Divorcing Dads: How To Keep Your Divorce Low-Conflict
Whether your wife did you wrong, or you’re the one to pull the plug, no one wins when a divorce turns dirty – except lawyers. So put aside your grievances towards your STBX and follow these tips to keep your divorce as low-conflict as possible.
- Mediate, not litigate. The way you begin your divorce sets the tone for your post-divorce life and co-parenting relationship. Mediation is the cheapest, kindest way to dissolve a marriage. In order to make mediation successful, you must be flexible in your thinking, able to manage your emotions, and prepared to compromise. While you may want to wear your spouse down to get what you want, you’re likely to have less control – and less money – the longer your divorce drags on.
- Pay child support on time. You may resent this, especially if the divorce was not your idea, or you don’t trust that your ex is spending it appropriately. But remember that child support helps your kids live more comfortably than they would without it. Don’t you want them to have adequate housing, plenty of food to eat, and enough clothes? Not paying child support on time or in full just creates financial and psychological stress for your ex, which will trickle down to your kids.
- Support your co-parent’s relationship with your children. No matter how much you may loathe your ex, she is still the mother of your children. Your job as a co-parent is to support the relationship your kids have with your STBX. Trying to come in between them ultimately hurts your children more than your ex. So, refrain from bad-mouthing, follow your parenting plan, and pay child support on time.
- Don’t act out of anger or revenge. Blowing off steam may give you temporary relief, but it’s likely to produce long-lasting negative consequences. Using money and children to punish your spouse will turn an amicable divorce into an unnecessarily acrimonious one, and make it impossible to co-parent effectively. Getting angry won’t change the past, or give your STBX a personality transplant. Put your energy to better use by learning to manage your frustrations skillfully.
- Adopt a low-conflict communication style. One of the best ways to keep conflict to a minimum is to follow an effective communication protocol. When emailing or texting your ex, be brief, informative (no opinions, advice, or emotion), neutral in tone and firm (set limits assertively, but not aggressively). If your ex responds with snark or vitriol, don’t follow suit – that will just invite more conflict. It takes two people to have a fight, so be diligent about disengaging.
Bottom line: conflict will just keep you engaged with your spouse. When you view your divorce as an opportunity for growth, instead of a vehicle to punish your ex, you’ll be able to move forward and live a purposeful life.