A divorce by its nature is not charming. However, is there a way to aim to make it amicable?
The internal experience of divorce usually mimics the experience of the death of a loved one. Although the person is not dead, we have lost them. The problem does not end here, because together with it comes the loss of our home, the security we have had, our finances, the comfort, intimacy, friends, and more.
Basically, we need to recognize that we are going through a process that shares feelings with grief. Dr E. Ross-Kobler who worked for many years with terminally ill patients has identified 5 stages a person may go through while grieving a loss of any kind, and they are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A normal question to ask is: if in our present experience we go through so many challenging emotions, how is it possible to expect an amicable divorce?
True, but nonetheless, our responsibility is to respect our feelings, but aim to have amicable divorce for the sake of our children and our own well-being!
Therefore, it is important to learn some strategies that would help you to: (a) deal with the loss and pain, (b) find effective pathways to ease the process, and (c) end up with a peaceful outcome.
Here are some useful and practical suggestions:
- Pay attention to your feelings
It is normal to experience emotional hurt or pain. For example, it is difficult to accept the rejection... or you may feel emptiness when you think of your future... or you experience anger and feel resentful... you are angry at God... you worry that you cannot share your life with someone again... you feel betrayed, unworthy, confused, fragmented, vulnerable, broken and more...
No matter what your feelings are, they are valid. Yes, the feelings can be validated and acknowledged, but they must not take over and stay with you forever. You have to recognize that keeping these feelings will cloud your judgment, will sabotage the suitable progress of your divorce process, and will prevent you from achieving an amicable divorce.
If you realize that it is difficult for you to go through the changes and emotions, please seek the help of a mental health professional. A neutral party will help you deal with all that you feel, as well as with the possible loss of trust, respect and affection. You will also gain coping strategies and feel supported during the unpleasant process.
- Create a healthy emotional life for your children
If you have children please make sure that neither parent use them as weapons against the other. Deep harm can be caused when parents expose their children to the conflict and bitterness between each other. As a parent (regardless of what the attitude of your spouse may be), you have a paramount responsibility to make sure that they are not trapped in a situation where they are required to show loyalty to either parent. Or that they need to choose between your or your spouse, e.g. "If you love me you will..." This is a classic manipulation that puts your child in a bind. Learn to be aware of your negative feelings so you avoid emotional transference, which will only poison your children.
You goal is to deal with the situation with the following perspective in mind: "what would be best for our children?" Therefore your answers to the questions like: "How do we agree on custody," &What is the best way to arrange visitations," "How can we as parents share the responsibilities," should all be based upon: what is best for my children.
- Have an attorney you feel comfortable with
If court and attorneys are not your forte , you have to develop an attitude that sees the positive side of dealing with court and attorneys. This will shift your perception and make you feel less bothered by the situation. If you find an attorney that you feel comfortable with and believe he/she shares similar beliefs to the ones you do, it will help you make your divorce more amicable. The aggressive attorney is not always the right solution for you! An attorney's tricks that are not aligned with your beliefs or style can frustrate you and add to your stress.
Share that you intend to build a sound financial plan and assist your attorney by preparing all the necessary documents. Share with him/her that your aim is to work it through in an amicable way. This may cause your spouse to be enrolled into your desires and could eliminate many arguments.
- Refrain from talking about your ex-spouse in a negative manner
Develop a habit of not saying anything negative about your ex. This will help your children, family and friends. When people notice that you do not say anything negative about your ex-spouse, their need to say anything or take sides will subside. Share with them that your aim is to establish an amicable divorce.
- Put your focus on your future life
Create an environment in which you do not have long-lasting memories of your marriage. Start letting go of any emotional attachment you may have to "external things/items." This will help you to stop fighting over them.
When you "let go" of the past, you open yourself to a better future. You allow the infinite wisdom of the creator to bring to you new things. if you still hold on to the past, you are not available for new things to come to you.
Aim at implementing the above and you may be surprised how much less straining your divorce process can be!
Dr. Lami is an internationally renowned psychologist with over 18 years of experience helping her clients effectively deal with challenges associated with the process of divorce. Her services include Psychotherapy, Coaching, Evaluation (including Affluenza), Expert witness, Speaking and Consulting. She regularly writes on relationships and has been featured in the media. Visit the firm's website at drlami.com or universalinsights.net.