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7 Strategies for a Smoother Divorce
Out with the old, in with the new?
This season is the perfect storm when it comes to divorce: holiday stress, financial strain, lots of time spent with the in-laws, all closely followed by the inevitable desire for New Year renewal. We're all looking for things to give up; not-so-great habits, not-so-great attitudes, and apparently, not-so-great relationships.
If you know that your relationship woes are caused by more than just regular holiday stress, divorce may well be the best option and while I could never claim to make your separation a pain-free process, there are definitely some strategies you can try to help make things just a little less traumatic for everyone involved.
1. Listen to your spouse's concerns.
Nothing will make a person more defensive than the feeling that no one is listening to them or that their concerns are being ignored. Showing that you respect their views is one of the quickest ways to break power struggles and reach a more amicable agreement. Of course, depending on your relationship history, this could prove difficult and this is one area where your collaborative lawyer/mediator can help diffuse tense situations.
2. Keep reactivity at bay.
Again, this isn't always easy but if you can keep your emotions in check, the whole process is likely to run much more smoothly. It's worth remembering that while you can't control the things other people say and do, your own reaction is one thing that you definitely do have control over. There will, of course, be times that you just want to yell and scream — let your mediator know that you're struggling and you can take a break until you feel stronger again.
3. Explore the options.
One of the most daunting aspects about divorce is the fear of the unknown. You'll be aware of some of your options from talking to friends or family who've experienced divorce, but it's a good idea to talk to a professional who can advise you on your particular situation.
Simply knowing that you do have a variety of options available to you can be reassuring and help you feel more in control of the situation.
4. Focus on the future.
Undoubtedly there have been events in the history of your relationship that have caused anger, bitterness, or resentment. Dwelling on this is natural, but not helpful. Instead try to focus on the future. What do all parties need to move on from this point in a constructive way that will help conserve what remains of the relationship? How can you reach an agreement that won't lead to further disagreements in the future? Ideally you want to be able to look back at your divorce and honestly say that you reached your agreement with integrity and with actions consistent with how you would like to have behaved.
5. Give everyone (yourself included) some slack.
You'll likely be going through a range of emotions from anger, anxiety, fear, shame, even elation. Remember that these feelings are completely normal and won't last forever — many people find therapy is an invaluable way to make it through this stage. This is a tough time but it doesn't have to define you or your future.
6. Establish new boundaries.
Divorce doesn't signal the end of your relationship, rather it's the beginning of a new phase. This is especially true if you have children together. It's important to find a way to preserve your relationship so that you're still able to make parenting decisions together and be present for your children in a way that works for everyone. This is the point where you need to decide upon appropriate lines of communication and contact as you move forward.
7. Accept realistic solutions.
When trying to reach an agreement, the problem often lies in what people believe is fair. This is such a subjective term, though, and it may well be impossible to establish terms with which both parties are 100% happy. Rather than focusing on what you consider to be "fair", it could be more constructive to think about what is practical, realistic, or acceptable.
Try to define terms that allow everyone to move on with integrity, dignity and the tools for future success.
The break-up of a marriage is always going to bring a degree of pain but following these tips consistently will help all parties move forward with a greater degree of peace, understanding, and renewed hope for the future.
Whether you think your relationship needs support or you've decided divorce is the best option and you want to navigate the process in the most peaceful and productive way possible, mediation can help. Contact me now to schedule a call.