The day you get married is one of the best days of your life… and the day you decide it’s time for a divorce is one of the worst. It’s crazy how the person you thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life with can change, or how you may be the one to realize something is missing.
Not to mention, the decision to get a divorce is only the first step to starting a fresh chapter. From there, you have to figure out who gets what, decide where you’d like to live now and start breaking the news to friends and family – all while keeping things civil with your ex-spouse.
It’s a lot to handle, especially if kids or pets are involved or if one of you financially depended on the other during your marriage. But, divorce doesn’t have to turn into a big mess.
Here are 10 ways you can keep divorce communication effective and pain-free.
1. Ease into the Process
If you decide it’s time for a divorce after one screaming match too many, you’re already getting things started on the wrong foot. It’s better to sit down and discuss where you are in the marriage rationally, then decide what the next best step is.
Most of the time that will lead to a divorce, but at least one that is fair and understanding on both sides. Sometimes, two spouses will realize there’s still something left to fight for and decide to go to couples therapy instead of a courtroom.
Even if your mind to get a divorce is made up, you still have to patient.
Let the other person get their plans in order and have a little compassion for them if you’re the one leaving. If your spouse comes to you with divorce intentions, try to react in a reasonable manner. You have every right to feel hurt and angry, but there’s no sense in lashing out.
2. Don’t Place Blame
Speaking of lashing out, do your best not to blame the other person. This doesn’t get either of you anywhere.
Instead, blame creates barriers in divorce communication. It aims to hurt feelings and instill a sense of guilt rather than get to the matter at hand. The more you point fingers at someone for walking away or “making you” walk away, the more complicated the divorce will get.
Take a step back, work through your feelings, then talk about the details of the divorce. It’s always better to approach such a sensitive situation from a rational perspective than an emotional one.
3. Seek Expert Advice
How can you be rational when your thoughts are all over the place? By seeking expert advice about handling divorce.
Contact a separated couple who you know has gone through a divorce, or find a professional specialist who deals with making divorce easier all the time. You can also do online research to see what divorce is all about and read books on the matter, too.
This is an important step for the both of you to take. It creates a better understanding of what court proceedings may entail or what each person has the rights to, and whether or not a big divorce battle is even worth it.
4. Consider Divorce Mediation
Instead of fighting about every little thing or rushing to get a lawyer for your divorce, think about using divorce mediation. This is a way to part peacefully by having one professional help you both come to terms.
Mediation requires both of you to meet with the person you’ve hired on a regular basis. You’ll have to sit down and discuss all the details one by one, together. Your soon-to-be-ex may not be the first person you want to see right now, but if you want to keep things civil, you have to take the first steps toward divorce side by side.
This allows you to stay on the same page and talk through different options. It can be the foundation for making fair decisions about the house, the cars, the furniture and so on.
5. Be Open About Getting a Lawyer
As beneficial as mediation can be, it doesn’t always work. Both of you have to be willing to be fair, honest, and patient with one another. That’s hard to do (or to ask from another) with so much heartbreak and disappointment involved.
The thing is, though, you at least have to be honest about getting a lawyer before you go and find one. Stating your intentions clearly allows the other person to be prepared, and it’s something you would want if you were on the receiving end of divorce papers.
Also, remember that going to court for your divorce doesn’t automatically mean having a “divorce battle.” You may want a lawyer if you’re worried about specific assets the two of you share, or you want to ensure your custody rights.
Such things are worth taking careful action for – and Wiseman Lee can help you.
6. Choose Your Battles
Let’s be honest – some things matter to you enough to fight for. But, not everything does. If you’re going to make some parts of the divorce messy, do so for the ones that count.
Not everything is worth screaming about, delaying paperwork for, and putting your lawyers in the middle of. All that does is create drama and make the divorce process much longer than it has to be.
Maybe your ex threatened to take the kids or the dogs. Maybe you don’t have either of those but you’re worried about them getting the house that you worked hard to buy and design.
Whatever it is that matters most to you, do your best to get it. But, be willing to compromise and meet halfway unless you’re willing to go from a healthy divorce process to an all-out war zone.
7. Take Care of Yourself
Another thing to consider is how exhausting fighting can be. It’s bad enough that your whole life is turned upside down or that paperwork and court dates are keeping you from moving forward with your life.
At every step of the divorce, you have to take care of yourself.
This means stepping away from going to bat for everything you want and going to do something for your soul instead. That could be a run, a spa day, or simply an afternoon watching movies on the couch with your kids. Whatever your self-care looks like, do it and commit to doing it.
Don’t call your lawyer while you’re out to brunch with friends or bring your divorce case up every time you see a family member. Taking a break from the situation from time to time recharges you mentally and emotionally. It helps you see the big picture of what you really want from this situation and get it via healthy divorce communication.
8. Put Your Ego Aside
Here’s something to consider: the fine line between self-care and being selfish. Don’t cross it, it won’t do you any good.
You have to put your ego aside if you want the divorce to go over smoothly. Getting a divorce isn’t about who “wins” or even who gets the most out of it. It’s about parting ways peacefully in a manner that leaves the two of you able to start over alone.
Maybe you feel like you’ve been given the short end of the stick with the way everything is playing out. Maybe you feel it’s right for you to get everything if your ex has broken your heart.
These emotions are understandable for you to experience, but you can’t act based on them. You have to set your ego aside if you really want a healthy divorce.
9. Find Your Support Group
So, are you supposed to just bottle up your emotions? Put a smile on your face and act civilly when you feel torn inside? Not exactly.
You can find places to vent and let your emotions be what they are – no matter how intense, messy, or all over the place they may be. You just have to figure out how to separate that from court proceedings and mediation meetings.
Find your people and keep them close. Call your best friend and go stay with him/her for a little while or pack a bag and head to your parents’/sibling’s house. Wherever you can feel comforted and supported, go there.
Don’t rule out the thought of formal support groups, either. Divorce is more common than you might think, and sometimes, it helps just to know you’re not the only one going through it.
10. Keep the Kids Out of It
This may be the most important divorce communication tip of all. Your kids should not have to pay the price of you and your ex’s mistakes and hardships. Do not put them in the middle of the divorce.
Yes, you’re going to have to figure out custody and find ways to move forward as a family with separated parents. Still, you can’t do this at the expense of their well-being. Be honest with your children about what’s going on and what the plans are, but save your anger and even your guilt for when they’re not around.
Use Healthy Divorce Communication to Settle Things and Move On
At the end of the day, keep in mind approaching a divorce from a civil standpoint will get things done much faster than fighting will. When you put emotions aside and think about the matter at hand, everything becomes more simple.
Use the divorce communication tips mentioned above to help you keep your cool and get what you want. It doesn’t have to be a choice between one or the other, and you don’t have to “roll over” or “win” to get a successful divorce.
Plus, once it’s all over, you can finally start moving on.
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