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There’s nothing easy or fun about getting a divorce. It’s painful, difficult, and often very complicated. So much so that it can be hard to know just what to do when getting a divorce.
Divorce is generally fraught with strong emotions – feelings of anger, sadness, betrayal, and failure can all be swirling around in your head. All these feelings can also make it extremely difficult to see your way forward. So, want to know the biggest thing you need to do when getting a divorce? Keep your end goal in mind.
What To Consider When Getting A Divorce
When divorcing most couples focus on the here and now. They want out and are ready for the marriage to be over. But divorcing has as much more to do with the future than it does the present.
The best advice I can give on what to do when getting a divorce is to make decisions as you go that will make your life after divorce the best it possibly can be. What not to do when divorcing is to ignore thinking about your post-divorce life until you get there.
The biggest mistake couples most often make is allowing emotions to take over and lead them to focus just on getting the divorce over with and not life after divorce. Too often couples think “once this is done, I’m free” and consider nothing other than cutting ties with their spouse as quickly as possible. Not only is that focus off base, it’s also a false target.
In nearly all divorces couples will end up having a relationship post-divorce. There are many reasons -- kids, support payments, joint financial commitments, etc. One of the biggest fallacies of divorce is that divorce means the person is out of your life, it doesn’t.
Divorce doesn’t typically end the relationship - it usually just changes it.
This means going through a divorce effectively will require you and your soon-to-be ex to prepare and lay the foundation for the new form your relationship will take in the future.
Easy? No, not at all. But not impossible either if you do things right.
How To Prepare For Post-Divorce Life While Getting A Divorce
So, if that's really what to do when getting a divorce, just how do you go about doing it?
In my years of counseling couples going through a divorce or already divorced I've learned two things that can help make a painful process easier and lead to a more amicable outcome. Both of which are very important considerations, especially if there are children involved.
Two of those things are as follows:
1) Use Lawyers Minimally And Appropriately. Understandably, you'll need some legal guidance. However, this doesn't mean you have to retain an attorney and turn the divorce process over to them.
One reason it's a mistake to turn your divorce over to an attorney is because attorneys aren't trained to manage relationships. As a result, attorneys can often make your relationship with your ex worse, which doesn't help you have the best life after divorce.
Remember, in all likelihood you'll still have a relationship with your ex when the divorce is finalized, even if you don’t want one. Managing the divorce process with the appropriate psychological support is crucial to developing that new relationship and keeping it at least civil and productive.
You wouldn’t ask your vet about child psychology, so don’t rely on your lawyer to assist with the emotional rollercoaster that comes with divorce, or how to build a new working relationship with your ex.
Here's a comment from a Guy Stuff client going through a Collaborative Divorce:
I was super clear with the both of them (her and his attorneys) why I don't want to deal with him (her ex). I think they understood, but only to a certain point. They didn't live with the guy and for the most part this is just a business transaction to them. To me, of course, it is so much more than that."
The best thing to do is only involve attorneys in legal matters and deal with the communication and relationship issues separately. Use divorce counseling to manage and resolve all of the non-legal matters like kids, how to manage communication, and any other family issues that are common in a divorce.
Okay, so what’s the second suggestion? We'll look at suggestion #2 regarding what to do when getting a divorce in the next post -- What To Do When Getting Divorced.
In the meantime, give some thought to your life after divorce and what it might look like. No, not the newly found freedom and the relief at being done with your spouse, but rather how each day could look and how your ex will need to fit into those days.
To help you get a sense of your future take a look at the popular posts on divorce below. You can learn a lot of what not to do when getting a divorce from the stories of others on the Guy Stuff Counseling blog and website.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 21, 2012 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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- What To Do When Getting Divorced (Part 2)
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