By the time you and your partner decide to separate, it is very customary to feel stressed, anxious, and tired. It usually takes a lot to make this big life-changing decision. Once you make your decision, you’ll begin to realize there is so much work ahead of you. AND, if you’re quarantined together during the COVID-19 crisis, for example, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may still be living in the same residence. If you have to put your actual separation on “hold” until life begins to return to normal, this can make things even harder. If your employment and family life has been affected by our pandemic protocols, there are several steps you can take to simplify your divorce and reduce associated stress. Simplifying your divorce is an important way to start moving forward. Here’s what you need to know:
First, make sure and be extra vigilant that you and your former partner are communicating in ways that are appropriate and healthy. In some cases, you may be tempted to be mean, rude, snarky, or even passive-aggressive. Choose to set these behaviors aside so that you can speak with your former partner in healthy ways. If it is too intense at first, you may find that communicating by text message or for very short periods of times works best. As you begin to move forward, however, you may be able to begin communicating for longer periods of time and in different ways. Do not bring up past fights and conflicts, and refrain from calling each other names, and blaming each other about who caused what. When you’re communicating, stay focused on the things you both need to address to keep moving forward. If you believe that your partner is at fault for the divorce, especially during the pandemic hotbed, simply right now. Focus on asking very specific and neutral questions that will help the two of you share your thoughts effectively.
Set Aside Your Arguments
When you and your partner decide to divorce, that’s usually “it.” Your arguments about your marriage, fixing it or staying in it, should be over. There is no need to solve anything else because you’ve made your decision. So if you’ve been arguing for years over who snores more, or who always leaves the cap off of the toothpaste tube, those grievance should go into the past as fast as you can. When you choose to separate, it’s time to stop fighting and focus on building your new separate lives. In some cases, you may be dealing with some very big problems and betrayals. Perhaps other people have already been introduced into your life. Maybe you don’t like their influence on your children or on the family budget. No matter what your personal arguments, issues, or problems might be, it is best to narrow your focus to the issues that pertain to those that surround divorce and your new lives.
Focus on Shared Goals
The healthiest thing you can do during this time is to focus on shared goals. Do you and your partner share children? You can focus on helping your children transition carefully during this time. Do you and your partner need to sell the house? Focus on cleaning it, finishing repairs, jointly selecting the realtor and the listing price and getting your home sale and move-out ready. When you’re able to focus on goals that you can work on together, you become allies on shared goals and because you have inherent agreements for mutual success on your goals. When you’re working together, instead of against each other, this gives you momentum that you can then apply to your goal of effectively ending the relationship.
Talk With Your Kids
Though you don’t want to hide the divorce from your kids, they usually know before you tell the about what is going on. Because after all, their very survival depends upon your stability. They are usually very sensitive to what you are going through and sometimes they blame themselves for circumstances they have nothing to do with. When you and your spouse decide to divorce, the children are usually your greatest concern. Whether you have infants, pre-teens, or grown children, chances are they will have pretty strong emotions about the divorce. It is best to be ready to deal with as a co-parent team. It is extremely important not to pit one parent against the other in an attempt to alienate the other parent as this is very damaging to the children short and long term. Instead, tell your children calmly and without a lot of dramatic emotion about your mutual decision to divorce, and then start working with them to begin moving forward. If your kids are living with you during the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are that they’re already aware of the marital tensions you and your partner have been experiencing. Always tell your children that you love them very much and emphasize that your decision to divorce has nothing to do with them. Also make sure they understand that they will always be taken care of and that you will always be there for them and always be their parents even if you start living in different homes. Find ways of being with your children in ways where they can express themselves and read books together as a family about divorce and other family relationship stories.
When you’re ready to divorce, contact your attorney to start the process. Your lawyer understands that this is a very personal, very sensitive decision, and they’ll do everything they can to help ease the transition for you. Remember that learning to cope with a divorce can take time, but there are many steps you can take to simplify the process that will benefit you in the long run.
McMurdie Law and Mediation is dedicated to helping clients develop resolutions that are healthy and beneficial to all parties. We are currently still meeting with clients as they request and following CDC protocols. Mediation can be held using any modality available by computer, whether it’s a Zoom, FaceTime, or another similar software. Call McMurdie Law and Mediation at 480-777-5500 today to schedule a consultation.