Barbara Rothberg, DSW, LCSW

Therapy, Coaching, Mediation and Parent Coordination

 
 
 
       

The Importance of an Amiable Divorce

W hat really are the benefits of  an amiable divorce?

 

In the best of circumstances, divorce is difficult. Actualy, it is right near the top of the stress scale, so talking about divorce being "amiable" is a bit strange. There's no question that divorce is really hard, but it can be accomplished with respect and compassion. When a couple gets divorced, there is generally considerable hurt and anger, so how can this be amiable? It can be if the couple decides to make it so! That depends on the attitude of the parties and the willingness to compromise and cooperate, especially when children are involved. Looking towards the future in a positive way enbales both parents to let go of anger.  

A positive and amiable divorce can be had when the partners are respectful to one another and acknowledge their differences.  But ex-partners also need to be able to let things go. Resilience is the key to happiness! If either spouse stays stuck on something the other did wrong (some old hurt) it will harm the process. Many details need to be negotiated and if children are involved, the process gets more senssitive and more complicated. We all have a choice of how to behave and if we can decide to go through the process in an amiable manner, the results will be much more amiable.

Here's a few thoughts that can be helpful:

First, what are the priorities?

The first priority for most couples with children is to develop a parenting plan that works for everyone with the best interests of the child at the center of the agreement. Sometimes, particularly when there is a lot of anger, it can be difficult to put that aside to negotiate a positive agreement. But it is very important tp try.

The next priority, is to be fair. A good amiable agreement is one that is fair and equitable for both parties. That means that one spouse doesn't "win" and the other "lose". Ideally, both feel that they have made good decisions that can work for everyone. A positive divorce is not about winning and losing, but about being fair and knowing that maintaining a relationship with one another partner for many years as a co-parent is the priority.

Then, manage your expectations:

It's helful to remember that you once really cared about the other person, and probably for a myriad of reasons things didn’t work out. But there is a history with positive memories that can be honored. Remembering this can be helpful during the divorce.

Next, don’t expect great communication during the process. People often complain to me that their partner is a terrible communicator. Remember, afterall, you’re getting divorced! If communication was all that good, maybe you wouldn’t be in this place.

Also, expect to feel upset and frustrated. That's a natural part of the process. It is not an easy one. But an amiable model is a lot easier than a litigative one.

 Think long term. Your kids are important to you, Do you each want to share the joys of graduations ? birthdays ? of possible weddings?  other shared events?  If you are able to work out the details in an amiable  way, and pick your battles, this can be possible. Or else, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartache.

Let's look at finances which are generally an issue. It’s a lot cheaper to have an amiable divorce where the spouses can make agreements without court. Mediation and collaborative law are two positive alternatives to a litigated divorce that can significantly save resources, both financial and emotional. A litigated divorce is very expensive and takes years. Do you want to spend money that way and feel stressed for years dealing with the details?

And lastly, let's remember the goal is moving on. If you can move on and allow your ex to move on, everyone will be happier. If either or both of you re-couple, you may be happier and  your children can have more people to love them. If you stay stuck in anger, then your life will feel stuck. Studies on happiness tell us that people who are more resilient and have learned to let go are happier people. So, how do you want to live your life?

 

 

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divorce, divorce coaching, parenting

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