You realize that the marriage is not working. For a long time now, you and your spouse have not been fulfilling each other’s needs. You’ve grown apart. Maybe one or the other of you has looked outside the marriage for a satisfaction of needs, which has led to deterioration of trust. Layers of blame and resentment have grown between you until neither of you can find a good thing to say about the other.
You have decided to divorce, but how to do so without causing more rancor? Life is full of changes and transitions, and ending a marriage is a very big transition. Choosing a process that can quiet the blaming and resentments of the past while helping to gently bring an end to a relationship that is no longer satisfying may be your goal.
Usually one or both of you will seek advice from an attorney. Your questions may focus on what are my rights? How do I protect myself from being taken advantage of, either being awarded too little or having to pay too much? How can I make sure my children will be okay? These are basic survival questions and often come from a place of fearing the unknown. By themselves these questions and their answers can lead you into an adversarial process where you and your spouse coming from your different perspectives and lack of trust are pitted against each other in a draining and ugly confrontational struggle.
Can these basic survival questions be framed in a way that does not set you on an adversarial course? My wholehearted answer to this question is a resounding YES! To do so means creating more space in your considerations. Your questions might be what needs, goals, interests and values are important to me as I plan for restructuring my life? What are those of my spouse, and how can our different perspectives be integrated into agreements that will work for both of us and our children? What information do we need to gather and share to make practical decisions? What does the law require us to do? What kind of professional help do we need to be fully informed about our options? What kind of help do we need to work out agreements in a calm and respectful way? What level of professional support do I, do we need to accomplish this restructuring of our lives without acrimony?
One of the hardest things about this transition process is being aware of but letting go of what I call “the water under the bridge factor”. This includes the accumulated hurts, misunderstandings, and perceived or actual betrayals that have occurred between you and your spouse. It does not mean that you are saying that what has happened is okay. You are simply acknowledging to yourself and to each other that allowing these factors to control you as you move forward to a new life separate from each other is not helpful and in fact gets in the way. This is where professional help in how you talk with each other is so helpful.
You are the authorities on your life and know better than anyone what is best for your family. Taking responsibility for the decision making in your transition is challenging, but with the right kind of assistance, you can do so. The result will be so much better than what any judge would order in your case. Integrative Mediation may provide the level of support you need to be successful. Check it out.
When there is an ending, there is also a beginning. A forward looking, non-adversarial process starts with acknowledging that there is a significant “water under the bridge factor” which has led to the deterioration of the relationship.