Cognition, Divorce 360

Moving Past Anger in Divorce

Getting divorced is not a license to hate, nor a free pass to let loose your lowest impulses, or give in to your darkest, angriest or even most self-critical thoughts.

When I suggest this idea to people, most agree.  Sure, they were angry for a while. But now they view their divorce as a sad reality, and are turning their focus toward recreating a life they love, not stewing in anger at the wrongs of their once-spouse.

But not everyone. Some people are so steeped in anger that they do not want to let it go. Such was the case of the tall, striking woman I met at a party on Friday. “I just have a different idea of marriage,” she said. “It’s for life. It can be hard, but you still work at it. My parents have been married for 50 years. I just have a different idea of marriage than most.”

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Law & Money

Destination Divorce

New legal processes make it easier than ever to divorce and keep your relationship and your equanimity intact. Mediation and collaborative council are two increasingly popular legal options. State and private websites, as well as staffed self-help centers at courthouses around the nation, make it easier than ever to do a D-I-Y divorce. 

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Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Barbeque At Home
Communication, Getting Along Better, Post-Divorce

Can You Be Friends After Divorce?

Many people assume that since hate is the opposite of love, discord must be the opposite of marriage. But our feelings aren’t wired on an on/off switch. I’ve met plenty of former couples who get along far better now that they’re no longer married.

This truth can discomfit well-meaning friends or family who expect your divorce to be an emotional severing as clear as the terms of your legal split. As a father of two in San Diego said, some friends continued to insist that he “hadn’t moved on” 10 years after separation because he wasn’t fuming with rancor at his once-wife.

While everyone knows that marriages evolves over time, we don’t always realize that divorce continues to change, too—and for the better. Old resentments don’t have to carry over like frequent flier miles from your former fights. Many people craft positive, more peaceful relationships with a former spouse.

Here are four good reasons that your relationship might improve, post-marriage: 

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Law & Money

Making It Legal Can Improve Your Post-Marriage Relationship

Early on in our separation, I met a man who told me that when he and his wife decided to divorce, they assumed the first step was to choose who kept what. As they dove into the gut-wrenching process of divvying up assets, their longstanding parenting disagreements grew. His parents encouraged him to “lawyer up.”

With two lawyers involved, the fighting escalated. As the months turned into a year, he and his wife reached a surprising conclusion: they had more in common regarding their sons than they realized. The process of working with adversarial-minded lawyers had obscured their shared values.

Do divorce lawyers egg on fighting spouses, dragging out negotiations for personal profit? Perhaps some do. But it’s easy to fault the lawyers in the free-flowing blame game that divorce can become, especially when you rush to file. Hurrying to make it legal when you feel vulnerable, angry and scared can make you susceptible to divisive, petty, suspicious input.

I was surprised to learn that some of the most exciting improvements in divorce are coming from the legal professionals, people dedicated to creating new processes that actually can improve a relationship on the other side of marriage. When you slow down, rather than rushing to hire the first lawyer whose name you receive, you can choose the legal approach that is best for you. Here are two of the most innovative ways to make it legal:

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We need to change how we talk about divorce
Communication, Divorce 360

We Need to Change How We Talk about Divorce

When we started discussing divorce, I looked it up online. The second entry on Google? “History’s most expensive divorces!” Scintillating, yes. Typical? No. Nor necessary. The six-figure divorce is not only a waste of time and money, but also pretty rare. High-cost divorces generally come from repeated court battles, but less than 10-percent of divorces actually go to court. Most people manage to reach agreement without sapping their savings. But if you start talking about divorce, chances are, someone will tell you an awful tale of going broke.

Or they’ll cite a study about divorce’s harm on children that they just read. Or skimmed, rather. Or actually, they never saw the study but glanced at an article summarizing a study that, upon closer inspection, isn’t even about divorce. Articles and reports bemoaning today’s changing family often conflate stats on social problems, such as the poverty of unwed mothers, with divorce. Unwed mothers are among the poorest people in our society, in part because more than half of unwed mothers are adolescents. A tenth grader struggling to raise a baby alone tells us nothing about the future of two professionals in their forties, say, who decide to divorce. But when you read an article decrying the poverty of children raised by “single mothers,” you’ve just been hoodwinked into thinking it does.

Who suffers from these Big Bad Divorce Myths? Those who divorce and spend years overwhelmed by anger and grief. Those who feel helpless as they watch their once-loving marriage devolve into bitterness. The kids. The families. The friends.

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