New Years offers everyone the opportunity to make a fresh start. With the stress of the holidays behind them, many unhappily married individuals will seek legal counsel in the coming year. It’s a big step that usually comes after months or years of utter misery. While the first step is often celebratory, we shouldn’t forget that The Road To a Decree can be long, windy and exhausting. Some personal rules, developed with a healthy ending in mind, can have a positive impact on the process. To those who have resolved to Start Over Without Him/Her in the next year, I’d like to suggest some additional resolutions, specific to your divorce…
- Use Your Team Players Appropriately: Lawyers, therapists, coaches, financial planners, family members, friends and childcare workers all have their specialties. Be careful not to interchange them, it could cost you (ie: paying your lawyer $350 to listen to you vent about how your in-laws ruined the holidays).
- Employ Productive Communication: No cheap shots or name-calling. Keep it all-business if necessary (casual chit-chat can go downhill quickly). Be clear about the issue and be clear about what you want.
- Be Responsible: Take responsibility for your personal property, your children, your actions, communication, etc. Separation and co-parenting are processes that require teamwork. Essentially, this is the “for worse” that you pledged to participate in when you uttered your vows.
- Be Respectful: Respect your ex’s space, property, feelings, relationships and personal choices. Respect your children’s right to love both parents and the bond that exists on the “other side”.
- Let It Go: It’s not fair that he refused to return your things. It sucks that she strategically trashtalked you in effort to cause harm. But that’s his/her karma. Other peoples’ actions speak volumes about them– not you. Cut the strings; don’t let them hold you down.
- Have Compassion: People who hurt people are hurting people. And there’s no way you’ll ever fully understand the journey of another. If you’re considering retaliation, consider the idea that harmful actions come from a place of pain. Do you really want to cause more pain and feed the cycle?
- Be Good to Yourself: Ease up on the pressure. Nobody can be the perfect ex or the perfect parent. Treat yourself to some nourishing R&R, and keep doing your best.
- Set and Maintain Boundaries: This could refer to how you communicate with The Ex, or what you talk about. It might mean that you choose neutral locations to pick up/drop off the kids. Perhaps you revise your social media security settings and resist the temptation to go snooping for dirt on his/her public persona. Think carefully about how you can balance taking care of business with personal space and room to grow/heal.
As with any uncharted territory, divorce is a little easier if you can fashion a map to guide you through the process. Consider your situation and your needs… work with others to help set appropriate goals and boundaries. A thoughtful approach tends to work better than an emotion-driven war.