We all know at least one couple like Daniel and Tammy. They had been unhappy and fighting with one another for years. They argued about who was doing what around the home, parenting styles, money, politics and the lack of closeness and sex. They fought with one another in front of friends and family and even in front of their kids.
It was uncomfortable to be around them, always trespassing into a place where, even though invited, we had no business. And then one Sunday, Daniel finally said, “I’m done,” packed a bag and left the family home.
By the time a couple has made the life-changing and often painful decision to divorce, their relationship has often deteriorated to the point where they can barely speak to one another. Their inability to communicate is the exact thing that has led countless couples down the path of long, drawn-out court battles, tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer fees, and potentially years of stress and anger, venom and hate towards the one they pledged to love until death do us part.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. When you’re facing the divorce process, you can save yourselves a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering if each individual is willing to slow down and communicate, manage their emotions and come to an agreement on their own.
How you set the stage for your separation and subsequent divorce will dictate how well you’ll be able to communicate with one another through the process. If you’re the one that wants the divorce, then you’ve had some time to think about this and come to terms with it mentally and emotionally; your spouse likely has not.
So, you need to bring him or her along, giving them time to process what’s happening. Of course, it’s easier to act out in anger, ripping the bandage off so that the pain can happen quickly. It’s much kinder and far more peaceful when you are able and willing to move through the process of separating slowly and gently so your spouse can catch-up with you regarding the change.
Behave as emotional adults
Being an emotional adult during this process means each of you not blaming the other for the demise of your marriage, knowing you both played a role. This means looking at how your choices, actions, and behaviors contributed to the marriage struggles and taking responsibility for those things.
This means you being in charge of your emotions, being aware and in control of what you’re feeling, rather than letting your range of emotions drive and dictate your actions and reactions. If you let your emotions take the wheel during this, they will likely drive you right off a cliff. Know what you’re feeling, take responsibility for how you’re feeling and feel on purpose.
Come to an agreement on your own
In most states, how assets and liabilities are divided between two spouses is essentially a math equation, the rest is drama. The court identifies how much is coming in and how much is going out, considering both the expenses and long-term assets. Gain an understanding of what the laws are in your state and sit down having a reasonable conversation with your soon-to-be-ex and see if you can do the math on your own so that you can come to a reasonable agreement.
Think about it: the more drama the two of you bring, the more you require your lawyers to fight on your behalf, and they get paid by the hour. The closer you two can get to an agreement, the less you have to invest in lawyers. It’s infinitely less expensive to find some common ground.
Sometimes marriages do not last until death do us part. Sometimes we unintentionally hurt one another in the process. And sometimes relationships are simply complete and what you want in the future looks dramatically different than what you wanted in the past.
But when a relationship ends, you get to choose how you move through the process. It will never be easy, but you don’t have to sign yourself up for years of anger, venom, and hate, as well as unending stress and tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer bills. You can take it slow, communicate, manage your emotions and show up as the person you want to be while you move through the divorce.
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