times when many find new spiritual paths, friends, and re-connect with and learn the importance of family and most importantly, self-love and forgiveness.

In conclusion, we are living in scary times, to be sure. The changes all of us are being asked to make are not unlike those forced upon governments or large corporations. While much of the decision making is about money issues, many are also about relationship issues, especially about the relationship we have with ourselves. Are our actions consistent and in alignment with our values? Do we also have public images we like to portray? When we look at the world through the lenses of love, wisdom and forgiveness, there is plenty of room for opposing views, and for appreciating our divorce as a vehicle for our own personal growth. 

Lori Rubenstein has transformed her life and will help you transform yours. A former divorce attorney, she is now a life-after-divorce coach, mediator, author, retreat leader and teacher.  Her mission is to help others heal from the hurts caused by relationships. She is the author of Transcending Divorce: A Guide to Personal Growth and Transformation. She can be reached at 928-634-0252 or through her website www.TranscendingDivorce.com.

1 comment

  1. great article, some nice lessons to learn, going through a divorce is really tough for someone, it takes time to move on but what matters is being surrounded by the people who loves you and are there for you when you are going to a situation like this.