Definitions from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
: a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control
: the quality of being worthy of honor or respect
: the ending of a marriage by a legal process
: a complete separation between two things
If you married her or him, you probably felt that they were worthy of your attention, if not also your love and respect.
So whether you are the one making the decision to end the marriage by a legal process or the other is the one, the notion of honor and respect plays a role in the ensuing emotional responses to divorce.
Yes, you may have good reason to decide to end the marriage.
Yes, you may have every human right to respond emotionally.
But responding by insulting the other’s dignity doesn’t make sense under any circumstances.
Granted, making sense is not one of the hallmarks of divorce. What isn’t captured in the dictionary definition of divorce is the reality of there being several different aspects of divorce: emotional, financial and legal. And most divorces start with the legal process and not the emotional process.
Here are three actions to consider for restoring dignity – your dignity and their dignity – to the decision to divorce:
1. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: “What expectations did I have about this relationship that were not met?”
An expectation is often a resentment waiting to happen and we often do not share our expectation with the other to be sure we are on the same page.
2. Share your expectations with the other before you make further life-changing decisions. Ask yourself: “Have I expressed my expectations clearly and has the other person agreed to my expectations?”
We all grow up with unspoken expectations about how certain things are expressed or how decisions are made around conflict, sex, money, and child-rearing. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone to express your expectations so that the other can hear what you are saying while they are struggling with the same challenges.
3. If you are unwilling to take these first two steps, you might ask yourself: “Is what I resent in the other person a reflection of what I don’t like in myself?”
Are you treating yourself as being worth of honor and dignity? What is missing that would open up the communication between you and the other person so that you can work on the emotional separation and then make some decisions about how to proceed with the financial and legal decisions?
You might find a way to go through divorce with dignity while saving money in the process.