My parents had a good divorce. My ex-husband and I had a good divorce. But, what does that mean? For years, I’ve been writing about the importance of a good divorce, and I realize it means something a little different to everyone who goes through the process.
Recently, I considered the common elements of a good divorce. How can I address this topic in a more effective and efficient manner? The answer came to me a few weeks ago. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the GOOD Divorce™ Philosophy:
G is for Goals. As you enter the Land of the Unknown, think about how you want the process to unfold and what kind of life you’d like to have on the other side. Consider your children: Would you like to set a goal to keep them out of the middle? Do you want to ensure they spend a certain amount of time with each parent? Consider your finances: How much money do you plan to spend on attorneys, fees, etc? How about family relations? Are you committed to maintaining civil relationships with your ex’s family? If possible, it’s best to discuss these matters with your ex and see where your goals overlap. If you can both commit to the same goals, you can support each other in reaching them. I personally believe that the divorce itself is a shared goal between two people looking to part ways.
O is for Observation (without judgment). In the dramatic throes of divorce, it’s all-too-easy to attach to negative emotions and retaliate after every perceived attack. If possible, take a step back and simply witness the situations that arise. Without acting on them, observe the multitude of emotions that broil up inside you. Without immediate reaction, observe the actions of your ex and consider his/her own pain that could be driving such hurtful outbursts. Observe, wait for the dust to settle and then choose a response instead of reacting in the heat of the moment.
O is for also Options. Recognize the plethora of options available to you. You can choose between a variety of options pertaining to your attitude, your actions and your future. Because the separation process can involve many twists and turns, it’s important to keep an open mind. Too often, couples decide what they want and then hire lawyers to go to battle for them. This can be a stressful and expensive experience. Instead, can you step outside your comfort zone to consider more creative solutions that will best meet everyone’s needs?
D is for Dignity. If you’re able to follow the previous steps toward a good divorce, the preservation of your own dignity will be a natural outcome. As you proceed down this new path, remember that the troubles of each moment will pass and you can always choose a dignified, as opposed to dirty, approach. It’s worth noting here that your dignity should not come at the expense of another. If you have children, remember that your ex is their parent and creator. Shaming him/her in front of your children means you are denigrating their DNA, thus disparaging them as individuals. As a parent, you have a responsibility to uphold your children’s dignity as well.
I think the best thing about this approach is that these principles make it possible to have a one-sided GOOD Divorce™. Regardless of whether or not The Ex is playing by the same rules, you can still set goals, observe without judging or reacting, consider options and proceed with dignified actions.
The GOOD Divorce™ Philosophy is easy to remember and adapt to individual circumstances. I hope you’ll give it a try or support others in their efforts.