While people generally do not refer to a divorce as a good thing, some divorces can go much better than others. A good article I saw recently is “Ten Golden Rules for a Good Divorce” by Dr. Constance Ahrons. I would tend to reduce these even further to three basic principles:
1. Let Go of the Anger – As Dr, Ahrons points out, anger is self-destructive. It makes us more miserable than the person we are angry at. Staying angry is like walking around with a big black cloud over our heads. If we want to find the good things in life again, we have to stop focusing on the bad things in the past. It gets in the way of getting through this phase in our lives and moving forward. It also keep us from making the best decisions (i.e. anger clouds our judgment).
2. Want What is Best For the Kids – When we let go of the anger, it becomes easier to think more clearly about our children and their needs. Children need both parents to the extent possible. No parent is perfect, but each parent adds something different. Finding ways for the children to have the best relationship possible with each parent is going to benefit the children for the rest of their lives. This means helping the children continue to view both parents as part of a family, even if there are two households. It means not badmouthing the other parent. We may not like or agree with the other parent, but doing things that hurt the children’s relationship with the other parent are damaging to the children.
3. Look For Mutual Solutions – Very rarely do we get everything we want. In a divorce there are two people who both have their own wants and desires, and often those wants and desires are in conflict. Leaving things up to a third party decision maker (like the court) not only is a huge gamble, but is also likely to result in an outcome that is not very well tailored to either side (a judge does not have the time to get to know either one of you very well). Outcomes that you and your ex come up with will be better fitted to your situations, but we have to recognize that the other side is not likely to agree to what we want unless we make sure they get some of what they want too.