Going through a divorce, even when it’s amicable, can be confusing and stressful. While there’s no universal formula for getting through the experience unhurt, there are certain tactical errors that can aggravate your situation.
Here are five destructive behaviors (Divorce Don’ts) to avoid engaging in when getting a divorce.
DON’T: Attempt to Handle the Process on Your Own
It’s a well-known fact that divorce attorneys can be quite expensive. According to US statistics, the average rate of hiring such a professional is $250 dollars per hour. Therefore, because of financial worries and considerations, many people consider handling a divorce on their own — without consulting a legal professional. Such an approach may seem like a good idea, but the financial implications of divorce can be profound and long-lasting, so it’s best to work with professionals who can guide you through the process.
Additionally, a lawyer or a guided divorce solution can help you understand legal provisions and prevent you from signing something you may regret in the future. In addition, professionals can help you with the division of assets, making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to.
Families who have been married for a number of years could also experience serious financial struggles when divorcing. In such instances, a divorce attorney or service will provide a course of action that makes sense for both parties and can help you reach an out-of-court settlement.
DON’T: Refuse to Communicate with Your Former Spouse
Feelings of hurt and abandonment may make you want to avoid your former spouse. However normal it may be to have such feelings, avoidance can lead to awkward and troublesome situations.
If you have to, communicate in a written form in the very beginning. Let your ex know how you feel and be honest about the emotions you’re dealing with. As your initial feelings subside, it may become easier to meet face-to-face about divorce-related discussions.
This is especially true for couples who have children. It’s important to set a good example for young people and to show them it’s possible to be civil even after a relationship ends. It’s not healthy for kids to feel pressured to choose a side, thus family communication should be an integral part of the divorce. Communication is the heart and soul of moving forward, even if doing so seems impossible.
DON’T: Insist Stubbornly on Your Lack of Guilt
Placing blame during divorce is another incredibly natural — yet highly destructive — behavior.
Few people are prepared to accept responsibility for their own actions, especially if these actions have led to a negative outcome. Blaming somebody else is much easier. In a sense, this is a self-preservation mechanism that often has a negative outcome.
It takes two people to build a relationship and it also takes two people to end it.
When you accept that both you and your spouse share responsibility for the marriage and for the divorce, you may find it easier to communicate with your ex.
A divorce doesn’t have to be a battlefield and your ex isn’t a reincarnation of the devil. Let’s face it — both of you probably screwed up at times. By not accepting your role in the relationship and instead playing the blame game, the divorce can become even more difficult, and you may continue suffering in the aftermath of the legal separation.
In addition, attempting to learn from mistakes you both may have made can help you build a healthy relationship with a new partner in the future. If you have to, see a professional like a therapist for this purpose. You may find things become much clearer with a neutral outsider’s perspective.
DON’T: Use Your Children as Negotiation Pawns
Using kids as pawns during a divorce is cruel and unjustified. Even if you’re doing it unintentionally, it’s still not a good idea. When interacting with your co-parent or speaking of them, think about what you’re going to say before saying it. If you’re at risk of having an emotional outburst, it’s best to take five and bite your tongue.
Other behaviors — such as belittling your ex, speaking badly of them, and putting all the blame on the other party — are just as unhealthy. These actions will either alienate the kids from you or alienate them from your ex, and this is not helpful for growing individuals who need two supportive parents. Remember you’re still a parent, even when you’re hurting.
To help kids adjust during the divorce, you will have to do a number of important things:
- Be honest and open about what happened
- Inquire about their feelings and let them express themselves
- Explain the divorce in a simple way that makes sense for the age of each child
- Reassure the kids that their emotions are valid and that the divorce isn’t their fault
- Show respect for your ex (because any other type of behavior is going to be hurtful)
That last suggestion is incredibly important. Even if you’re mad at your ex, remember they’re still the mother or father of your kids.
DON’T: Start a Rebound Relationship
A rebound relationship may do miracles for your self-confidence. But right after a divorce, you may not be in a healthy enough place to embark on such an adventure. Dating is usually the last thing you need to think about while attempting to work through the complicated financial and emotional implications of divorce.
Remember that you have a history with your ex. You’re likely pretty vulnerable, which means your judgment may be hindered — at a time when it’s crucial to make smart decisions about dating. Additionally, you could ruin the prospect of something good developing with a great person.
Take some time to heal on your own. So many people begin rebound relationships because they’re afraid of being alone. Such a prospect may seem scary initially but you likely have some soul-searching to do. You could render yourself less equipped to handle the process if you opt for a spousal replacement right away.
A relationship outside the marriage could also complicate legal decisions during the finalization of your divorce. It’s best to get your separation finalized, handle all pertinent legal processes, and then get a fresh start. This way, you can start working on your future happiness without being burdened by anything.
Whatever decisions you need to make during your divorce, communication — and being thoughtful in your process — will both be paramount to your future happiness. For the best outcome possible, it’s best not to allow emotions and impulses to control your decisions and don’t rationalize decisions you’ve made out of anger for your ex.
Editor’s Note: This post was submitted to Wevorce anonymously. If you would like to read more on this topic, please visit the Co-Parenting category on our blog.