Divorce is usually overwhelming, uncertain, and confusing. If not handled well the divorce process can be a recipe for disaster. How you handle your divorce will impact not only you, your spouse and children, but also your community of friends and family. By taking positive steps you can navigate the divorce in a way that supports and empowers you. Here are some recommendations to lead you to the finish line and to a healthier divorce.
Slow down and breathe
Remember that you will be establishing a new life and the foundation you lay now will affect the rest of your life. Breathing is very important.
Exercise a businesslike approach
Separate your emotions from the divorce process. Easier said than done, but it is absolutely necessary in order to have a healthy divorce. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with expressing your emotions; however, divorcing people often times “over” express which usually ends up working against them. Therapists are there to help you hold your emotions safely, making it possible for you to be pragmatic and focused, using good judgment as you navigate the divorce process.
Research process options
Various options to manage your divorce are offered for better or worse, including litigation, collaborative law, cooperative law, mediation, and some in between. Just knowing what process is best is daunting. Educating yourself is essential in order for you to decide which process will best support your intention for your divorce. Consider getting guidance from a disinterested professional such as a divorce coach, therapist, or divorce advisor about the benefits and pitfalls of the various avenues available.
Be educated about your finances
This may take some effort. Even if you have not been very involved in the financial aspects of your marriage partnership it is essential that you understand your finances when you are in the divorce process. No one will care about your finances as much as you; so it is time to learn. The first step is to take an inventory of what you have; if needed, get some help from a financial expert who can serve as your financial coach. Becoming educated is very empowering as well as enlightening and will ultimately give you the confidence to make better decisions.
Realize you are in charge
No matter what process is used, mediation, collaborative law, cooperative law, litigation or the kitchen table, you are the one who decides how to initiate, respond, and react. Others may give you their opinions, but you have the choice of how to respond and your response can lead to acrimony or cooperation.
Define goals and objectives
How do you want your divorce to go? How do you want your life to be in the future? How do you want your relationship with your former spouse to be in the future? How do you want to remember your marriage? Perhaps start with a statement of your intentions or a description of how you want to remember your marriage and your divorce; then list the steps to get there.
Take good care of yourself
A healthy divorce develops from you taking care of yourself. Doing this will help you be grounded through this major, difficult transition. Even if you have children, you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of them; similar to putting the oxygen mask on yourself before your child in an airplane emergency.
Do not blame
Holding on to resentment and anger ultimately takes you down a path that ends up costing you more in dollars and in added stress. Trying to get revenge and acknowledgment that you are right and your spouse is wrong is not only disempowering but actually frustrates your ability to have a positive transition. Think about it. Wanting your spouse to take the blame and to be at fault turns you into a victim and gives them control. Rather than blame them, ask them to be accountable and if they disagree, accept it. You can only control your perspective, not their perspective. Being mired in blame ultimately hurts you.
Work with a divorce coach, divorce advisor, or therapist to learn more empowering communication skills and negotiation capabilities. Improved communication skills enable you to articulate your thoughts better and to understand their thoughts. A negotiation coach can teach you the difference between negotiation based upon emotional positions and negotiation based on interests. The latter will usually provide the best outcome.
This is your divorce. You will be the one person living your life after the divorce. Take control of the process. Controlling the process will be empowering and lead to a more satisfying outcome. You can give yourself the gift of a healthy divorce.