It's Your Life, Take Charge!

Here are some practical suggestions on how to make your divorce easier and less adversarial -- so you and your children can move on with dignity and respect.

By Diana S. Dodson
Updated: September 25, 2014
Dating after Divorce

We need to learn how to have a more amenable divorce, especially when there are children involved. It is very difficult to get a divorce without feeling or doing some of the following:

  • Anger.
  • Getting even with our ex-spouse.
  • Blaming your spouse for the problems.
  • Not accepting your responsibility for the marriage breaking up.
  • Denying the problems exist.
  • Putting the children in the middle.
  • Feeling like a failure.
  • Feeling rejected.

Don't try to get even with your spouse

These are some of the things we do and feel when we are in the middle of getting a divorce. We may feel we aren't to blame and we don't know how the marriage went wrong. Because we have so many feelings, one of our first desires may be to get even with our soon to be ex-spouse. We want them to feel as badly as we do. We do things that we know will hurt them.

Getting even is only a temporary fix and can hurt the children. We really don't want to set a bad example for our children. Please remember our children are the most precious things in our lives. We want them to respect us and we need to set a good example no matter how we feel.

When one or the other spouse is feeling negative, or does not love their spouse anymore, they often set up negative situations, hoping the other one will leave the marriage. It's harder to say, "I don't love you anymore," than to create a miserable marriage. Try to at least be honest with your spouse and let them know how you're feeling. Honesty can at least decrease some of the anger and frustrations that you helped create.

Even if you feel some anger, frustration, or rejection or are just plain devastated, there are ways to feel better about the divorce.

Ideas and examples to try

  • Try to remember if both of you aren't happy in the marriage, then it really isn't a good marriage.
  • Don't try to hurt the other person. This is very immature. You may think this will make you feel better, but you will probably feel ashamed of yourself when you start to feel better. You will probably feel that your ex-spouse wasn't worth the emotional turmoil you put yourself through.
  • Don't blame the other one entirely. Accept your part in the breakup.
  • Try to sit down quietly, maybe with an unbiased third party, to work out some of the logistics of the divorce.
  • Talk with someone about the divorce to get a reality check. "Am I doing the right thing?" "Am I overreacting?"
  • You may want to try a trial separation. Step back from the marriage to see the relationship from a different point of view.

Might the marriage still work out?

Go to marriage counseling, even if you feel finished with the marriage. Things may still be worked out.

If you truly would like to get back with your spouse, try not to do the same kinds of things that got you into the troubled marriage. If there was an affair, by all means, get that person out of your life.

If you drink or do drugs too much, get yourself into treatment so you can show your spouse you're willing to change your behavior. You will never have a successful relationship if drugs or alcohol are a major part of the marriage. These chemicals distort reality and help to create an attitude of not caring about what happens in the relationship.

You must tell each other the truth and stop lying. Don't distort and manipulate your feelings. If you aren't honest with your feelings, then that is a form of a lie.

A few parenting tips

If parents can accept the divorce and come to terms with themselves and each other, the divorce will be much easier on the children. The children will then have a better chance to adjust. Accept that it is over, learn, and grow from the experience and become a better parent.

Never put the children in the middle. Don't use them to get even. Don't say bad things about the other parent to your children. This could come back to haunt you as the children get older and are able to see you for who you really are.

Set some rules that are the same at both houses. If the child is acting out at school, stealing, cutting school, getting a speeding ticket, or not getting good grades you should have certain rules that apply to them no matter if they're with their mom or their dad.


Diana S. Dodson has spent many years working as a counselor and mental health consultant for children, adolescents, and adult schizophrenics. This article has been edited and excerpted from It's Your Life, Take Charge! Read more about how you can understand yourself to a greater extent and be your own guide to your happiness.

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October 23, 2009

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