When we imagine a successful person, we think about someone with a great career, lots of hobbies, and a happy family. But we often see divorce as a failure. What if it can be a success, too? Look at it from a different perspective: you and your already-almost-ex are two mature people who can admit that no matter how hard they tried they can’t be together. You are strong enough to see it, to accept it and to fix it. Sounds far from a failure, doesn’t it? So you’ve admitted it - your marriage doesn’t work. You talked to your partner, and now you are trying to figure out what to do. Of course, making a decision about divorce isn’t easy. And it’s even harder to implement this decision. With our keys to a successful divorce, you will be able to go through this staying strong and powerful.
Key 1: Make Sure You Did Everything Possible
Before breaking up for good, you need to make sure that you did everything you possibly could to save your marriage. Regrets will be your worst enemy if you make the final step knowing that there was still hope to save the relationship. So do it now, before it’s too late: talk to your partner, try to rebuild your relationship and repair your communication, set an appointment with a family counselor, talk to your priest. Do whatever you think is appropriate and helpful. And if this doesn’t work, then admit that this is the final and start the process of divorce.
Remember, never threaten divorce before you really mean it. You make say it just to make your partner angry, but it will do more harm than good. The divorce conversation should start not as a way to draw attention or evoke some emotions; it’s a decision that will affect many lives.
Key 2: Do the Inventory
When approaching a serious project, you need to go through a checklist and understand many things. Divorce is not an exception. So make sure you know the answers to the following questions:
1. What do I want?
“I want to divorce, isn’t that clear?”, you may say. But this is too abstract. What kind of relationship do you want to build with your ex after? How do you want to share custody? Where do you want to live? What do you want to do? There are so many questions you need to ask yourself. Because divorce will change almost everything in your life. Make sure you know where you’re going before you start.
2. What do I need to get what I want?
Now when you know what you want, you can start figuring out the way to get it. Hire an attorney for legal advice. Call your friends and family to get support if you can’t think rationally and feel absolutely devastated. Check your finances and learn how to manage your own budget. If you have kids, look at what they need now, too. If you understand that you lack knowledge about some areas of life, find a way to learn it.
3. What do you have now?
The previous question is hard to answer without this one. It’s time to examine what cards you actually have in hand. Is your salary enough to start living on your own? Can you try to ask for a raise? Or do you have enough skills to look for a better job? How much does your apartment or house cost? How much are your weekly expenses? Do you have enough knowledge about taxes you need to pay? The more detailed information you have about your life, the better prepared you will be.
4. Is it possible to get what you want?
The next step would be to make sure that you can get what you want and need. Reality sometimes changes our plans a little. You need to know how a divorce usually works where you live, what the laws are. Don’t expect to get everything you want and leave your ex-spouse with nothing. Be realistic and understand that your salary may not be enough to pay the mortgage for the house. Or your ex is not the one to buy you a Ferrari. Reasonable expectations lead to more success.
5. What are you willing to give?
Another part of looking at the real situation is understanding that there are some things you will have to give up on going through a divorce easier. So maybe you would let your ex-husband have the kids for one more evening every week, but instead, get a little bigger alimony? Or your ex-wife can get the car on the condition you keep your collection of stamps? It’s all about negotiation because you need to make concessions.
Key 3: Consider the Legal Side of the Process
Remember, your willingness to compromise will bring more benefits to a long-term perspective. You should focus more on building your new life than on keeping pieces of your old one in your hands. Thus, try to make your divorce as amicable as possible. Because this is one of the main keys to a successful divorce. This will save you time, money, and nerves. Moreover, you can use an online divorce to ease the process.
Key 4: Be Responsible for Yourself
It’s such a tempting thing to play a victim and blame your ex in all the sins, being sorry for yourself. Of course, there are situations when this pity seems to be more than appropriate. You could be cheated on, your partner could take advantage of you or lie to you. It could be totally their idea to get divorced. But you have to admit that a relationship is never built by only one person. So there is a part of your responsibility in this too. So it’s up to you to decide: you either drown in resentment and self-pity or you learn on your own mistakes as well and rebuild your life all over.
It is not much you can control and predict in your life right now. There are lots of things you simply can’t influence. For example, the work of the court or the way your ex behaves towards you and the children. And there is no way you can do anything about it. Let your partner act the way they think is better for them. You are splitting your ways so let them go.
By playing a victim, you take away the only thing that you can really control. And this is you. You can control your actions and the way you approach your divorce to get what you want. However, don’t be too strict with yourself. Taking responsibility for yourself also meant accepting your human nature and everything that goes with it. You may get angry and do stupid things, you may act irrationally or do something wrong. Everybody does it. But stick to your goal and try to be a good example of a mature person dealing with difficulties. Keep your goals in mind and do what needs to be done to become a better post-divorce version of yourself.
Key 5: Focus on Yourself
Divorce is not the simplest period of a person’s life. It brings a lot of difficult emotions and pain. It makes us adapt to great changes one can never be ready to. It doesn’t matter if you were the one initiating the divorce or your ex-spouse came to you with the news. It takes time and self-work to deal with the loss and move on.
There are different emotional issues that people have after divorce:
- Low self-esteem because the partner rejected you or replaced you with someone else; or if you’re the initiator because you still can consider divorce as a failure.
- Anger and resentment that prevent you from moving on and building a new life.
- The feeling of emptiness and anxiety when thinking about the future.
- The sense of trust can be disrupted, and it’s hard to imagine having a relationship in the future at all.
The list goes on.
Remember, all of these emotions are absolutely natural and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Treat yourself with care and attention, give some time to deal with pain and loss. This sometimes requires outside help. Find a counselor or a psychologist to talk to them. They will be helpful as they won’t take sides and help you go through everything you are experiencing and accept the situation and yourself. And this is exactly what you need right now.
Also, get yourself a support team. Your parents and family, friends and colleagues - you need people who can support you. Think of a list of those who could help you in different situations. And what’s even more important, those you can share your real emotions and feelings without any shame. Maybe your mom could help you with the kids for a while? Or a neighbor could drive you to work while you are looking for a car? Or a friend could do something for you? You don’t have to go through a divorce alone. All you need to do is ask for help.
If there is something else you can do for yourself to make the adaptation smoother, do it. Now, when your life is already changing, it’s easier than ever to go to that yoga classes that you’ve always wanted, to get a pet you’ve been dreaming about. However strange it is, if it makes you feel better - do it.
Your emotional balance in the most important thing. And your emotions highly depend on what you say to yourself. So making the adaptation easier to avoid self-blame. It’s not only you who was building the relationship and you are not the one to blame for destroying it. Take time to realize what you did wrong and admit that your ex made some mistakes too. It will help you build a healthier relationship in the future.
Key 6: Help the Kids
You are not the only one affected by the situation. Your children are suffering from it too. However surprising it may seem to you, but sometimes it’s better for your children if you divorce. Seeing you and your spouse fighting all the time will affect them negatively and they will be better off if you calmly talk to them and explain why mom and dad can’t live together anymore. It’s too much of a burden for their little shoulders to know that the parents stay together just because of them.
You need to let them know that no matter what happens in your partnership, you are still their parents and love them anyway. And repeat that a lot of times, if needed. It will not be easy so you need to act as a team. Unite your parental effort and work on the answers you both give. Children, of course will be scared and anxious. Make sure that the explanations you give them about the situation are non-contradictory and the key messages you give are the same. This requires great maturity from you and your ex-partner but it’s probably one of the most important conversations you can ever have with your children.
The kids will appreciate being talked to openly and honestly. And what they will appreciate even more is being included and given an opportunity to help. You can let them look at a house you are moving to before you make the final decision. Or pick a sofa for the living room there. This will give the children the feeling of being in control while their entire world (which a family actually is for a child) is falling apart. Let them feel that their needs and wishes are heard and their opinions are important.
You shouldn’t get them too involved with your emotional state and what is going on between you and your ex. Children are not the people you should discuss it with. Even if there is a conflict and you are terribly hurt, parents should be a team for the children. So don’t complain about your husband or wife in front of the kids. Leave that for your therapist. Consider anything you want to do or say from the perspective of whether it’s a better or worse decision for the kids. One of the worst things you can do to them is to make them choose between parents. They love both mom and dad and it’s impossible for them to pick who they love more. Try to do your best to make sure you are both available and stay in touch with the children. Especially for holidays and special occasions.
Also, the period of parents getting divorced itself is stressful enough for children. And it requires a lot of adaptation. You and your partner have to do a lot of work in this area too. As now you don’t share the same house and don’t spend time together, you need to know what schedule of custody fits you and make sure that children are comfortable in both homes. They shouldn’t live on suitcases so buy an extra set of all the essentials and find the optimal time to spend with them for each of the parents. For some families, it’s week after week, for others - it’s every other day. And if the kids are old enough to decide for themselves, ask what they find more comfortable.
Key 7: See the Bigger Picture
Divorce sucks, there is no doubt about that. And right now, when the emotions are overwhelming, you might think it will be like this forever. But cliche it sounds, it will all change. Your pain will be gone and all the bitter moments will be over, eventually. And if you keep this thought in mind, it will be much easier for you to deal with all the hardship now.
Your sense of humor can be really helpful. You can’t win the divorce. So there is no point in keeping a score or confront who failed the marriage more. The past is in the past and if there were some problems in the family, consider that divorce is the way to fix them, so you can forget about everything and move on. Because actually, your ex is not your enemy; they are a person who is undergoing the same situation as you are.
The decisions you make now will influence your life for many years in the future. Don’t let your emotions outweigh your maturity and rational thinking. The vision you have should be for five years from now. It should include what is important - your children and the future you want to build.
Key 8: Adjust Your Social Circle
When you are a family member, communication with friends is easy. But when you are divorcing, this may create some tension with some of them. Don’t make anyone choose sides.
Knowing that you are dealing with separation in a mature way keeping a neutral relationship with your ex will let your friends feel more comfortable. Ideally, you shouldn’t bring up this topic at all if the friend is also a friend of your ex. And of course, in this case, you should avoid speaking badly about your former partner. It can create a distance that separates you from the people you might receive support from. Sometimes losing a spouse also means losing some friends. However sad it is, you have to admit that some relationships can end, and it’s totally normal (and this applies not only to romantic ones). Being realistic in this case will help you deal with falling out easier. You need to find a community of friends and acquaintances that will be only yours now. It will take time, but eventually, your people will stay with you.
Key 9: Don’t Rush into New Relationship
It may seem like a good idea to ?start a new relationship to get distracted from the emotional pain and difficulties of your divorce. But don’t let that thought tempt you too much. You are vulnerable now and there is quite a big chance of getting into an unhealthy relationship you don’t really want. Using another person as a painkiller doesn’t seem to be a good reason to start a relationship. You need a while to get used to the thoughts that you are back to the game. Make sure you are ready for something new and understand what you are really looking for.
Key 10: Learn Your Lesson
There are two possible ways of looking at negative events in our lives. The first one is to ask yourself “Why is this happening to me?” and see any bad situation as a punishment. This is the position of a victim and it is hardly ever beneficial for a person. But there is a different approach: seeing your experience as a lesson and asking ‘What for?’ you got it. Use this one with your divorce. Analyze the things you did which possibly led to the breakup and find new ways of behaving. Make a list of things you are looking for in your possible future relationship and things you will never tolerate in your partner. This will serve two purposes: help you make peace with your past and see the future prospects better.
Consider divorce not as an end or a beginning, but as another great experience on the long and interesting road of your life. And as any experience makes a person better, it will definitely bring you to success.