At Hargrave Family Law we strive to help clients minimize conflict and maximize successful outcomes. Using creative solutions, we prioritize our clients’ well-being while reducing disruption of their lives as much as possible.
For those who wish to avoid warfare, emotional trauma, and tens of thousands of dollars in legal and professional fees, it is possible to remain civil even throughout a heated divorce process.
In our last post we explained the Collaborative Divorce process, and described some of the benefits of that process. However, even for people who do not choose the Collaborative Divorce process, remaining civil has its personal and financial benefits.
Remaining civil during this challenging time has both personal and financial benefits.
Divorce is hard, not only for the married couple and everyone in the family circle, but also for friends and others who serve a supportive role. Relationships between child and parent will change with a divorce, as will sibling relationships, relationships between extended family members, and even those in your social circles. How you handle these changes sets the stage for the next chapter in your life, and the health of these relationships moving forward.
To keep things as calm and civil between you and your soon-to-be ex, keep these things in mind:
Surround yourself with your Support System
You have people who love you and support you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, and let them help you. You cannot and should not go through a difficult time such as this alone, even though it may be tempting to feel like withdrawing and hiding out. Now is a great time to schedule time with friends – go to the movies, grab a coffee, organize a sport outing, do something that nurtures you with people who support you. Let them sustain you during this difficult stage of your life.
As with all people with whom we interact in life, respect is key; we should show respect if we hope to receive it. If there were some speed bumps, or even bad crashes, in your marriage, and hurtful things were done or said, life will be easier for everyone if you can maintain mutual respect. Treat your ex as well as you would treat a visitor or guest; show them at least the most common courtesies. Otherwise, you’re going to make things uncomfortable for everyone around you—not just your ex. You also greatly reduce the chance of arriving at compromises during negotiations that are beneficial to you.
Protect the dignity of your family. If you are tempted to advertise your spouse’s weaknesses on social media, now may be a good time to stay away from Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Reliving past hurts by continuing to “spread the word” about your spouse’s faults also keeps your pain raw, slows the healing process and is not emotionally healthy. If children are involved, you risk doing them harm as well if they overhear. Unburden yourself to a trusted confidant so you have a place to vent, but otherwise keep the sordid details to yourself. You will eventually regret it if you don’t, and will make an already tense process even worse.
Thinking before you speak, while a seemingly simple tip, can actually be quite challenging in a divorce. Emotions are raw, and the focus is often on the failings of the marriage and the perceived reasons for them. Fear of the unknown, dealing with betrayal, or a desire for revenge, can all cause you to often verbally lash out in haste. However, if you keep the words from rushing out of your mouth immediately, and take time to consider the consequences, then when you do speak, you will be and sound more rational, and you will allow yourself to negotiate in a better manner and with more successful results.
Plan, and Plan Again
When meeting with your attorney try to make a list of any known problems of complications that you foresee arising. Hope for the best but also create a contingency plan. The divorce process will end, and you will build a new life; begin to plan for its new possibilities. Start simply with the most pressing needs and desires, and expand from there. Revisit your plans often as you progress through the divorce proceedings and make adjustments as necessary.
Let It Go
Don’t let the divorce be the sole focus of your life; remember that the world is still spinning and you need to begin moving forward. It’s time to start leaving behind all the hurtful things that were said and the painful experiences that have passed. Instead, set new goals for yourself. Think of all the new things you will be able to do after your marriage has ended. Dream new dreams, or revive old ones. Plan some family outings as well so that any children involved in the divorce can refocus their attention to something positive. Focus on building your future!
Keep the kids out of it
As a parent, you’ve probably already realized that kids are like sponges. They hear everything, they can pick up on your emotions; this leads to an often very confusing time for them. As difficult as it may be try not to pass your stress on to the children, regardless of their age. Be a role model and show them how to walk a difficult path with grace. Often, parents will feel like they need to justify their decisions by telling the kids “the truth” about the other parent. Your kids don’t need to hear about a parent’s bad acts; they cannot truly understand adult issues, and may be damaged emotionally by attempts to explain the reasons for the marriage ending. As you and your soon-to-be ex work out a “new normal”, keep things neutral when talking in front of the children. Remember that both parents will always be a part of their history, and that should be respected. Children do, however, need to know that both parents love them, and always will. For their sake, let them see you treat the other parent with respect. [See our blog post here about keeping family stories alive.]
Divorce is not easy, but if you take a minute to step back and stay focused, it’s possible to engage in a constructive and more peaceful process. Keep these tips in mind throughout your divorce process to make it as healthy and painless as possible.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a Family Law expert today, let’s talk!
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