Guest Blog: What You Can Do to Create an Amicable Divorce?

By Michelle Farris

Every parent worries about what divorce will do to their kids. It may keep you up at night or prevent you from leaving the marriage. But there are some things you can do to lessen the impact.

Once you’ve decided to divorce creating a positive connection with your ex is the next best thing you can do. This blog will show you how to do that.

Of course you may be saying “But you don’t know the jerk I’m married to!” In order to get through a divorce and successfully co-parent you need to learn to detach from your ex’s behavior.

Detachment means letting someone experience their own consequences. This is often associated with addiction or difficult personalities. In divorce, it means not trying to change, control or manipulate their behavior to get a different outcome.

Some tension and arguing are normal. Divorce is painful and triggers intense emotions. The key is learning not to let those feelings ruin the next 10-15 years of your life.

What is an amicable divorce?

An amicable divorce does not mean you agree with what happened or how you were treated. It means you are willing to be civil; this will save your sanity and your kid’s well being.

Become aware of how you tell the story of your divorce. For instance, at first, your story may revolve around your ex being the bad guy and you being the wounded victim. This is normal in the beginning but if you stay there, the story becomes a monster that can easily get out of control. You have the power to stop that right now by changing your story.

Amicable divorce is a process. It takes time and there will be moments when you blow it. Be gentle with yourself. No one goes through divorce effortlessly. The goal is to create an amicable connection instead of starting a war.

An amicable divorce has three parts. These build off of each other, so it’s best to start with step one.

The Three Steps to Creating an Amicable Divorce

  1. Self-care

The emotional process of going through a divorce is overwhelming. You might dip into a depression or start feeling anxious. Everything feels like it’s going too fast. You probably won’t feel like yourself and that’s to be expected. If it starts impacting your ability to function, please seek professional help. Individual therapy, support groups and short-term medications (if you are having trouble sleeping, going to work, taking care of yourself or your kids) can help you through those dark periods.

You will need your energy more than ever. Make sure that you get enough sleep, remember to eat healthy and exercise. Even talking short walks can improve your mood. Breathing the fresh air can be calming.

This is a vulnerable time where self-care has to be a priority. Refrain from doing favors or taking on new projects. Cut yourself some slack. Do less and ask for help.

  1. Support

Divorce is the second most stressful life event for a reason. It discombobulates your entire life. Make sure you have created a strong support system. Building that support now will make a difference in how you cope in the months ahead.

Family and friends are great but if you don’t feel comfortable talking with them, find alternative forms of support.

Here are a few resources that are really helpful.

Alanon – If your family has a history of addiction or dysfunction this is a FREE support group that deals with self-esteem and childhood pains that impact relationships.

Divorce Care – They provide group classes on the issues related to divorce. They offer kids groups too!

Second Saturday is a great resource for free talks on financial, legal and counseling issues. 

  1. Shift your focus

It only takes one person to shift the energy and behave respectfully. Regardless of what your ex is doing focus on making positive changes instead of dwelling on negativity. Expecting your ex to be different is a set up for disappointment. What’s more, with continued effort, your ex may follow your lead.

Unless there is physical or severe mental abuse, an amicable divorce is possible. Your ex’s name-calling and disrespectful comments don’t let you off the hook. Retaliation is never justified.

Studies show that the parents’ relationship after divorce contributes to the child’s ability to adjust afterwards. Your actions will minimize or contribute to their pain.

Ironically, divorce is an opportunity to model healthy relationship behavior. Relationships end and modeling how to do that in a healthy way is an important life lesson. As a parent, you want to ease your child’s pain. Here is your chance. Show them that relationships can end respectfully. 

What can you do now?

You can stop the cycle of blame and practice kindness all by yourself. Refrain from participating in the fight. Instead, focus on what you can do not what you can’t. Here are some helpful tips to keep you on track.

Be Light and polite by remembering basic manners. Some divorcing couples pick up the phone and say “What?” instead of hello. Adding gestures like please and thank you starts the ball rolling in the right direction. Do it for YOU and your sanity. Eventually, they will likely follow.

Use time-outs to avoid intense arguments. When arguments linger, name-calling and physical altercations increase. Pay attention to your stress. When you get to the point where you can’t listen, STOP TALKING. Research says that when you become stressed you are “flooded” with stress hormones that make it impossible to hear what’s being said. This is when most misunderstandings occur!

Be accountable for your part. This helps de-escalate any argument. By owning your mistakes, you’ll be setting a positive example for your kids and inviting your ex to do the same. See this as a chance to build integrity because it takes courage to admit when you’re wrong. When you can admit your part it usually softens the dialogue.

Practice detachment to remind yourself that what drove you nuts during the marriage is not your concern anymore. Let it go. Don’t try to get them to see things your way. Expect that what you disagreed about when married won’t change in the divorce. If your spouse was always late, expect that to continue when picking up the kids.

Detachment is similar to acceptance. Both are extremely helpful when going through a divorce. In order to reach acceptance, let yourself experience all of your emotions without judgment. There is no set time period. For longer marriages, it may take years to adjust.

Eventually, accepting the outcome means that you no longer need to change it. What we resist persists. Give yourself time to grieve. Let yourself be angry at the loss of the dream.

That’s why having the right support makes such a huge difference. Family and friends are great but unless they’ve experienced divorce, they likely won’t get it. Take the steps now to build a strong support system so healing extends to the entire family.

It is possible and it starts with you.

Michelle Farris is a licensed psychotherapist in San Jose. She specializes in anger management, codependency and relationship issues. If you’d like more information please visit my website www.counselingrecovery.com or you can reach me at (408) 800-5736 or mft@counselingrecovery.com

Click here to get her FREE Tips on Transforming Anger into Loving Connection

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Written by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation

Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation

Welcome to Ahluwalia Law, P.C., the home of Attorney Madan Ahluwalia. Madan has been practicing law since 1994, and has been managing his own firm serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1995. He is passionate about building long-lasting relationships with each client, which begins by offering affordable, efficient, and personalized services.