Peaceful divorce — sound like a paradox? In our society, even though more than half of our marriages will end in divorce, we still hold onto the idea that divorce is brutal, contentious and toxic. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In fact, divorce can be a transition time of self-reflection and intense personal growth. Everyone is better off when two adults behave well. If children are involved, positive co-parenting is essential for their well-being. And even if children aren’t involved, ending your marriage with a truce will lead to the priceless peace of mind that you will never find slinging it out in divorce court.
These six steps will set you free no matter what your soon to be ex is dishing out.
Own your part: Although this isn’t easy to do, you must shine the flashlight of attention on yourself and look at how you participated in creating the end of your marriage. Most of us feel very comfortable casting blame and judgment on our mate — “It’s all his fault.” Actually, it’s not. You both co-created your ending and the more you can claim responsibility for your participation, rather than seeing yourself as the victim, the better off you’ll be as you move forward in your life.
Let Go: You need to let go of the relationship as you knew it. This is true whether you initiated the divorce or not. Let yourself grieve, accepting the full range of your emotions. Try to reframe the divorce as an ending/transition and not as a failure. Some marriages are not meant to last until death do us part. Create a mindset of “let go” so you can clear the emotional space to move on.
Commit Yourself To Peace: Set an intention every single morning to commit yourself to peace. What does this look like? It means you don’t badmouth your ex; you don’t speak aggressively; you don’t send sarcastic/violent emails, texts, or phone messages. It means you don’t try to get your children to side with you or against your spouse. It means that you don’t hire a killer lawyer or talk about taking her to “the cleaners.” Reminding yourself daily that peace is the path you choose is a shortcut to inner peace.
Don’t Take The Bait: If your ex hasn’t committed to the peaceful path, then you’re likely to have plenty of opportunities to learn how to refuse the bait. If she insults you, don’t play the game of volleying back insults. When he tries to push your buttons, call a time out and excuse yourself. Don’t return nasty emails, texts, or phone messages with the same hostile tone. Understand that anyone full of such venom is actually poisoning themselves. Try to understand that their anger is an expression of their pain. Holding this insight, you just might be able to extend some compassion their way.
Set The Stage: The manner in which you end this marriage will influence how you move forward: Do you choose a life filled with bitterness and blame or one of empowerment and wisdom? Furthermore, the energy you produce now will likely determine how or whether you create a new loving relationship in your life. Only you hold the key to setting the stage now for a more peaceful, joyful future.
See The Big Picture: One day this divorce is going to be behind you… hard to believe but it will eventually be a distant memory. Seeing the big picture helps you gain perspective. It’s useful to realize that you will likely have a lifetime of being in your ex’s life (children growing up, graduations, weddings, funerals, grandchildren). Do you really want to be enemies through the rest of life’s events? While you may never actually be friends, you can still behave in a way that is friendly. Talk with people you know who have been divorced for some years. Their perspective may help you imagine your own larger picture.
Although divorce is never an easy process, it can be a relatively peaceful one. While you cannot control how your ex is behaving, you can choose how you respond and how you conduct your own behavior. Using these six steps will help you avoid war and create a climate of peace.
Published in HuffPost Divorce - 01/25/2012