In our previous post, we discussed the easiest way to blow up your divorce from the start is to not have a well-thought plan of preferred outcomes – if you do not know what you really want, what is most important to you in the process, you will not know your true objectives and your lawyer will end up walking down a dark alley in negotiations. Once you have a solid, rational plan, what could go wrong?
Let’s return to our balancing act between negative emotions and rational thought. Once the process begins, even after you have the calming discussions with your lawyer, your spouse will not have the same plan, and your spouse may not be very rational. In fact, your spouse may have every intention of trying to push every one of your buttons, hoping you will “lose it” and make bad decisions or appear impertinent to the court or the guardian ad litem.
From the beginning, your spouse will have different objectives than you, and it may become combative because your differences go to your “non-negotiable” items. You will be very tempted to get very emotional and stray from your well-thought plan. You will want to strike back at your spouse or try to get even. In short, you will want to react very emotionally and very negatively. It is in these moments that the best-laid plans get blown up – or won – depending on how you react. If you feel tempted to explode, resist the temptation and talk with your lawyer to help keep you in check and focused in the right direction. If you feel you cannot keep it together because of all the emotions, even after your lawyer has explained your options and the likelihood of success, you should consider getting outside help – counseling is a strength, not a weakness, during a divorce. If you cannot balance the emotions and the upheaval divorce causes, speaking with a therapist will allow you to process and learn to cope.
As the divorce progresses, try to avoid an emotional “tit for tat” response. If your spouse tries to bait you, do not take the bait. And if you feel tempted to tap your spouse’s emotional triggers, resist that temptation. Take the high road.
When you have interactions with the children, try to keep relations as healthy as possible. Do not disparage your spouse in front of the children or try to tilt the children against the other spouse. Do not bring the negative emotions between you and your spouse and put it on the children. When the divorce ends, you will both still be parents and you will both want healthy children with healthy relationships with both parents. Not only will remaining “appropriate” with the children help the children, it will help you realize you can keep it together when you have to sit opposite your spouse, in negotiations or court, and remain composed.
Finally, remember you are not seeking justice – this is not a criminal case – you are seeking the best resolution with a minimum of emotional scars. If you get what you want from your initial ranking of preferences, you will find yourself well-positioned to move on with the rest of your life – that is the ultimate goal of your divorce for you.
If you stay more positive than negative, more proactive than reactive, your lawyer will best be able to help you achieve what you really want in the divorce with little likelihood it will blow up in your face before the judge signs the final decree.
If you have questions about divorce, contact us – we can help.