If reconciliation is impossible and you (or your spouse) have made the difficult decision that the marriage is irreparable and divorce is the only option, you should mentally prepare yourself for a challenging emotional journey. It is a misconception that the hardest part of getting divorced is the decision to actually do it. In reality, the difficulty lies in maintaining control of your actions and conducting yourself in a respectful and dignified manner throughout the process.
In times of trouble, it is easy to set aside your control and act in ways that may be harmful to you, your spouse, your children, and your family. After all, you may say, “I have nothing left to lose.” On the contrary, inappropriate behavior can result in significant loss. Clearly, if you are in the process of a divorce, irreversible damage has already been done to your marriage, but sometimes the most significant breakdown in the relationship between you and your spouse occurs after the divorce is filed. Continue to be mindful that you cannot take back words or actions. No matter how great the effort, you cannot change a person’s perception of the marital situation, you can only control your own actions. Approach the problems, no matter how difficult, with a sense of respect and integrity.
If you and your spouse have children together, a lifelong relationship has been created, regardless of whether or not the marriage endures. The way you conduct yourself during this difficult time will lay the groundwork for future interactions with your former spouse regarding the children. Additionally, the way you conduct yourself now will have a direct impact on the divorce itself. Be mindful that there are going to be areas of disagreement throughout the entire process, but these disagreements do not need to turn into a “War of the Roses” scenario. Additionally, be mindful that your children are closely dialed in to your behavior as well as the behavior of your spouse. Utilize this opportunity to set a good example. Even if your spouse has violated this rule, do not lower yourself to that level.
Additionally, times of strife naturally lead us to turn to family and friends as a source of support, and a solid support group is an essential element to coping with the devastation of divorce. However, indiscriminately unloading your problems may not be in your best interest or the best interest of your family. Care must be taken when approaching others with intimate details of your relationship. Nothing is more certain to create added discord between you and your spouse than criticism and unfiltered discussions with a family member or friend who is less than discrete with the information.
Experience has revealed that indiscrete conversations can sometimes be harmful, hurtful, and even dangerous. Prior to exposing all of your concerns to another, ask yourself the following:
Respect your friends, family, spouse, and most importantly yourself, by using discretion before airing your marital dirty laundry. When angry, sad, frustrated, or outraged, it is natural that you want to vent. We often act without thinking. But by implementing certain rules of conduct for yourself, you may prevent behaving in a manner which you will later regret. By way of suggestion, the following rules should be considered:
General Rules of Conduct:
Approach the problems, no matter how difficult, with a sense of respect and integrity. In addition, consider enlisting the services of a good counselor, a pastor, priest, rabbi, and/or spiritual advisor whose confidential relationship will ensure you a safe haven for discussing your problems. Take advantage of community services which may offer free or reduced assistance to you. Join a support group to interact with other individuals going through a similar experience.
Going through a divorce is not easy. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it will. However, a final resolution will come. By surrounding yourself with a good support network and implementing some of the sensible suggestions and Rules of Conduct herein, you are equipping yourself with the necessary tools to avoid additional damage to the relationship.