I was recently invited to collaborate on an expert panel and share some insights on how to prepare for divorce and keep it peaceful. Here are my best tips:
The first tip I would offer would be to do some real soul searching to understand why the marriage is ending.
It’s easy to put all the blame on your spouse, but that’s not fair to either of you. When you assign all the blame to the other person, you are making yourself a victim. Having a victim mentality gives you a sense of powerlessness.
To have a peaceful divorce, both people need to feel like they are on even ground.
Also important is to keep the lines of communication open.
Having an open, rational dialogue with your spouse will go a long way to maintaining the peace. I remember when I was growing up, my mother always told me, “It’s not necessarily what you say, it’s how you say it.” Often we don’t realize how people are affected by the things we say, so think before speaking.
Using the services of a good mediator can help keep the lines of communication open.
Sometimes a couple that had communication problems during the marriage will learn from the mediator how to have an open and honest exchange of information, while expressing their needs and expectations in a positive way.
Finally, try to avoid “knee jerk” reactions.
Let’s face it, divorce is stressful. When we’re under stress we don’t always think before we act – add to that your spouse pushing your buttons and it’s easy to see why that happens. In my personal experience, most of my knee jerk reactions didn’t go so well for me.
When confronted with an issue, stop for a minute, take a deep breath and think about the best way to handle the situation. It’s ok to say, “Let me get back to you on that” or “Can we talk about that later?” so you have time to think the situation through.
Using these three tips will help make what could be a hostile situation much more amicable.