Each year, around 750,000 couples divorce, and many others go through separations of one kind or another. Separating or divorcing is a profoundly stressful experience for spouses, kids, extended family, and even friends. Popular media certainly paints it as a situation filled with bitterness.
Yet, many couples would prefer a less acrimonious situation as they go through the process of separating their lives. Just as importantly, separating amicably is an entirely feasible possibility. Separating without the stress will not necessarily prove easy, but can benefit everyone involved in the long term.
So, what steps can you take that will help ensure an amicable separation.
Commit to Civility
Getting divorced can prompt hard feelings on all sides, especially when it comes to dividing property and custody. If you really want an amicable separation, both sides must commit to civility.
That means you respond to communication in a timely manner and instruct your lawyers to do the same. It also means making an effort not to badmouth the other person.
Fighting things out in court is a great way to pay your lawyers a lot of money, but it’s a terrible way to achieve an amicable divorce. Court proceedings can take forever to schedule and drag on and on.
Before pulling the trigger on a court battle, seek out mediation to help you resolve sticky conflicts. Mediators don’t have an emotional stake, so it reassures everyone that their compromises are likely fair.
Don’t Make Your Kids Pawns
Your kids get no say in the divorce but must deal with the fallout from it regardless. That’s more than enough stress all by itself.
As far as possible, agree that you’ll both keep the kids out of any arguments. Also, don’t make your kids go-betweens or messengers.
No matter the circumstances, separation and divorce can take a huge emotional toll on everyone involved. Consider counseling for yourself and your kids.
Counseling can help you process your own grief over the end of the relationship. It can also help the kids understand that they bear no responsibility for the end of the parental relationship.
Even an amicable divorce takes time. There are logistics that you must work out, such as who handles picking up the kids, or even where everyone will live.
While that period of waiting can feel endless, remain patient. It’ll reduce your stress and the stress level of everyone around you.
Separating Without the Stress Takes Work
Separating without the stress doesn’t happen by accident. You must work at it.
That means making commitments at the outset that you’ll remain civil with the other person and, if it applies, not making the kids into pawns. Mediation can make the process less stressful by bringing in a neutral party who’s only responsible for finding compromises. Counseling and patience can also go a long way toward keeping things amicable.
Know someone going through a divorce or separation right now? Check out our Best Wishes section for ideas to help cheer them up.