How to Divorce Amicably
When saying “I do”, chances are thoughts of ending your marriage where not on your mind. At some point down the line, your marriage has broken down and it’s time to go your separate ways. While the pain and loss may feel overwhelming at the moment, you are not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Although you likely feel some resentment and anger toward your spouse, divorce does not have to ruin your relationship. This is especially important if you have children and will need to coparent for the remainder of their lives.
What is an amicable divorce?
An amicable divorce is one in which you both work together to reach an outcome that is fair and favorable. Rather than “sling mud” or point fingers in an effort to hurt one another, you compromise and work towards a result that is best for you and your family. This requires a high level of emotional maturity, which isn’t always easy, but with the right amount of effort and commitment from both parties, it is definitely possible. Many couples approach the divorce process with anger and resentment due to unmet needs and expectations during the marriage, which creates a tremendous amount of conflict in the divorce process. With the right amount of focus, you can amicably reach an agreement that benefits both you and your spouse.
Hold your tongue.
If there are children involved, the last thing you want is to put them in the middle. Save your venting for your friends, when your children are not around and avoid telling your kids exactly what you think of your soon to be ex. Think about your children at all times and never speak negatively about the other parent. This is harmful to your kids and makes them feel as if a piece of them is bad. There is little more destructive to kids than their parents engaging in mutual trash talking. Keep your negative comments to yourself if your children are around.
Be clear and kind.
Emotions are raw and often running high during a separation or divorce. You may be tempted to let your heart rule your head and lash out when you are upset. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Give your soon to be ex the benefit of the doubt and make an effort to communicate with them the way you would like to be communicated with. The divorce process is not a time to play games. It’s too painful and you both deserve peace and resolution as quickly as possible. When negotiating, be clear about your desires and kind in your delivery. It is always better if you and your spouse can come to an agreement outside of court. Otherwise, someone you do not know (the judge) will have to make a determination of what is in everyone’s best interest. The judge does not know you personally and will not be part of your life after your divorce. He or she will be making decisions about your life after having only met you in court on the day of your trial. Being amicable in your divorce allows you and your spouse make decisions about what is in your best interest for your future post-divorce.
Stay focused on the goal.
The war is over so stop trying to win battles. When getting divorced, the end goal is that you both come out unscathed. Keep your eye on the prize. Remind yourself and each other of the ultimate goal, which is to separate your lives and avoid harming each other needlessly during the process.
Rank your priorities.
Spoiler alert: you cannot have it all. You are separating one household into two, so it is impossible for everything to stay the same. Take a minute to consider what is most important to you. Keep in mind that some compromise will be necessary in the divorce process. Marriages require a great deal of compromise and so do divorces. As you begin to negotiate your divorce, it is helpful to have a list of what is most important to you. Figure out what you are willing to compromise on and where you feel like you need to stick to your guns. Focus on what really matters to you and compromise on the rest. If time with your kids is what matters to you most, then perhaps you are willing to let go of some of your financial demands in exchange.
The divorce process is not a time to play games. It’s too painful and you both deserve peace and resolution as quickly as possible. When negotiating, be clear about your desires and kind in your delivery.
You might be angry, upset, frustrated and disappointed with your ex. Breaking up is not easy, but rather than letting your emotions rule your interactions, try a different approach. Dig deep and find some empathy. Although you can’t save your marriage at this point, you can divorce in a way that doesn’t leave you desolate and full of hate. Try to practice some empathy in your interactions with your spouse. Empathy begets empathy. If you lead with it, there a likelihood your partner will meet you there.
Set healthy boundaries.
Divorce is a new chapter in your collective story. It’s time to carve out a new type of relationship with your spouse that will work for your future. While married, you may have texted each other at all hours of the day and night, but in the divorce process, you may want to set a different boundary. Be clear with your spouse about your new boundaries. Set limits on contact and communication that you feel comfortable with. You may tell your spouse you will not respond to texts or calls after a certain time, or only about certain topics. Or, perhaps you need to tell your spouse that you won’t respond to texts or emails in which he or she is demeaning or belittling you. Remember that you teach people how to treat you. Now that you are ending your marriage, you need to establish new rules and boundaries that work for you.
Leave threats at the door.
Heartbreak can cause people to behave uncharacteristically. When you are mourning the loss of your marriage and feel hard done by, it is easy to find yourself throwing out ultimatums and threats to ensure things go your way. Don’t make this mistake. This rarely works as an approach and often leads the other person to become more rigid and alienated and leads to further litigation.
Can you remain friends after divorce?
Once you’ve signed on the dotted line and your divorce is final, what does this mean for your relationship? If you maintain some level of caring after a divorce, you want to be friends with your ex-spouse. While that is a worthwhile goal, keep in mind that it takes time and patience. Divorce is a huge loss no matter if you wanted the divorce or not. Give yourself time and space to grieve before attempting to be friends. Your partner may need time as well. If you focus on creating friendship too soon after divorce, the boundaries of marriage and friendship can get blurred, often causing more pain and confusion in the long run. With adequate time, and healing you can create a new relationship without the hurt and anger that initially led to the breakup. If there are children involved, their best interests will be served by knowing their parents care for one another although they are no longer in the same household.