It’s often emotionally devastating to hear your partner wants a divorce. Grief, sadness, and anger are all part of the process.
Yet anger, especially, can get in the way of making smart decisions during the divorce process. It can lead you to drag a divorce that might have settled amicably all the way into the courtroom. It can also lead you to post-divorce court battles that can stretch on for decades.
Most divorces in Pennsylvania are no-fault divorces framing “irreconcilable differences.” What does that even mean? In some cases, it doesn’t mean that you were fighting all the time, or even that your partner doesn’t love you. Getting yourself emotionally centered by reframing this vague phrase may be one of the best steps you can take towards divorcing well.
Keep these thoughts in mind as you enter this tumultuous process.
You’re not a failure.
Seeing divorce as a failure on your part, your partner’s part, or both is counterproductive. It’s also not even true. Relationships fall apart. People grow apart. Life changes. It’s just the way things are.
Reframe it this way: marriage is a contractual agreement. If a contractual agreement is no longer serving its purpose there’s no shame in dissolving it. You may have made the agreement because you loved your partner, but that doesn’t change the truth of the institution.
In fact, getting a divorce is very similar to dissolving a business partnership. If you can treat it as such you’re already ahead of the game. Start by thinking about your goals for the divorce settlement in a detached, logical way.
Your partner may still love you.
As Aaron Ben-Zeev, Ph.D. points out in Psychology Today, choosing to leave a partner can be a profound act of love when the marriage isn’t allowing one or both partners to thrive.
Love isn’t always enough to build a life together. If you can reframe your irreconcilable differences this way you can view your partner’s decision with compassion. You can also have some compassion for yourself. You may even be able to part on good terms, which is ideal if you have any children.
Divorce can actually be a positive, even for the kids.
Divorce can seem devastating, but it can also give you a fresh start. And while divorce can be hard on the kids, it’s not nearly as psychologically damaging as a contentious partnership. Even if you’re not openly fighting all the time kids can sense the tension between you, and this awareness can creep into every aspect of their life, leaving them anxious and depressed.
So don’t focus on staying together “for the kids.” Focus on creating a parenting agreement built on mutual respect, and adhere to it. With a little thought and planning you can create a tension-free situation the kids can navigate in a healthy way.
You may need help with this process.
There’s a reason we suggest getting a therapist during your divorce. A therapist can help you process your emotions in a productive way so you don’t end up making emotional decisions when you sit down with us, your divorce attorneys. Mindset matters.