How to get through a divorce
Ending a relationship is never easy, but your divorce doesn't have to be difficult. Here are a few ways you can do your part to diffuse the anger and resentment that often manifests itself during divorce. Your main mission should be to get through the divorce and avoid fanning the flames of conflict, here's how:
1. Keep communication brief, short, and nonjudgmental
If your relationship appears to be high conflict, try to avoid communication with your spouse, unless it is absolutely necessary. For instance, you may need to speak to each other about the children's homework or agree on a date for the plumber to make a repair on the marital home. You should try to avoid what I like to call "hot button" issues such as who will spend more time with the children or whether the house will be sold.
If you know these are issues that will likely end up in a heated discussion, avoid them. The time and the place to have these discussions should be in the presence of your attorneys, with a mediator or other qualified professional that can help you discuss these issues in a professional way, without petty comments, insults or threats. However, this should not mean you should cut your spouse off abruptly or ignore them. You can simply state you have heard what they have to say and are not dismissing their feelings, you simply want to wait until the appropriate time to discuss it when you have more information.
2. Update your attorney
You may have told your attorney certain things when you hired them at the start of the divorce that now, months later, has significantly changed. You and your spouse have now accepted that a divorce is happening, and you aren't so keen on keeping his family heirloom or her favorite art piece. Your lawyer has no idea and has spent the last hour arguing with opposing counsel over something you are no longer interested in. Many times the client's goals and expectations are not aligned with their attorney's as a result of this disconnect. In some cases, even when you think you are both on the same page, your attorney may just be a tough character and prone to conflict.
Whatever the case may be, it is critical you and your attorney are on the same page about how to handle your case and how requests will be communicated. It makes more sense to be direct and straightforward, than snarky, rude and unprofessional. Look for these signs in your attorney, and nip them in the bud. You can still be aggressive without being a bully. The latter approach can cost you more in time, money and grief with little results
3. Keep your support network in check
While trying to get through a divorce, you might find that some friends and family have an opinion about your divorce and make no qualms voicing that opinion. These are people we love and trust that influence us, but may often interfere in the process directly or indirectly. They may bombard you with questions and direct you to either avoid or confront an issue in a manner that may not be ideal. They may also try to take matters into their own hands and create unnecessary friction and animus with your spouse through their own conduct.
These people mean well and have your best interests at heart, however, it is important you speak to them about avoiding these scenarios. They add an unnecessary strain to negotiations and make it difficult for the parties to focus on resolving more important aspects of a divorce.
4. Don't involve your children
Watching your parents separate can be traumatic and life-changing for a child. The last thing a child needs is to see their parents bicker and blame each other during this delicate transition. You may both want to consider using a family counselor or therapist to prepare the children for the changes that are coming, but to do so, you will both have to place your children's interests before your own.
Let your kids know that both parents love them very much, and no matter how angry you get, do not engage in personal attacks in their presence. If that seems impossible to do, let your attorney know. The court may be able to intervene and compel family therapy.
5. Don't engage
You might be reading this and thinking, well I do all these things, but my spouse continues to cross the line and acts inappropriately. The answer is simple. Don't react, don't engage and move on. The less you respond in a negative manner, the more futile your spouse will feel, knowing they can no longer get the same rise out of you. You are in control of your feelings, and if you need help managing them, there are several resources available to you. You cannot change the other person, but you can be the change you want to see in that person by ending the vicious cycle of conflict.