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Liz Borger

Y’all, Stampede Responsibly

Things to Consider About Divorce Before Attending the Calgary Stampede

“It’s Not Cheatin’, It’s Stampedin!”

It’s been two years since the Calgary Stampede has been in full swing and many Calgarians are excited to get their boots on, join in the festivities, and have a great time. Stampede is generally a family affair and a great place to have fun. But it’s also a place that can bring things to a head when communication is unhealthy and the relationship is on a precipice.

At Fresh Start Mediation, in the weeks following Stampede, our calls go up 50%.

They say, “it’s not Cheatin, it’s Stampedin!”. How do people end up in these situations?  Copious amounts of alcohol and Stampede outfits (or lack there of) contribute to improper behaviour. Stampede is a celebration and our inhibitions are lowered. In 2007, a downtown Calgary hotel made front page news when patrons to its Corporate Stampede tent were able to check their wedding ring at the door for free and airbrush a fake golden glow on their ring finger. Infidelity is high and it’s a misnomer that infidelity happens more on the male side, it’s basically half and half.

During an initial call, we hear everything, whether we want to or not, and it’s pretty juicy. Stampede shenanigans add to the details. The result is a lot of hurt feelings and broken trust in an already vulnerable relationship.

But, what does divorce really look like? What happens to us when our relationship ends in divorce?

What People Don’t Tell You About the Emotions & Business of Divorce

What People Don’t Tell You About the Emotions & Business of Divorce

  1. Divorce is a grieving process – We all see how reality television and tabloids sensationalize and give the impression that divorce is a time of high drama and intense emotions. In reality, it is a time of grieving everything surrounding the relationship. Some have described the process similar to grieving a death. It’s very important to seek a supportive network of people and professional help if needed.
    “There are 7 Stage of Grief in divorce,” says Divorce Coach Cindy Stibbard from Fresh Start Mediation. “The stages include shock, depression/denial, anger, bargaining, taking accountability, and acceptance. The biggest part of the grief process is being stuck blaming and shaming yourself (or someone else) in any one of these stages. You need to move through the stages and take accountability. This leads to your fresh start.”
  2. Divorce is a business transaction – It surprises most people just how much paperwork (and money) is involved in the process. Clients who are able to keep focused on the division of assets as a business transaction, and can keep emotions out of the settlement process, the better decisions they can make for their family.
  3. A “Fresh Start” is harder than it sounds – It takes time and paperwork to separate your joint assets from your spouse. Some items may include registration, tax documents, vehicles, house, insurance, medical benefits, name changes, bank accounts, loans, and the list continues. You will need to communicate with you spouse on these items and it will take time.
  4. Unexpectedly losing friendships – You expect to lose the relationship with your spouse during the split, but you do not expect to lose relationships of lifelong friends. Many who go through divorce describe how mutual friends are often lost in the process. It might not be a matter of a friend choosing one member of a couple over another so much as the change in dynamics. If you usually went on couple dates, for example, the split is thrown off the balance.
  5. You will miss your kids – While each member of the former couple will have more time to themselves, they will definitely miss their kids in a big way. When you’ve been used to always having your children around, their absence will be felt powerfully after your divorce. For the first few months, you are going to feel extremely lonely for your children and your family life. You may even question your decision.
  6. Co-parenting can be exhausting – Shifting to a co-parenting approach can be a very challenging experience, both emotionally and physically. “When parenting young children, you are providing hands-on care to help them grow. As children enter their teens, parents transition out of the hands-on caretaking role into a role that supports them only when they need you. You are their driver, bank, cook, support system, etc. Parents may not have the same perspective around supporting their teen in this new role. Building strong anchors when children are young creates a stronger bond when they enter their teens. This is challenging in co-parenting situations.” (Lisa Huberdeau RSW, CMed, Mediator and Social Worker Fresh Start Mediation).
  7. It’s dangerous to jump right back into dating – The old adage that when you fall off a horse, the best thing to do is jump right back on does not hold true when it comes to relationships. Moving too quickly into a new relationship can be a means of avoiding dealing with the issues that led to the marriage’s dissolution in the first place. Leading you with the same problems in your next relationship.
    Jealous spouses are also a possibility if you have a new partner during the divorce process. One may find they are having their parenting arrangements challenged, their settlement adjusted due to this new relationship, or end up in court simply because feelings are hurt, emotions are high and your ex-spouse wants to make things more difficult for you.
  8. Your physical health takes a hit – In 2010, a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that both middle-aged men and women are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease after going through a divorce, compared with married people of the same age and it’s higher for women. (Fran Walfish, PsyD, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent)
  9. Your mental health declines – Divorce can impact your mental health, not because you feel sad that things didn’t work out with your ex, but because it tends to increase anxiety levels. “You don’t have a companion anymore, and the future you once pictured no longer exists. There’s a lot of uncertainty. Depending on the circumstances, you may suddenly have to move, get a new job, and survive on less money than before. (Walfish)

Negotiated Agreement

When we think of divorce, we generally think about the business of divorce. This involves getting the Negotiated Agreement (or Separation Agreement) constructed and agreed on. In order to start constructing the Negotiated Agreement, financial disclosure needs to be collected by each party.

At Fresh Start, our focus is to understand what you need for the agreement you both want. From coaching to mediation our process asks the same questions to ensure you have a stable, long-lasting agreement through a confidential process that reduces time, money and stress. We walk you through our process and help you both discover and find solutions for your emotional, financial and family complexities

How to Avoid Stampede Break-up

There is a lot of emotional and financial work involved in divorce. However, there is a bit of good news for those of you worried about staying with your spouse through the end of July. Stampede is really only a risky time for relationships that are already vulnerable.

When we are in a relationship that is vulnerable, and we are in an environment that is different than our day to day, after those events there is an increased possibility in people ending their marriages. Vulnerable relationships are those that have either a lack of trust or a lack of communication.

If you’re in a vulnerable relationship, what you need to do is communicate!

One of the challenges most of us have is we’ve never learned how to communicate. Hence, when we get stressed, we lean on unskilled behaviour. This may look aggressive or detached, depending on the person, because we haven’t learned how to have difficult conversations.

Having that conversation with your partner about boundaries, trust, and inclusion will work towards ensuring that you both have a good time at this year’s Calgary Stampede. Better yet, you’ll still be together at the end of it!


Daniel, A. (2020, March 6) 23 Effects of Divorce that People Don’t Talk About According to Experts. Best Life.
Gaspard, T. MSW, LICSW (2020, February 18) The Remarriage Manual.
Huberdeau, Lisa RSW, CMed, Mediator and Social Worker Fresh Start Mediation
Jones, C., (2022, May 26) The Big Fling.
Stibbard, Cindy BA, BEd, CDC®, CDS® CHCC™, ABA, Divorce Coach at Fresh Start Mediation and Divorce ReDefined.
Trotter, Susan PHD, Relationship Coach
Walfish, F. PSYD,(2010, December 7) The Self-Aware Parent.

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