Last week, I wrote about the benefits of making a personal commitment to treating your spouse well, even if your marriage ends. Many of the people I’ve interviewed who have decent divorces described their spouses as friends first. They entered the marriage with a genuine regard for the other, and this sense of fellowship made it easier for them to focus on creating better lives for both, unwed—rather than spinning out into anger and law suits.
For some, raising children is an intensely important shared interest that spurs cooperation, much like a pre-existing friendship. Prioritizing their mutual interest in raising happy, healthy children helps many couples transition into a friendly co-parenting relationship.
Even working together can act as a form of “friendship.” One woman in her 50s whose marriage ended after her husband cheated, said she was determined to keep their joint business going. This goal forced her to speak more kindly toward him than she might otherwise have, and even to work harder on her own emotional recuperation.
For others, though, creating a cooperative, peaceful divorce is not an easy task. Here are three steps to try, in divorce or even in marriage:
Decrease Negative Rumination
Neuroscientist Helen Fisher, author of The Anatomy of Love, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine neuroscientist Lucy Brown have shown that people in successful relationships can suspend negative judgment of the other person. As with many actions that work in a good marriage, this mental effort can help create a good divorce.