The Top Benefits of Remaining Civil During Your Divorce
It’s often hard to remain civil when you’re in the middle of divorce proceedings. Emotions run high. You may find yourself struggling to decide what to do next as you fight to rebuild your life. At the same time, remaining civil in spite of divorce proceedings can have a number of critical advantages. Instead of fighting with your former spouse, try to take the high road. Often, it can help create a better environment for you and your family–including your kids.
1. Remaining civil increases the odds that you will get what you deserve.
In many divorce cases, both spouses end up losing. Tales abound of bitter ex-spouses who take revenge on their former partners. Unfortunately, in most cases, these actions will result in losses for both of you. Destroying marital assets or working to break down your spouse can result in fewer assets for you to split during the divorce, which means that you may not have the assets you need on hand as you move forward with your life after divorce. Worse, you may end up sabotaging something that you would have been better off keeping.
2. Your words matter.
If you have kids, they may judge you in the future by the things that you say and do during your divorce. Regardless of your children’s relationship with their other parent now, you may discover that they have a strong relationship with that parent in the future–and you don’t want them to judge you based on things you said in anger in the midst of your divorce.
Even if you don’t have kids, the words you put out into the world matter. You may lose friends, loved ones, and even professional relationships as a result of your animosity toward your former spouse if you let that animosity go unchecked. Instead, practice civility when interacting with or talking about your former spouse. You may be surprised by how much it can improve others’ opinion of you.
3. Civility begets civility.
If you’re genuinely civil toward your spouse and working toward a resolution that is in both your best interest and theirs, you will find that your spouse is more likely to be agreeable, too. That doesn’t mean that you have to roll over and give your spouse everything they ask for, but it does mean that you work together toward the common goal of dividing your marital assets, your time with your children, and other important elements as civilly as possible.
4. You will later be glad that you remained civil.
In the middle of your divorce, your emotions may run incredibly high. You may have a hard time keeping things calm, especially if you and your spouse regularly start bickering, fussing, and fighting. In the moment, it may feel perfectly reasonable to let your spouse have it, to get in an argument, or to do something destructive.
Later, as you cool down and no longer have quite so much emotion invested in the relationship, you may feel guilty for those actions. Many people wind up regretting the steps they took in the heat of the moment in the middle of a divorce. Instead, try calming down first. Walk away from negative or emotionally charged situations and discussions. Take steps that are in your overall best interests, not just the ones that “feel good” in the moment. Over time, you’ll find that you’re grateful for the moments when you made calmer, more rational decisions.
Key Ways to Remain Civil During Your Divorce
Staying civil in the middle of the divorce can feel like a battle. You may feel like venting, losing your cool, or simply letting your ex have it, especially as you contend over concerns like custody of the kids, alimony, or division of important assets. Keeping your cool, however, may be easier than you think. Try some of these strategies to make it easier to stay calm even in the midst of challenging moments during your divorce.
1. Write it out.
Pull open a document on your computer and type out what you really want to say to your spouse. Avoid typing it in an email, especially one that you address, or a text message directly to your spouse. Instead, use a blank document to get out all of your feelings. Date it, then file it away for your own personal use. Later, you may find that you don’t feel nearly as strongly about many of the things contained in that message.
2. Vent to a friend.
If you have things you really want to say to your spouse’s face, try venting to a trusted friend. Avoid choosing a family member or friend who knows your spouse well and may want to maintain a relationship with them. Instead, choose someone you know will keep your secrets. You can either vent directly to your friend or place your friend in your spouse’s role and say all the things that you really want to say, but know you shouldn’t. Often, this simple strategy can help you clear the air and feel more confident and calm.
3. Reward yourself.
If you keep your cool during a discussion with your spouse, you’ll let yourself have something you want: a special treat for dessert, a meal you’ve been meaning to have, or an outing you’ve been putting off. Choose something that offers enough incentive that you will think it’s worthwhile, then imagine that reward to help you get through a difficult situation.
4. Conduct interactions with someone else present.
Often, you will say things to and in front of your former spouse that you might not want to say in front of someone else, especially someone you hold in high regard. If necessary, ask a friend to help you through some of those difficult conversations.