Respectful Divorce

Divorce is a process but how we choose to handle the process is up to us. My divorce journey taught me many valuable lessons. Respecting the process was the first lesson I had to learn, as well as understanding that no matter how I felt about my former spouse, I had to respect that he was dealing with his own divorce process too. When feelings of pain and suffering consume the heart civility can become quite challenging but if you take a moment to reflect on what kind of marriage you desire in comparison to the reality of what kind of marriage you are experiencing- you”ll realize that communication issues most likely started long before the marriage began.

If marriage restricts you from being your authentic self on a consistent basis, if your marriage consists of presenting a happy image narrative, and if reconciliation efforts were made to save the marriage- you must learn to move towards respectfully co-existing, especially if you have children. You may wonder…”Why should I respect someone who hurt or betrayed me?” If you seek peace in your life and divorce lead you to peace of mind, you”ll soon realize the greatest gift you will ever give yourself is respecting your truth. If you desire forgiveness-you must be able to forgive, especially if you are holding on to resentment as a result of divorce. There is a higher purpose than marriage and divorce, that purpose is learning to respect our various Lifelovemarriagedivorce journeys and all of the people who will be apart of the journey that awakens us the joy and peace we seek. I listed 8 respectful divorce rules that have assisted myself and others along their journey, maybe they can be of assistance to you as well.

1. If kids are apart of the union..control your personal feelings about what your ex did to you and make sure the kids are priority. Kids don’t want to choose between their parents, they simply want their parents to get along and be loved by both. You may not have married your soul mate but your greatest accomplishment are your kids, so respect one another for doing something right. And yes, your ex may be inconsistent in showing up, their parenting style may be different from your own but if the kids desire to spend time with that parent- it’s your job to make sure a healthy relationship is established because when your kids light up the moment they see their parent that’s all that matters. Your personal discord with your ex should never interfere with quality time spent with the kids, especially if the parent is a GOOD parent and wants to be apart of the child’s life.

2. If you are not the primary custodial parent understand that you don’t get to pick and choose when you want to show up and participate in your child’s life. If there is an agreed schedule make sure to honor it. The primary parent strongly dislikes seeing their child disappointed if you cancel last minute because “something” came up. Inconsistency and last minute no shows send a message that you aren’t prioritizing your time or child wisely. It also creates unnecessary discord between you and your ex when respect and civility is desperately needed as co-parents.

3. If your ex’s contribution to the family was working inside of the home( titles that include chauffeur, tutor, chef, mediator, house manager, caretaker, volunteer, nurse/doctor, coach, psychologist…) jobs that were performed without financial compensation and you worked outside of the home and received financial compensation…DO NOT demean or belittle your ex’s contribution to the martial union as a full time homemaker because you receive a check. DO NOT say…”you stay at home, you don’t work” because no one works harder than a stay at home parent. This job doesn’t have any off days; it’s physical, spiritual, intellectual, mental and emotional 24 hours a day. Divorce can bring out the worst insults due to hurt feelings so be sure to avoid this trap by respecting the contributions both parents make to the family.

4. The stay at home parent shouldn’t take the financial provider contributions for granted as they work hard to take care of the family’s financial needs. Sometimes those financial obligations include extended family members,  as well as being a responsible business owner with multiple employees depending on the business success. Taking care of everyones financial needs can become quite stressful. Comments like “you work too much”, “you are never here”, or “you love work more than you love your family” should be avoided. It may be true that some people prefer to work but for those parents who wish they didn’t have to miss a child’s concert or prioritizing time to take care of an elderly parent…don’t deserve insults because you have discord about the relationship ending. Learn to respectfully separate personal feelings from facts.

5. When the spousal/child support and division of property is discussed…Both parties need to be fair! Numbers don’t lie and both parties know exactly what finances are needed to run a household. It’s important that the financial provider doesn’t get amnesia and forget the monthly budget because you feel like you are no longer financially obligated to provide for your family because you are now divorced. The primary custodial parent doesn’t get to decide that clothes will no longer be washed and chef duties now cease because they are divorced. They must continue taking care of the kids just as you should continue providing financially. Be supportive and work out agreements that support the transition of the best financial plan for the family as well as supporting the spouse re-entering the work place after years of service at home. This takes time so work together because financial responsibility discussions can take a turn for the worst, especially if attorneys are involved as they are fighting for their client but the ex-spouses should avoid fighting and respectfully discuss request by insisting that attorneys do what is best for your kids interest.  Once the attorney’s retainer and hourly fees have been collected you will still remain in relationship with your ex because of your kids. Don’t allow ego and pride affect the ability to respectfully separate assets.

6. Emotional sensitivity must be demonstrated towards the kids when you begin a new relationship. Your new love interest doesn’t mean your kids are going to be as excited as you are about this person. It is true that kids are resilient but be mindful of the right time to make introductions. Don’t rush to introduce your new partner as it can be disrespectful and insensitive towards your kids, as well as your ex. You will have a lifetime relationship with your ex as graduations, weddings, and grand children will forever unite you, so use emotional sensitivity and caution regarding this matter. It doesn’t mean that you should avoid sharing your life with your kids, it means ask them how they feel about it and to let you know when they are ready to meet this new person. Kids want their parents to be happy but hasty introductions to multiple partners or someone who won’t be around for the long run can destroy the family dynamic, especially if you are being insensitive out of spite to hurt your ex. It’s simply not worth it. Time heals all wounds; as the family moves forward your ex- may inform you that he/she would like to introduce the kids to their new partner-receive this as sign of respect and communication. Respectfully discuss your concerns and make an attempt to meet the person who may be spending time with your kids; and make sure to apply these rules to yourself when meeting that special someone.

7. Both parties should keep extended family members and friends out of the divorce. Family/friends tend to give advice or opinions without knowledge of all the facts. When you and your ex get passed the “ I am in my feelings stage” to the “we are grown ups and our business is being good co-parents stage” Doing what’s best for your kids may not resonate with others. That’s why it’s best to avoid insults and accusations towards your ex. Some family members have trouble with forgiveness(which has more to do with their own unhappiness than your issues) Establish family boundaries, communicate and define that being a respectful divorced couple and great parents to your kids is a choice because they are your legacy. If Sunday family dinners or shared holidays work for you-It’s not up to family or friends to understand your process, it’s up to them to respect it.

8. Establishing healthy boundaries is sign of respect. Dropping by the house unannounced because you’re in the neighborhood isn’t respectful. Your visit must be accompanied with a courtesy phone call.  Don’t sweat the small stuff and avoid taking everything personally. This is a boundary that you can establish for your peace of mind. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from a counselor who said “feelings aren’t facts.” Focus on being your best self and as the emotional dust settles, you realize that life is too short to be unhappy. None of us get married with divorce on our mind but detours will occur along our Lifelovemarriagedivorce journey and sometimes those unions may end in divorce but choosing to be respectful lasts forever. At the end of the day God is watching how we love and respect all people, even our exes. Our purpose is much bigger than marriage and divorce, our purpose includes choosing to represent the spirit of Christ daily. It may not always be easy but with God all things are possible, even a respectful divorce.

Until The Next Blog,

Blessings & Love!