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How to have a good divorce

2 May
22

What is a good divorce? And how do you have one? Find out here

Scene from TV show Split Nicola Walker and Stephen Mangan sitting at a table having a drink

There has been a lot of talk in the media of late of a good divorce, with the final series of split as well as a no fault divorce coming into effect last month. It would appear we are at last trying to remove the blame game and instead focusing on moving on in a healthy way and recognising the idea of a blended family. But what is a good divorce and how do you have one? Here are my tips:

An amicable divorce is better than an unhappy marriage

We are all products of our environment. As children, we develop our beliefs, behaviours and habits in our subconscious 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 can.  

Recognise 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. 

Own your divorce narrative

It is common at a time like this to take on the social assumptions that divorce is painful and a war between two people. This misconception is played out in our media and society all the time and it is far from the reality you have to accept. This is your divorce, you write the narrative and decide how this is going to go. You can choose to do it better and come away as two whole people rather than two battered halves.

Manage your expectations  

Our expectations frame our perspective and determine what we focus upon. 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 on decisions and build a positive future.

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 at the best of times, 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.   

Celebrate the legacy 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 can be something to look back on fondly. Being proud of what you achieved and acknowledging your successes will help you move on with your life. 

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.  

Put your kids’ needs first

No matter how hard it is, or how much pain you are in, you need to both commit to providing your children with the stability and consistency they need to help them come to terms with this change in their lives. Taking this approach  keeps you focused on rebuilding your connections rather than destroying them and makes for a better outcome. 

 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 lives. Identifying this and having the right emotional support to heal is vital so you can set yourself on a new path.  

Get help to heal

Coaching,  books, online resources,  courses, support groups and memberships – there is so much help available for you out there. Clearly you recognise this by being a member of Fresh Start, so well done. This is your way to make sure you can heal, accept and move on successfully.

Avoid a hard rebound

Fears of being unlovable or never finding love again might push you into looking or finding a new relationship before you are ready. Resist the temptation, remain grounded and take the time to heal so that you can build relationships based on love, not fear – it will serve you in the long run.

Moving on with someone new

It may be hard to conceive of now, but at some point, you are likely to move on with your life  and meet someone new, 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.  

 

Divorce is not to be underestimated, it is a huge emotional life change that will affect every area of your life and have a lasting impact on you and your children. But it does not have to be bad. It is the ending of a marriage but not of a family. It is also a beginning for what comes next. It is your divorce, your life, your narrative. Make it a good one for you, your children and theirs. 

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