6 Things REAL Grownups Do To Come Out Ahead After Divorce

Photo: Unsplash
6 Steps To Having An Amicable Divorce — Like A Real, Live Grown Up

Yes, you've got this — but being an adult means knowing when you need some help.

No one marries with the vision of divorcing in the future, yet the divorce rate in the U.S. is 40% to 50% for the first marriages and 60% for second marriages.

This means that despite their best intentions to keep their marriages going forward, many people do choose to divorce.

If you have children and are deciding to get a divorce, it can feel extremely difficult to avoid behaving childishly at times. Marriage may be an adult institution, but many married people don’t act all that grown up, which can mean an even more childish, undignified divorce instead of a more desirable amicable divorce.

Divorce effects all aspect of your life including your daily mood, health, work, finances, and relationships with all of your family members and friends — and most of all, your relationship with your children. 

It is crucial that you enter your divorce process understanding how to regulate your own emotions while thinking of the long term costs and benefits of each particular act and decision. It is essential to communicate clearly and negotiate with win-win outcomes in mind.

Here are 6 steps to handling your divorce process like the mature adult you are:

1. Become emotionally complete with your spouse

Recognize that at one point in your life you chose this person as a partner for your life. Respect and own your choice, and tell yourself you chose this person with all the information you had at the time. Your needs and your knowledge of both yourself and your partner may have changed.

Move past any guilt or shame by accepting you have learned and evolved, and that it is time to let go of your past expectations.

2. Take a responsibility.

Be accountable for everything you have done in this marriage, recognize everything your spouse has done for this marriage, and be grateful for all the good you both have created — including your children. 

Also take responsibility for everything you did NOT do for this marriage. Those things you chose to hold back, chose not to give, or chose to do in a way you knew would upset or hurt your spouse. 

Forgive yourself and your spouse for not fulfilling each of your expectations, and let the sorrow go.  

3. Learn to negotiate and communicate as co-parents with a win-win mindset.

If you have children with this person, you will be relatives for the rest of your life.

Commit to a healthy partnership as co-parents by making a pledge — to yourself, to each other and to your children — to make the co-parenting work regardless of what may have happened in your previous partnership as a married couple.

4. Honor your decision to be done with the marriage.

If you find yourself getting upset with your ex because he or she is not behaving the way you want them to, remind yourself that THIS is why you are getting divorced. 

You chose to remove this relationship from your life, so don't waste your time and emotional energy reliving the relationship in your head. 

5. Avoid speaking negatively about your ex to anyone — including to yourself.

Your choice to marry this person came with a hefty price. You paid that price throughout your marriage, and therefore you are getting a divorce. 

It is time for you to stop making yourself pay. Let go completely, even of your own negative thoughts, in order to heal and begin your new life.

6. Distinguish between all the ways you were that worked and all that didn’t work.

Healing means forgiving yourself — for the wrong choices you made, for choosing this person as a mate, for the behaviors that created an unhealthy relationship, and for the behaviors that led to you not take care of yourself. 

Recognize and hold onto the thoughts, emotions and behaviors that created favorable results, and release the unhealthy beliefs and actions that led to the destruction of your relationship. Strive to learn new, healthier attitude and options for healthier relationships in the future.

Being an adult means mindfully honoring your emotions, then funneling them through logic and wisdom to create a healthy vision for the future YOU will create.

Be sure to behave in ways meant to foster win-win outcomes, and work to catch yourself when your thoughts, emotions, intentions and/or behaviors turn hostile, aggressive, or negative.

Remember that you and your ex are the primary role models for your children.

The way you treat their other parent is the way you are teaching your child to treat their future mate, and the way you are teaching your child to allow themselves to be treated.

Dr. Foojan Zeine is a Psychotherapist and Coach. She is the originator of Awareness Integration Model therapeutic model and the founder and the CEO of Personal Growth Institute. Her expertise is in Intimate Relations and Addictive Behaviors with extensive experience treating Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and Domestic Violence.  Offices in Brentwood, Irvine and Tarzana, CA. 818-648-2140. www.foojan.com