Your experience in separation and divorce is likely not like driving a car on a straight road. There are bumps and hurdles and some hairpin turns, likely. So, what makes us able to navigate the unanticipated turns gracefully enough to pull away when disaster may otherwise strike? That really depends upon you. Staying alert in divorce is surely important but managing stress and allowing yourself time to decompress too. Many factors depend upon the relationship and mindset you have with and about your STBX (soon to be ex). It may be possible to cooperate around issues involve money and kids or just the opposite. Whatever the case, having a plan and a way to cope is essential.
You will not be able to successfully predict everything that will happen in your separation and divorce. You can predict how you will manage a response. Even when you find yourself initially surprised, alarmed and even disappointed, it’s important to find a way to maintain balance and a calm facade for your kids and your STBX (even when your good friends may see another side of you).
How can you do this?
There are four steps to making this happen:
1. Take time to absorb the message.
Do not immediately respond to any new or surprising information received immediately. It won’t likely be satisfying or helpful to the process.
2. Breathe and think about what the message really says.
Is it just intended to provoke a response or is it potentially problematic for you or your kids? This is an important difference. If the former, don’t automatically send it to your lawyer. Talk to a good friend, or better yet, a divorce coach, who can help you begin to manage, in a very practical way, these messages. Figure out what’s behind the words and try to understand, from your STBX, their perspective. If they have fear or anger, it does not need to be yours.
3. Craft an informed and thoughtful response, if required.
You often don’t need all the words you think you need to express what needs to be said. Give your coach a chance to help you here too. Often in separation and divorce, less said is more for you, that is, your simple and neutral response is less likely to provoke an undesirable back and forth between you and your STBX. Isn’t that the best possible result?
4. Provide a reward for the difficult steps you take.
Yes, it takes energy and lots of effort to be careful and thoughtful in all of your communications with a STBX. After each response, take a walk, talk to a friend, or have a piece of dark chocolate or glass of wine (one only, please, as alcohol issues in separation and divorce can blindside the best of us). The main thing is to find what you enjoy and do it! Try not to make the separation or divorce the only thing that defines you. Remember who you are outside of the relationship and take care to remember and participate in what you appreciate now.
With these three simple steps, you can begin to navigate surprising turns and ups and downs in separation and divorce. It’s still not easy but it can be manageable, and better even, if you do not allow yourself to engage in unnecessary drama and hurtful communications. What really, is the goal of the process, after all? You and your children want to move forward in order to meet the challenges of your next stage of life. Try these techniques, consider working with a divorce coach and be prepared for your next hairpin turn in the process.
Do not be surprised if you find yourself better prepared to meet the next challenge.
You have the tools so use them well.
Cherie Morris, CDC®
I practice as a divorce coach and transformational mediator. I’ve spent much of my life navigating relationships and the conflict that necessarily arises in them. As part of a blended family as a child and now as an adult, I experienced divorce as a two-year-old child and now as a mother of four. My study of conflict resolution started during my undergraduate years and continued as a practicing lawyer. My additional training in mediation and coaching is always about the possibility for agreements and how to achieve what people want and need. My own experience makes clear that those with the most contentment in their lives usually find balance between extremes. This necessarily requires compromise and cooperation with others. However, shifting our own necessarily limited perspective can be difficult. My current full-time work and training in transformational mediation and coaching help all of us to show up as our best selves, when we are most receptive to absorbing both the energy and ideas of others. This takes time and a willingness to embrace many modalities: coaching, mindfulness, maybe legal help, and therapy, too. I’m here to help you connect you with what you need to achieve a resolution of your conflict that works for you.
CDC Certified Divorce Coach ® Directory Listing – https://divorcesupporthelp.com/directory/listing/cherie-morris/
I have two websites: www.DearDivorceCoach.com and www.Recompose.Us. Both sites help you navigate prepare for and navigate life transitions, including divorce. Let’s talk and see if I can support your goals. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. A consultation is always free so we can both make sure it’s a good fit! Reach out today!
* Previously published at: https://www.deardivorcecoach.com/2017/03/02/a-bend-in-the-road-is-not-the-end-of-the-road/