8 Essentials For A Friendly Divorce

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8 Essentials For A Friendly Divorce
The divorce process can increase your distress ... or launch better days.

Claire and Eddie actually talked better about divorcing than they ever had done talking about their marriage. They both were relieved at the opportunity to escape from a situation that, for different reasons for each of them, felt unworkable to them both.

Before completing this discussion it can be helpful to look for areas of potential pathways other than divorce that could be responsive to both of your concerns. If at least one of you would prefer to see if the marriage can be saved, consider agreeing to a finite period of time during which you will both attempt to mend the marital schism by seeking professional help with therapy or a marriage education course. 

If the final outcome is still a decision by at least one of you to end the marriage, pick up your dignity and move on with your life.

Since the divorce, Eddie has taken full responsibility for the children. His parents help with childcare when he is at work. He feels liberated by the divorce, greatly enjoys seeing his two children thriving in the calm of their three-person home, and eventually will choose a new life partner.

Claire's relief at no longer being locked into roles she did not want was huge. Her visits with the children have gradually become more frequent, though they relate to her more as a fun big sister than as a parent.

Guideline #2: Discover your own mistakes and how to rectify them.

Mistakes are for learning. Instead of waiting until after the divorce to learn what the rupture of your marriage can teach you, start immediately after one of you has first said the d-word.

Look at all the ways in which you have been a less-than cooperative, considerate and loving partner. Look at what you could have done instead of either holding back from discussing what was troubling you in the marriage or bludgeoning your spouse with angry criticisms.

Notice also to what extent you paid serious attention to your spouse's concerns. How well did you listen when your spouse expressed distress? To what extent did you focus your attention on yourself only? Or allow yourself to focus on others outside of the marriage? Mistakes are for learning.

Focusing on the mistakes you've made and how to prevent repeating them makes you a winner no matter what the outcome of the marriage disengagement process.

Guideline #3: Learn skills for collaborative dialogue and shared decision-making.

Most divorcing couples handle the divorce with the same mistaken strategies that ruined their marriage.

Learn and use the skills that were missing in your marriage relationship if you want the divorce settlement process to stay cooperative.

Guideline #4: In the settlement agreement, aim for somewhere between fairness and generosity.

Aiming to get more than your fair share can be tempting, especially if you feel you have been wronged or if you have a spouse who tends to be overly generous. As my mother used to say, two wrongs don't make a right.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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