The power is in your hands.
Is it possible to have a “good” divorce?
That might sound absurd to someone currently facing a split from their spouse (or to someone who’s in the middle of a contentious separation), but some divorce experiences are unquestionably better than others. Usually, it all comes down to a matter of perspective.
What does that mean? Comedian Louis C.K. once said, “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married and ... they just had a great thing and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times.”
That attitude – that your divorce is a good thing – can be hard to maintain during legal proceedings, but it can make a huge difference in your life and the lives of your family members.
But how can you make your divorce experience a “good one,” especially when children are involved?
Senior VP of YourTango Experts Melanie Gorman asked that question to a panel of professional divorce coaches and captured their responses in our newest Expert video (which you can see at the top of the page).
Our divorce Experts Laura Bonarrigo, Cherie Morris, Sonja Stribling, and Pegotty Cooper offered up several smart, tangible, and actionable ways that you can take control of your attitude about your divorce and transform it into the best experience it can be.
You can watch their full comments in the video, but here are 6 of their most important tips for what you personally can do to make your divorce proceedings “good” for both you and your family.
1. Remember that you’re a role model.
We can be so self-focused about divorce that we sometimes forget that this is our children’s first experience with divorce too. That means they’re looking for someone to show them how to react – they’re seeking out emotional role models. Keep that in mind during agitated moments in front of the kids.
2. Leave the fight in a special place.
Arguing about the details of your divorce in front of your children can cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. We’re not saying you shouldn’t stand up to your soon-to-be ex, but maybe keep your fighting time sequestered to one particular spot. Maybe it’s your lawyer’s office or some other neutral ground, but definitely keep it away from your kids.
3. Keep it in neutral.
Everyone is just trying to get through the divorce, so keeping your emotions in check is the best thing you can do. When possible, disengage emotionally. Sometimes, a neutral divorce is the best one.
4. Respect the idea of co-parenting.
Like it or not, in most cases, your spouse is going to be in your children’s lives forever. That means you have to acknowledge that your roles are changing. You’re no longer just parents – you’re co-parents. So, you’re stuck being partners with this person for the long haul. Try to keep that in mind before you burn any bridges.
5. Don’t make the kids choose.
Our divorce Experts agree – one of the most common anxieties for children during a divorce is that they’re afraid they’ll have to choose which parent they love the most. Confront that fear head-on and let your kids know upfront that no one expects them to pick their favorite parent. Because, even though this might be infuriating if your spouse is a jerk, kids are always going to love their parents and it’s unfair to expect them to do otherwise.
6. Recognize that, yes, you can control your behavior.
Another common complaint during divorce is “I can’t be expected to behave well because my ex doesn’t behave well.” But that’s simply not true. You ALWAYS have the ability to make the choice to be the better person. It might be hard, frustrating, and you really want to throw his passive-aggressive crap right back into his face, but your spouse’s behavior doesn’t control you. It’s in your control and taking the high road will mean so much to your kids down the road.
Divorce hurts. It can ultimately be the best thing that ever happened to you, but, in the moment, it’s a rough, emotionally draining experience.
However, if you approach the split with the right attitude and the commitment to shield your children from the worst of it, divorce doesn’t have to be all bad. The power is in your hands.