How the Rules of Holes Apply to a Divorce

June 4, 2024

A long time ago, I was bored and flipping through the channels when I happened upon the movie adaption of Louis Sachar’s book, Holes. I had never read the book, only the excerpt when I worked in a bookstore in college. Regardless, the movie inspired me to create my rules of holes and apply them to divorce.


Both the book and movie center on Stanley Yelnats, a child sentenced to hard labor for stealing a pair of shoes. The hard labor was digging holes in the desert to look for a buried treasure. The movie and book follow Stanley as he digs, and eventually finds the treasure by not digging. Divorce is, metaphorically, a hole. It’s a place where we find ourselves trapped, struggling, and wondering if we’ll ever climb out.


The Rules of Holes


1. Quit digging. As the saying goes, “When you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” This means acknowledging the problem and taking responsibility for your situation. When a marriage fails, blame, guilt, and accusations fly. It’s tempting to keep digging, to keep rehashing the reasons, or try to hurt the other person more. But this only makes the hole deeper. The first step is to accept things as they are and stop making them worse.


2. Assess the situation. Take a deep breath and calmly evaluate your surroundings. What caused you to fall in the hole? Do you have any resources available? What are the potential dangers? Just like Stanley Yelnats in the barren desert, we need to look around the hole. Was this divorce truly unforeseen? Were there signs we ignored? More importantly, what assets do we now have – emotional supports, legal resources, inner strength? An honest assessment helps us not feel completely buried.


3. Seek help. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Remember, “No man is an island.” Stanley had Zero. We likely have more people than Stanley: friends, family, therapists, and lawyers can be the ‘shovels’ to start the climb out. Pride often prevents asking for help, but divorce is where humility is key.


4. Develop a plan. Don’t panic. Create a clear and actionable plan to get out of the hole. Break down the problem into smaller, manageable steps. Divorce has steps: division of assets, co-parenting plans if children are involved, even the logistics of where you’ll live. Breaking it into tasks makes it less overwhelming.


5. Take action. Don’t just stand there. Start implementing your plan, one step at a time. Remember, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Divorce involves paperwork and emotional setbacks, but each completed task is a step closer to the surface


6. Stay positive. Maintain a positive attitude and believe in your ability to overcome the challenge. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” So focus on the can.


7. Learn from the experience. Reflect on what happened and identify the lessons learned. Use this knowledge to avoid similar situations in the future. As the proverb goes, “Experience is the best teacher.” As Holes reveals, the past echoes into the future. Analyzing where the marriage went wrong helps us not repeat the same mistakes in later relationships


8. Adapt and be flexible. Be prepared to adjust your plan as needed. Things don’t always go according to plan, so be willing to adapt and be flexible. You did not get married with the plan to get divorced; being flexible and adaptive will help you get through the now in much better shape and if you dig in and get stuck on the past.


9. Celebrate your progress. Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Every step forward is a victory.


10. Keep moving forward. Don’t give up. Persistence and perseverance are key to overcoming any obstacle. Remember, “It’s not about how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up.” Resilience isn’t pretty; it’s often tear-streaked and stubborn. Yet it’s the only way out of the hole.


I can help you plan your way out of the hole in a manner that’s a lot less expensive than a contested or litigated divorce. I have helped hundreds of clients through an uncontested divorce in the last 20 years. If you want to discuss whether I can help you, reach out to my office or call me.


Disclaimer: The information contained herein is general in nature and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. Please seek counsel from a qualified professional.