We’ve all seen headlines in the tabloids or on TV portraying divorcing spouses behaving badly. It is almost expected these days. While your divorce may not be a matter of public debate, there will come a moment after the divorce when you look back and observe your behavior during your divorce.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid having to make apologies or feel as if you were not your best self throughout the divorce process. Many people lose control and lash out during divorce proceedings and for a long time afterwards. It is understandable given the personal and emotional issues that are being handled. Remember, you and you alone are responsible for how you react and behave while you navigate your divorce.
Don’t Let Divorce Change Who You Are
Extreme circumstances can cause us to lose ourselves sometimes. Divorce can be one of those times, if we’re not careful. Divorce is a time of emotional crisis, as we try to juggle our grief, anger, fear and exhaustion while handling work, finances, childcare and legal matters. It can be hard not to lash out from the stress, anxiety and sheer exhaustion of it all.
Give yourself some time to think about how you want the story to be told down the road – your demeanor under pressure at this tumultuous time. How do you want your kids to remember it? “Mom and Dad really went out of their way to make the transition easy for us – as kids we didn’t think twice about what our parents were dealing with…” will feel a lot better than being dragged into your grown child’s therapy appointments.
Once you have decided that you want to divorce with dignity, make sure that you have a plan in place to take care of yourself. Do the things that comfort you and bring you joy. Eat right, get some exercise, and talk with trusted friends, clergy or a counselor. One divorcing woman I know made a point to buy fresh cut flowers for her home weekly. It was an inexpensive reminder that she was taking care of herself.
Double up your filters
Not so good under pressure? That is OK. Conduct your communication with your spouse via email, text or a neutral third party mediator. Written communication gives you the cooling off time that you may need in heated situations. If you are uncomfortable in face-to-face situations, use the phone. The point here is to know yourself and understand how best to filter out the angry, inflammatory or hurtful things that you may be thinking.
Play Nice in Front of the Kids
Congratulations! You are divorced… your relationship with your ex-spouse has just made a monumental change. The two of you are now business partners. You are in the business of raising happy, healthy kids – no doubt something you both want. Make an agreement not to discuss hot button issues at drop off and pick up times.
Agree to talk after the kids are in bed or better yet when they are in school or at grandma’s. Do your best to support each other when the other parent is absent. Putting kids in the middle is a recipe for unhappiness.
The key to divorcing with dignity is self-control. Know your strengths and weaknesses, understand what is important to you and keep the lines of communication open by being willing to listen and respond to your ex-spouse with respect and confidence.
If you are facing divorce, it helps to understand your rights and obligations. At McMichen, Cinami & Demps, our divorce lawyers represent clients in divorces throughout the greater Orlando area. Contact us today for a free consultation.