Are you afraid of the impact your divorce will have on your children?
You can ease the impact on your family by divorcing well by letting go of why and focusing on now.
I will always regret that my husband and I couldn’t do any better than divorce. But I’m proud that we found a way to divorce well.
What does it mean to divorce well? It means putting your children’s interests ahead of your own and working hard to create a sense of security for them. It means giving them the knowledge that even though their parents are no longer together, the core of their family still exists and will always be there for them.
What I’m not proud of is that it took my husband and me a while to recognize the importance of this goal and even longer to agree to pursue it. After our divorce, we struggled for a long time with “whys.”
- Why couldn’t we make our marriage work?
- Why didn’t we work harder to save it?
- Why did we choose to put our children through the pain of divorce?
- Why couldn’t we go back and do things differently?
All these questions were leading nowhere positive. In fact, they were causing further deterioration to our already fractured relationship. More importantly, our children were reacting to the constant upheaval these, shall I say, “discussions” were causing.
Two teenage boys, a young daughter and constant battles were draining the last energy I had.
Fortunately, a wise friend persuaded me to give up on the “whys.” She told me I was wasting energy focusing on these questions and said she’d be happy to talk about anything that would move things forward.
I’m grateful that my ex-husband was willing to be on the same page, he too had a desire to end the “why” conversations, get on with the divorce, and spare the children any more drama.
Coming from a divorced family myself, I never wanted my children to experience the loss, frustration, inconvenience, and confusion the breakup of a marriage can cause. I know all too well what it’s like to have unhappy parents and to sense the family imploding. Most of all, I remember my disconnected feelings in the aftermath.
Ironically, it was this need in me to create a strong sense of family that may have been a contributing factor to my own divorce. My ex-husband’s understanding of family was not even close to what I had in my mind.
Yes, nine years later, the “whys” of our breakup are gaining clarity. But we no longer use them to blame each other or ourselves. Instead, we use our new understanding to improve our co-parenting relationship and create a better situation for our children.
Here are 10 ways you can let go of your own “whys” and begin to divorce well.
- Love your children more than you dislike or hate your divorcing spouse.
- Seek peaceful solutions; avoid outright battles.
- Imagine your children reviewing in their minds how you handled a situation. Are they proud, grateful, relieved, and calm? Or the complete opposite: confused, worried, and torn?
- Figure out the best way to communicate with your co-parent. My husband and I quickly discovered that emailing led to misreading each other’s intentions. So now we send a text saying “Need to discuss something – when can you talk?”
- When a conversation starts to go downhill or turn negative, stop. You could say, “The way things are going is stressing me out. Our tone needs to change, or else I need to get off the call.” In my case usually leads to a time out.
- Avoid communication of any kind when you’re worked up. You’re not in the right frame of mind to solve a problem. You are in a perfect mood to attack, blame, and accuse.
- Never put the kids in the middle of a conflict.
- Never speak negatively about your children’s other parent. (Well, do your best.)
- When a new relationship comes along, keep your children your top priority.
- Whatever your modern family looks like, make sure and give your kids the sense that it is a family.
Hopefully, your (ex)-spouse will join you in this goal. And if they prefer to remain at war, to fight you to the end? 10I’ll share some strategies in my next post.
In the meantime, do your best and aspire to divorce well. Even starting with one or two strategies will create positive momentum. Which two are you willing to try? Your children will be the ones to reap the benefits.