Divorce can be one of the most traumatic experiences in life. Emotions such as guilt, resentment, and fury can get the better of us. We might find ourselves losing touch with our rational side and acting out of character. This is why the words “smooth” and “divorce” don’t usually inhabit the same sentence. “Smooth divorce” sounds something of an oxymoron, in fact!
Nowadays approximately 50% of marriages in the United States end up in divorce. However, these days there are many resources out there to help you end a marriage with minimal acrimony. It is possible to keep things in perspective and remain calm during this difficult process. Here’s how.
Take the time to learn about all legal aspects of your divorce. This will boost your confidence no end, especially when dealing with lawyers. This in turn will help you feel calm and focused when settling on divorce terms.
- Do an online search about divorce in your state. Every state has different laws and processes you should be aware of.
- Go to the website for your county Superior Court and read everything listed under Family Law.
- Browse through the divorce section at your local bookstore or Amazon.
- Talk to friends who have been through a divorce. Ask them what they would have done differently. It’s best to choose a friend who has some distance from their divorce so that their response isn’t overly emotional.
Define Your “Divorce Goals”
After you have done your research, write down your “divorce goals”. By this, we mean – what do you essentially want out of this divorce? Is it joint custody of the children? Is it permanent spousal support, or all tax exemptions? Try to prioritize them if you can. All of this you will eventually be doing with your lawyer, of course. However, the sooner you can be thinking about exactly what it is you require out of this, the sooner you can feel that you are regaining a measure of control and a sense of composure.
Try to stay realistic and to compromise as much as possible. This can prevent a nasty encounter with your ex-spouse in court and will probably save you money and time in the long run. Divorce expert and lawyer Allison Patton makes an important point: “The biggest mistake you can make is turning everything over to an attorney without first figuring out what you really want.” Keep in mind that this is your divorce, not your lawyer’s.
Communicate Conscientiously With Your Ex
Hard as it may seem, be conscientious about regular, open communication with your ex-spouse. The more frankly the two of you can discuss the divorce, the less likely it will be that you will end up in court. Going to court for divorce is a notoriously expensive, lengthy, and stressful process. And communicating with your ex does not necessarily mean you sit alone with them in a room and try to sort the aftermath of your marriage by yourselves.
Many ex-couples these days are choosing to have a “collaborative divorce.” This is based on the notion that you were both partners throughout your marriage, and can end it in similar fashion, although you are bound to need some outside help.
Divorce mediation companies such as WeVorce can connect both you and your ex with a team of professionals, including attorneys, therapists and consultants, to help you end your marriage more amicably. Involving a specialized relationship counselor or therapist at this stage could be a good idea in any case, provided you think of your therapist as someone who will help you both move forward, rather than as someone who will mend your past.
When You have Kids….
There’s no doubt that if you have children, it does complicate the whole ordeal. But it’s important that you don’t beat yourself up doing what you know to be the right thing. Recent studies show that kids usually fully adjust to a divorce within two years. On the other hand, kids who grow up in a tense family environment often experience long-lasting emotional problems.
There’s a fine line between being honest with your kids and keeping them out of the divorce conflict. It is extremely important to keep them informed about the logistics. For example, if there will be any moves and schedule changes in their daily routine let them know about it weeks in advance and keep reminding them of it.
However, when speaking of the divorce try your best to limit talk about their other parent. Try not apologize for them, make excuses for them, or criticize them. Allow your child to come to their own conclusions. If possible, encourage their relationship. This will minimize any feelings of abandonment that might arise during the divorce.
Give your kids the time and space to express their emotions and reactions. Remember, you don’t have to be a problem solver. Just offering a listening ear goes a long way.
Take Care Of Yourself
Last but not least, it’s crucial to take care of yourself during this challenging time. Recognize your emotions but try not to get caught up in the tedious details of the past. When you catch yourself thinking he/she said this or he/she did that take a step back. It’s not of much use to play your “divorce story” on repeat. What’s done is done.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore your negative emotions or be hard on yourself when you feel sad or angry. Instead, try to nourish yourself by doing the things you like the most. You’ll probably find that you have more time to yourself now. Take the opportunity to explore new or old hobbies. Reconnect with friends and family. It can be helpful to find a divorce support group and meet people who are going through the same thing as you. Remember to prioritize your health. Simple and healthy habits like eating well and exercising do wonders to minimize stress.
When their divorce is over many people feel they have the opportunity to start anew. View your divorce a means to a brighter future!
PARC © 2017. PARC (Park Avenue Relationship Consultants) is a group of highly skilled and experienced NYC relationship therapists working with individuals, couples, and families. We have private office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Riverdale, and Long Island. Each PARC therapist has extensive clinical training and experience, and is fully licensed and certified by New York State. Privacy and confidentiality are guaranteed. Out-of-network only. For more information, please call PARC client services at (917) 340-7592 or visit parkavenuerelationshiptherapy.com.