7 Keys to Creating An Amicable Divorce: Guest Post
My friend and trusted colleague Michelle Farris, LMFT offers the guest post with great advice for divorcing couples about how to manage your own pain, end the blame cycle, and minimize the negative impact of divorce on your children.
What about the kids? Every divorce parent worries about what divorce will do to their kids. It may keep you up at night obsessing over how you could prevent your children from experiencing such pain. As a clinical counselor, I want you to know that there is something you can do. It may sound like an impossible task, especially if the pain is still fresh. You might be thinking that I don’t understand. Based on my own experience, believe me I get it. I know firsthand the importance of creating a positive connection with an ex. We worked hard to lessen the impact by keeping communication open and eventually transformed our divorce into a working friendship. As a result, a harmonious (and yes, divorced) family unit was born. And my son loves it.
It only takes one
The secret is that it only takes one person to shift the energy and behave respectfully… despite what your ex is doing. What’s more; with continued effort, they often follow our lead. Unless there is physical or severe mental abuse, an amicable divorce is possible. Your ex’s name-calling and disrespectful comments don’t let you off the hook. Retaliating is never justified.
Studies show that the parents’ relationship after divorce contributes to the child’s ability to adjust afterwards. It is your actions that will minimize or contribute to their pain. It depends on how you choose to participate. Ironically, divorce is an opportunity to model healthy relationship behavior. As a parent, you want to do whatever you can to help ease your child’s pain. Here is your chance.
It starts with you
You can stop the cycle of blame and practice kindness all by yourself. You can refrain from participating in the fight. In order to stop fighting, you have to be willing to look at yourself.
Here are 7 keys to creating an amicable divorce:
- Be light and polite by remembering please and thank you. They go a long way towards being pleasant and are usually the first to go when divorcing.
- Ask your ex spouse’s opinion about the children. Don’t assume they’re always wrong. It’s easier than doing it alone, and even though you are no longer married, you have the joint responsible of raising and caring for your kids.
- Use time-outs to avoid blowups. Extended arguments increase the likelihood of frustration and even violence. Take a mental breather when conversations become too intense.
- Be accountable by acknowledging your mistakes. This creates a humble attitude rather than being right. Admittedly, this is not easy to do! But by recognizing and owning your problems, you’ll create a healthier and more productive with your ex spouse.
- Accept your ex spouse’s limitations. What drove you nuts when you were married isn’t likely to change. Don’t waste your energy trying to “fix” him/her.
- Stop talking about the marriage. Stop ruminating about the past (good and the bad). It’s over, right? Look instead to the future.
- Value each other’s unique strengths. Capitalize on where each of you parent most effectively and acknowledge areas where your former spouse shines.
I hope this post motivates you to develop an amicable divorce and get past the hurt. Your kids will learn valuable lessons in accountability, inner strength, and compassion if you are the example. Wouldn’t it be worth it to create something better?
Michelle Farris, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist in San Jose, California. She helps individuals and couples heal their anger, addiction, and codependency. For more information, visit her website: www.counselingrecovery.com.
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.