Your marriage wasn’t without its conflicts, or you wouldn’t be seeking a divorce — so how can you possibly hope to have a peaceful divorce?
First, take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only person who has faced this conundrum. Even though divorce rates have been falling, 20% of new marriages can expect to end within five years — and roughly 48% of couples won’t ever celebrate their 20th anniversary together. Here are the ways that psychologists say those couples — and you — can keep things civil:
1. Recognize that this is for the best.
The constant stress of an unhappy marriage isn’t good for anybody. You and your spouse will both likely benefit emotionally from moving on. Even your children are likely to adjust to the new situation within a year or two (while children stuck in households where the parents are in constant conflict are likely to experience far more emotional issues).
2. Find common ground with your spouse.
The odds are high that you and your spouse do agree on a few things. Maybe you both just want the fighting to be over, or maybe you’re both very concerned about how the children will take the news. Whatever common ground you have, use it as a starting point to work together.
3. Practice a little more self-care.
Self-care means a lot of different things to different people, but when a divorce is happening you may need to take some extra time for yourself. Invest in a therapist to work through your emotions; take a class so that you can find something positive to focus on; get yourself into a new routine.
4. Think of divorce as a business negotiation, not a battle.
By the time you’ve decided to divorce, there’s no reason to rehash everything that went wrong in the marriage. Focus on the business aspects of the split and recognize that a collaborative divorce or mediation can help you both retain far more control over your futures than a litigated one.