Not all break-ups are bad, some are actually quite civil and mutual. The same is true with divorces, but the tricky thing is that if you have kids, you can’t just walk away and cease having any further contact. In fact for the rest of your lives, you will have to stay in contact, and you have to do your best to keep things amicable for the sake of the children. The problem a lot of my divorce clients face is accepting that they have lost their ranking in the other person’s life, and that’s because it isn’t easy to shift down in a relationship, but it can be done. Here are 4 simple tips:
1. New Rules of Communication– One of the main reasons a relationship fails is because the couple failed to communicate effectively, and many developed some really bad habits in the end. Well, your new roles require new rules. Here are 4 simple ones: 1) no name calling; 2) no blame games– don’t re-hash the past, focus on the future; 3) take turns listening to each other’s concerns without interruption; and 4) no threats. If someone starts to violate these rules, you hang up or walk away. Eventually if the other person wants to be heard, s/he will learn to play by the new rules.
2. Learn to Enjoy the Quiet– Going from seeing someone every day to maybe just once a week is an adjustment– even if your interactions were unpleasant, overtime you’d gotten used to daily exchanges with another human being, and it is going to take some time to get used to days where there is pure, blissful silence. The sooner you come to enjoy your peace and quiet, the sooner you will find yourself at peace with your new situation.
3. Stop Engaging Every Day– There is no need to email, call or text your estranged spouse every day. In fact, the goal should be to only communicate when necessary about the kids. If you can get this down to once a week, that is fantastic. Even if the other person tries to engage you every day, you just need to set your limit and only respond once a week. If you stay the course, the other person should eventually learn to respect your new boundaries.
4. Find Something to Fill the Void– You are definitely going to miss having someone (especially your kids) in your daily life, and it may take a while before you find a new love interest, so find something to fill that void. Sign up for a class, join a gym, recruit friends to go out with you, or take up a hobby. There are tons of things to do to occupy your time, stimulate your brain, and get you engaged with others.
Eventually, things should calm down. It may take 1-2 years for everyone to get used to their new roles and living separate lives, but if you both stay the course and follow these tips, you should be fine. More importantly, your kids will have learned a valuable life lesson: some relationships just won’t work out, but it doesn’t have to be nasty in the end. You can disengage with dignity and grace– and while not easy, I believe where there is a will you find a way.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.