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.
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
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.
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