Talk to anyone who’s been through a divorce and they’ll tell you there were some moments of drama. And there’s a lot of people out there who have played major roles in divorces with high drama. I’ve been through hundreds of divorces and have seen drama from 0 to 100 (and the funny thing is, I’ve been married one time, for over 30 years). Being a divorce attorney has brought great life lessons about how to do it “right” for you and your children… and how not to do it.
Drama in a divorce serves little to no purpose. It puts you and your children on the fast track to insanity. We live in a drama-rich culture. With instant access to the “real lives” of everyone, from reality TV to Facebook to Instagram, to SnapChat to instant messaging to Twitter, you simply can’t get away from information and drama overload.
In a divorce, our cultures support negative drama. Our culture isn’t interested in healthy ways to successfully unwinding a marriage while keeping each spouse and their children well and intact. Here are four of the top ways you can get through divorce in the most healthy way possible. Use these intentionally and consistently, and you’ll come out ahead!
1. Adopt A “No Drama” Policy At The Beginning Of Your Divorce.
This is all about deciding that you are not going to respond to, generate or participate in any kind of drama with anyone involved in your life during the divorce process. What does this look like? This means you make the following conscious choices (feel free to repeat these to yourself every morning over a cup of coffee . . . ):
- I will not gossip to my friends about how “unfair” or “nasty” my spouse is. I will not complain to anyone but my therapist and attorney about the behavior of my spouse throughout the divorce process.
- I will not talk to my children about the other parent in any judgmental or disparaging way. Instead, my only comments about my kids’ other parent will be that their parent loves them.
- I will point out the good attributes of my former spouse to my children, and I’ll support my children acting lovingly and respectfully toward their other parent.
- I will not spend time with my attorney bending her or his ear about immature conversations, bickering or other non-productive information about my spouse.
- I choose to not play small – so I will not post complaints or any other comments about my former spouse on Facebook or other social media.
- I will acknowledge my frustrations and complaints to a therapist who helps me turn my negative thoughts into productive behaviors that propel me toward success in life.
2. Adopt A “No-Drama” Policy for Every Communication You Have With Your Ex‑Spouse.
This may seem counter-intuitive. There’s a saying that holds true: “The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.” That may seem like a funny phrase in the context of a drama-free divorce but hear me out. As a leader in my business community, as an elected official, a leader in my home and non-profit organizations, I’ve found this phrase to be so true. When you model positive behavior, people follow. If your speed is slow, critical or nasty, that speed will be reflected in the “gang” of people around you, including your ex.
If you’ve got kids, use the latest parent communication apps to navigate this issue if you and your spouse have difficulties playing nice. Some examples are the Co-Parenter app (coparenter.com) and Talking Parents (talkingparents.com) These apps help you talk civilly about your kids’ schedules, pickup and drop-off times, and offer other cool tools that keep the drama out of the discourse.
When it comes to talking about the other “tough stuff” (finances, child support, spousal support, how to divide up the assets and the debts, selling houses, buyout of businesses, etc.) you’ll need the top professionals for that. Which leads me to your next important way to avoid the drama…
3. Agree to Meet and Confer with the Help of Your Lawyers and Stay Out of Court!
Nothing fosters drama and anxiety in a divorce more than having to go to court. The idea that you and your ex will be standing before a judge, a bailiff and a courtroom full of strangers talking about your kids, your finances and airing all your “dirty laundry” is enough to send anyone running for a bottle of Valium.
Decide, in advance, that you’re NOT going to go the “ugly” route. Instead, lean on your attorneys to help you meet with the other side, face to face and work out agreements on the issues. If you don’t have a good negotiator attorney who can establish good rapport with the other side, then get an attorney with the chops to do that. Attorneys aren’t just court warriors. Great divorce attorneys will have mediation experience or heavy settlement experience and be able to forge a path forward. Settlement negotiation will help you and your family get things resolved in private and quickly (of course, as long as the other spouse will cooperate).
4. Take Care of YOU During the Divorce.
Taking care of yourself through the divorce process is key to avoiding the stress and drama of the process. In every case one of the first things we recommend to divorcing people is to get into a great counselor or therapist…and go regularly! Why? Because just like a broken leg impairs your mobility, broken thinking patterns impair your ability to move through the divorce process productively.
Therapy and counseling used to have such negative associations back in the 1950’s through the 1970’s… that weird shame association is, for the most part, eradicated in our culture. But it’s still a greatly underutilized tool! Go, and go often. Find someone who you feel comfortable with (it may take a few “dates”) and check-in frequently. You’ll benefit from a positive sounding board, to help you navigate all of the big life changes that divorce brings. Oh, and did I mention? It’s a great way to help your children.
No one teaches us how to parent through divorce, but a great therapist can give you tools for helping your kids and keeping them safe and secure in their own thinking through the process.
Finally – if you’re finding yourself turning to alcohol, prescription meds or other substances with greater frequency during the divorce process, take a beat and seriously contemplate why that is…are you finding “relief” and “relaxation” through a nightly round of drinks? If so, talk to your doctor and that wonderful therapist you’ve found. Seek that relief through other sources like exercise, time out with positive friends, church, yoga or meditation. All those help!
So here’s your wrap-up for the drama-free divorce in a handy checklist. Commit this week to implement these four steps and watch the transformation start to happen. Keep at it and keep going – there is a beautiful life waiting for you in spite of divorce. And if you need a great attorney/counselor-at-law…well you know where to find us.
This week I am committed to:
____ 1. Adopt a “no drama” policy in my divorce.
____ 2. Adopt a “no-drama” policy for every communication I have with my Ex.
____ 3. Start to meet and confer with my Ex & my lawyer to settle out of court.
____ 4. Take great care of myself during this divorce.