Headlines on ugly Hollywood Divorces and movies like "War of the Roses" are what we are used to hearing about. Drama is what sells but like any good hospital stay, what you really want is for your divorce to be described as boring. Amicable. Perhaps even friendly. I've seen it happen right here in suburban Chicago so don't think it can't happen to you. For a divorce to be amicable, in my experience both people have to make a concerted effort and decide in advance to make every effot to try get along throughout the process.
I don't meant to make it sound easy. The reality is that divorce is not easy and is often times a very painful and uncertain process. But if it is something that you have to go through anyway, there are things that can be done to make it easier.
- If the finances allow for it and children are not an issue, move out after discussing it with your attorney, since there could be legal conseuquences. Divorcing couples who stay in the same home is often a recipe for disaster. If you do have to live together, acknowledge to each other that things are different now since you are no longer a couple. Define expectations and decide together how things will work; for example, will each of you shop for and prepare your own meals?
- Keep a level head. Use your head more than your heart.
- If your spouse seems determined to make you miserable, don't buy into his or her games. Be the mature one and go for a walk if you have to.
- Set ground rules as soon as possible regarding communication, children, and privacy. The rules will work both ways and apply to both of you.
- Be respectful. This is the single most important rule of all. If you both do this, everything else will fall into place easier. This includes respecting the other person's physical space, personal papers and belongings.
- If you have moved out, stay out. Only come back into the house if you have your spouse's permission.
- Act like an Adult & Keep your Cool. Your spouse may try to push your buttons as a way for some interaction. Don't let it get to you and if you see a fight coming on, leave the conversation. At this point, fights are not about making up anymore. There is just no point. If something important is going on you may want to discuss it with your lawyer to see what can be done.
- Keep things status quo and in terms of money until you have talked to your lawyer about the best way for finances to be handled. Don't drain the bank account or make major purchses. You don't want to run up legal fees with claims of dissipation which is where your spouse will accuse you of widdling away money inappropriately.
- Don't do things for the sole purpose of upsetting your spouse. It will only escalate things. On the other hand, don't let your spouse be mean or push you around. See if you can talk it out with the common goal of keeping the peace.
- Consider divorce mediation. A neutral mediator is trained to help you and your spouse keeps things civil while helping you to negotiate the terms of the divorce. Sitting in a room together to calmly discuss things can be difficult but is good practice for later, and is especially important if you have children together. Besides saving your sanity, a kinder divorce will also be easier on the finances as you find common ground and can keep things moving forward. Divorce is very expensive but mediation can make it much more affordable and amicable.
Those who do best in divorce situations have moved past the stage of feeling constantly victimized. Instead of focusing on the past and everything that went wrong in the marriage, they focus on the future and know that they will be okay.