We're constantly being told that divorce is traumatic, stressful, expensive, and painful. But what if there is another way? What if you could do this in a respectful way, and one which allows your family to thrive afterwards?
We've all seen what happens with a bad divorce - the battle, pain, betrayal, blame, and shame; the parents who can’t be at the same event for years afterward, the friends that choose sides. We're constantly being told that divorce is traumatic, stressful, expensive, and painful. But what if there is another way, what if you could do this in a respectful way, and one which allows for families to thrive afterward.
Here are some of the steps you can take that will assist you on this journey:
Recognising you haven't failed
Nobody sets out to get divorced, we commit to marriage and believe that we know our partner and want to be the same as we are today in 10, 20, 30 years from now. But during that time, we change and grow as individuals and can grow apart – particularly as we are now living a lot longer. Recognising this, and accepting that it’s no one’s fault , allows for further growth, and for you to both move on as individuals without blame.
1. An unhappy marriage is the bigger problem
We are all products of our environment. As children, we develop our beliefs, behaviours and habits in our sub-conscious that will dictate our outcomes for the rest of our lives – the majority of which come from our parents. It is essential, therefore, that we create the best environment possible, as parents, for our children – one that will empower them as adults to create their own success and healthy relationships. An unhappy marriage does not provide that, but a divorce done well will.
2. Managing expectations
Our expectations frame our perspective and determine what we focus on. If you go into a situation expecting a war you will physically and mentally put yourself in survival mode and this is too much for anyone to sustain - on a physical level your blood is drained from your brain to flood your arms and legs with oxygen ready to fight. This leaves little energy for you to function, let alone be a parent handling the emotions of your divorce. However, if you go into this process expecting to be treated fairly by your chosen legal counsel and each other this will give you the best chance to make good decisions and build a positive future.
3. Looking after your mind
Our minds are our best asset; our mental faculties shape our lives on a daily basis. The problem is most of us aren't aware of how to do this on a daily basis, let alone in a stressful situation. But looking after your emotional wellbeing and mindset are paramount to your ability to effectively parent and navigate your divorce. With every divorce, there is a phase of adjustment that should not be underestimated. Having the mental and emotional support to approach this will help you lay the foundations for a more effective family dynamic going forward.
4. Impact of your marriage
Frequently the ending of the marriage casts a shadow over what's gone before. But for most of us, we'll have created great memories, grown as people and produced amazing human beings that we wouldn't be without. Your marriage isn't something to regret, instead, it's something to look back on fondly. Being proud of what you achieved and acknowledging your successes will help you move on with your life.
5. Your family has changed shape
Divorce is the end, that is what society would have us believe but that is not the case especially for those with children. You are still very much a family - just reshaped. Our ability to adjust is one of our greatest assets and the reason we are not extinct. Building a healthy co-parenting relationship where you can both support one another in the lows, and enjoy the highs, is vital for your family’s success. And why is this the case? Because whether you like it or not there will be times when you will need the support of your co-parent to deal with situations that naturally arise when bringing up children. There will also be joyous family occasions you will both want to share that will connect you emotionally.
6. Don’t repeat mistakes
Divorce will leave an emotional imprint on our subconscious mind. This subconscious is where the conditioning from our long-buried unresolved issues in childhood resides. Because most of these wounds are unconscious to us, we’re driven to resolve them subconsciously. If we don't deal with these and the emotions of our divorce, we can end up reliving the same issue that’s followed us through our previous relationships. Identifying this and having the right emotional support to heal is vital so you can set yourself out on a new path.
7. Moving to a new stage
It may be hard to conceive of now, but at some point, both of you are likely to move on with your lives and meet new people, even have more children and/or marry again. Our children’s acceptance of our new partner and a good transition into your family is increased with each other's support. Having an effective co-parenting relationship is the only way to guarantee this and not undermine future relationships.
If you take on board these steps, you will position yourself to have long-lasting and happy relationships for all concerned. And with the divorce rates increasing year on year, it’s paramount to get this right and redefine the narrative that divorce is bad. A successful divorce can be the best thing for some families when done fairly, together and with the right support. With time you will come to realise it is an evolution not a finale, and one where families will end up being happier, stronger and more resilient as a result.
If you don't know what you want but you know you are not happy with where you are, this is a great exercise for helping you work out what it is your REALLY wanting. Only then can you focus on it create the action to make it happen.
Often people can’t tell the difference between brands, there is a massive difference between Chanel Gucci Fendi and Givenchy. In a similar vein, a question I am often asked is what is the difference between coaching and therapy.