Getting unmarried is difficult and the entire process – from deciding to end your marriage through getting the final decree – is filled with difficult conversations and emotional choices. By moving through the process intentionally, thoughtfully and with a goal of ending the relationship with integrity can help protect you and your family from the emotional turmoil of an unconscious divorce. With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you have a healthier divorce.
- Be patient. Be patient with yourself, with your partner, with your family. Allow all concerned time to process their emotions – to come to terms with the loss, the uncertainty, the fear. It’s not unusual for people to be at different emotional stages during the divorce; while you may have already processed your emotions, your partner may still be working through their feelings.
- Get help. It is the uncommon divorce that lends itself to a DIY approach and it is a rare divorce indeed where the parties are able to go through it alone emotionally, so get some help. While a collaborative team can help you and your partner find solutions to the immediate questions surrounding your divorce, you will be better able to make intentional and thoughtful decisions if you have some emotional support as well. So, give some consideration to getting some help with processing all those emotions and to put you in touch with your highest functioning self. Get a therapist. Find a support group.
- Respect Boundaries. Folk wisdom would have you avoid discussions that may trigger arguments if you want a tranquil divorce – a fine sentiment, but somewhat difficult to implement; after all, the process of getting unmarried is filled with difficult discussions and difficult discussions are rarely free from emotion and tension. A better approach is to respect each other’s boundaries – concentrate on the priorities you have for the divorce and the future. Agree that the two of you will honor your history together (the good, the bad, the ugly) but that now is the time to look to creating a healthier future for your family.
- Be open to mixed emotions. It’s ok to be ambivalent – ending a relationship is not easy and it’s to be expected that you will have second thoughts and regrets. It’s ok to be empathetic – there is nothing wrong with trying to relate to how your partner is feeling; it may help you find better solutions. It’s ok to be appreciative for all the good parts of your marriage – divorce should never rewrite your entire history together.
- Have a vision. It is far easier to move forward intentionally if you have some idea as to where you want to end up. So spend some time thinking about your vision for your family’s new future – is it important to maintain a quality relationship with your children? is financial security for all members of your family of concern? will your children want to maintain relationships with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles? – and what it will take to make your vision work for both you and your partner.