If you have broken up with your spouse, and are heading towards divorce, or already in the throes of it, it is imperative that you take all efforts to remain civil, especially if you have children involved. This will greatly impact your mental and physical health, and will give you more peace of mind once the process is behind you. The below tips can help navigate you and your soon-to-be ex away from the drama and negativity that is so often associated with a divorce. Of course, if you are in an abusive relationship, or in a marriage that has high levels of toxicity, these recommendations may not suit you, and you should contact a professional in that area for additional information.
1. Don’t put the kids in the middle: If you and your spouse have children, it is important to take a step back and observe how they are reacting to the situation. Listen to them and answer questions as a family unit. Make sure to remind your children that the divorce is not their fault, and that they are as loved as always. Many parents navigating a divorce find it useful to first meet with a family therapist to help guide them in breaking the news to the children. Being equipped with these tools can make a very difficult conversation a little more bearable.
If you are litigating custody issues and have disagreements regarding issues such as decision making and parenting time, it is not appropriate to discuss what is going on in court with children. Again, if they have questions, work together with a professional to obtain tips as to how to have these conversations. It is inevitable that the children will be confused and hurt. Hearing either parent talking negatively about the other will only exacerbate their pain, and also potentially create issues with their self-worth, as they identify deeply with both parents.
2. Put it in writing: If you find yourself engaging in heated debates and emotional arguments with your spouse during the breakdown of the marriage, it may help to step away from talking and instead to communicate in writing. If you are able to put thoughts down on paper (or a computer screen), you are better able to control the message. You can walk away and later make changes, when you are feeling less emotional. Furthermore, knowing that others may one day read the communications between two spouses can be incentive to engage in a more respectful and appropriate way.
3. Take care of yourself: Do not forget about your mental and physical wellbeing during such a trying time in your life. If you feel overwhelmed by what is taking place, talk to a therapist or another person in your life who can offer support and will not judge. Engage in enjoyable activities that can take your mind away from the stress. Meet with friends, exercise, or take a weekend trip away. Clearing your head can help you reach a less emotional, and more reasonable, resolution to your divorce.