7 STEPS TO TAKE FOR A HEALTHY DIVORCE
Laura Rosenberg MA, LCPC
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates
I love that quote from Socrates. It proves that good ideas are timeless. I will be writing articles in the future about different aspects of divorce but I thought it best to start with this one.
When first going through a separation, it seems virtually impossible to imagine being able to cooperate with your spouse. Whether you are the one seeking the divorce or not, everyone has pain, anxiety and anger as they move through the process. For many people, the term “healthy divorce” seems like an oxymoron. Let me assure you that a “healthy divorce” is possible.
Most importantly, all of the research on divorce and its affect of children, points to the fact that the quality of the relationship of the divorcing parents is central to the healthy adjustment of the children!!!! So, while you may be going through a whole host of emotional feelings and stages of grieving, you can still COMMIT to keeping your divorce civilized and using mediation as a nonadversarial approach to divorcing.
So here are 7 things to commit to as you navigate through the murky waters of divorce.
1. Take responsibility for managing your behavior. Be unconditionally constructive even if your spouse is not. If you set the tone, it will keep things from escalating.
2. Don’t make any decisions based on anger, hurt, guilt or fear. Separate your feelings from the decision-making process.
3. Put the kids first! Protect your kids at all times from any temporary feelings you may have about wanting to hurt or punish your spouse.
4. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood. First rule in negotiating effectively is to understand both sides of an issue. If you first try to see your spouse’s point of view, it goes a long way toward diffusing anger and resolving issues.
5. Don’t get stuck in the blame game. As hard as it may be, the sooner you accept responsibility for whatever may have been your contribution to the demise of your marriage, the sooner you will be able to learn and grow from this experience.
6. Be willing to compromise and cooperate. These skills will help make the divorce easier and less costly. If you have children together, than your relationship will continue long after you are divorced. These skills will help you negotiate in the future.
7. Make a commitment to be fair and nonadvesarial in the settlement process. Remember, separate your emotions from this and you will come out ahead. You (and your children!) will come out ahead if you spend your money on mediators and counselors rather than on litigation!!