For some couples, they know their divorce is going to get ugly. But that’s not everybody. For others, the breakup is a sad, grief-filled event filled with genuine loss and lots of good memories. If this is how you feel and if you are two people who simply aren’t meant to be married anymore but are trying to treat each other decently, here are 6 tips for achieving a great divorce:
1. Keep a healthy distance at first.
It’s normal for your emotions to go through different cycles, but you need to keep a safe distance from each other as you conduct the business of divorce. Set healthy boundaries that will help you develop a co-parenting partnership and see if over time, you become friends. But don’t jump into a friendship too soon.
2. Put agreements in writing.
No matter how friendly you are, it’s still important to get all agreements in writing so nobody forgets or decides to act out, especially when it comes to property division and parenting. For example, if you’re going to be the custodial parent and you’re okay with your ex visiting the children during non-visiting times, be sure to put this flexible arrangement in writing so there are no misunderstandings.
3. Don’t fall into old patterns.
A benefit of the divorce is you no longer need to be your ex’s sounding board. You are not obligated to listen to them complain about their work, family, insecurities, and new relationships. But it goes both ways. Resist the urge to seek comfort in your ex’s arms. You are both released so let it be and seek support elsewhere.
4. Embrace the transformation ahead.
If you have kids together, it’s okay to let your relationship transform into a strong parenting relationship, but it could take some time. Don’t be concerned if your spouse withdraws or remains silent in the beginning because he or she is having a hard time. If they are wisely building new boundaries to protect your relationship, this could make you feel lousy but it’s a smart way to move on to the next chapter in a healthy manner.
5. Plan family gatherings.
If this is practical, plan family gatherings where you all get together. This could mean heading to the park, going out to dinner, or seeing a movie. The idea is to show the kids that you still care about each other. Even though they’re going to want you to get back together, family outings can help them see that they have two parents who love them and despite the divorce, that’s never going to change.
6. Hold off on introducing new people.
If adultery was involved, you may not be able to take any of this advice because someone made a big mistake and someone feels bitter and deeply betrayed. If cheating is not a factor, but someone else becomes involved early on, do NOT introduce them to the kids for some time. It’s better to wait. Even if the kids are teenagers, it can still be very upsetting for them to meet mom or dad’s new boyfriend or girlfriend when emotions are still raw.