Getting divorced is hard enough without the extra emotional pain that comes with processing the separation in a practical sense. If divorce is something that cannot be avoided it is important to do your best to make the separation as smooth and painless as possible for both parties.
In this article, we outline tips to help you navigate a separation without it descending into a messy and bitter fight.
The first thing you should think about when working through your divorce is to keep in mind that this is very difficult for both parties. Though the pain you are likely to feel will be extreme and there may be all sorts of other anger and feelings of betrayal involved – it is important to keep in mind that this is a very challenging situation for all involved.
Divorce has a habit of bringing out the worst in people and it can make two people that were once passionately in love become the worst of enemies.
A bitter divorce is a terrible outcome for both people and just makes a bad situation even worse.
Even if you have good reason to be angry with the other person it is still better to avoid a bitter divorce for yourself. It’s not about saying that what the other person did was OK. But selfishly, from your point of view, making a divorce simple is better for you.
Getting separated requires lots of hard conversations about lots of very emotive issues. Not only is your relationship coming to an end, but you now need to figure out how to divide up everything that you once shared.
This includes your finances, your home, your pets, and all of your belongings.
Given the number of strong emotions that may be involved, you may benefit from using reflective communication to help understand your ex-partner and help them understand you.
Reflective communication is a technique often used by counselors and psychologists to help have constructive conversations.
The good news is you do not need to be a social worker or psychologist to use reflective listening because it is a very simple skill to learn.
As the name suggests, reflective listening requires simply repeating back to the person the words they said to see if you understood them correctly.
For example, if someone says “I am so angry at you for what you are doing” our typical response would be to respond to the factual information in their statement and potentially defend ourselves or clarify how we see the situation. Unfortunately, this does not often lead to a fruitful discussion.
Using reflective listing in that situation would mean your reply would simply be “you are angry at me for what I’ve done?”.
Once somebody feels like they have been listened to, they often can be much more cooperative as it helps their brain process their thoughts and not be so caught up in emotion.
Whether you are discussing how to separate your belongings or how to deal with the children or what to do with the house, always try some reflective listening to help have more constructive conversations with your ex-partner.
GSRM can help with this communication as well, but there is a lot you will be able to do on your own.
A mistake we see in many divorce proceedings is that people are too greedy in the fall out of the separation. Given the amount of emotional pain that is often being felt by both parties, they tend to react to this pain by making extreme demands regarding the division of assets, time spent with children, and what post-separation agreements need to look like.
Though this is a very understandable thing to be feeling it will be better for both you and your ex-partner and any children involved if you make a strong effort to be very fair and reasonable in all your post-separation discussions, as you do the hard task of dividing up your life.
Depending on the reasons for the separation, this may feel like you are rewarding your ex-partner if they have done the wrong thing, and though this is a very valid concern we have seen far too many couples fight, over everything they own, to the extent that they ended up with such a high amount of legal fees that there was nothing left over once everything was processed.
So from a selfish point of view, it is in your best interests to quickly and amicably find a way to divide up your assets and your time with your children to avoid losing everything to the lawyers.
Divorce mediation might be useful to use in this situation if you are having trouble with this.
Getting divorced can bring out the worst character traits of all parties involved. To have a quick divorce that is as painless as possible and ensures that you end up with as much as possible at the other end it is best to use reflective listening to help the other person feel heard and get their concerns across.
Try not to punish the other person in the division of the assets otherwise, you will end up with legal fees that exceed the value of the assets you were trying to divide. When you do this, it is not about rewarding the other person for their bad behavior but protecting your own self interests.