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How To Maintain A Friendly Divorce

The better two partners involved in a divorce can get along, the faster and easier the divorce will be. The quicker your divorce ends, the quicker you can move forward with your life and the quicker the children can be settled into a new lifestyle.

Your children are already in turmoil with the changing dynamics of their home. They really need a stable adult to assure them that their life will be OK.

How can you maintain a friendly divorce?

Don't listen to well meaning friends.
Often, well meaning friends will try to provide support by advising you to "fight for this" or "demand that". They may encourage you to "come out on top". Before following their advice, stop and think. Is it worth a fight and years of hard feelings to have that beautiful ceramic cat Aunt Martha gave you? Wouldn't it be worth more to reach agreeable terms and be able to face each other with smiles until the kids turned 18? That can be a long, long time for many divorcing couples.

Always be civil.
Even if your spouse tries goading you into a fight, remain calm. Often people involved in a divorce are afraid - and fear makes us act aggressively (see lesson two of our parenting class). By showing respect for your spouse, you can diffuse the aggression and reach a more satisfying outcome. Keep in mind that it will probably take a few episodes of potential fighting, but soon your spouse will realize that you are not going to fight. This will usually take most of the aggression out of him/her.

Remain consistent.
Divorce shatters our routines. Try hard to keep the family's routines as close to the same as possible. This makes life easier for the children - and for the spouse who is no longer in the house. The children will feel safer when their daily routine stays the same - and the spouse who is no longer in the house feels safer also. He/she may not appreciate the routines, but there will be a sense of security knowing that life does go on.

Don't say negative things about your ex in front of the children.
You may not mean to say it, but if you badmouth your ex where the children can hear, two things happen. 1) You not only badmouth your ex, you badmouth your kids. They are a part of your ex - and your kids may think you feel the same way about them. 2) It may get back to your ex. Perhaps you don't care. You should. It is easier to get along with someone when you aren't being petty. Step above all that. Just don't do it.

Reach out.
If your ex doesn't do it first, reach out. Even if they were the one who instigated the divorce, tell them that you want to make sure they are OK.

Listen to what your ex says. You may not want to hear it, but listen. Don't argue. If you are taking one of our parenting classes, use what you've learned in the lesson on receptive listening. Your ex may want to use you as a sounding board or they may be feeling afraid and angry. By listening, you can help them get past that feeling and move on to a more receptive mood.

You can have a friendly divorce. It may not be easy at first, but if you put a little effort into it, everyone will benefit.



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