You’re going through a divorce and you dread the screaming, yelling, and fighting that you have heard people deal with during this process. Here are five things you can do to reduce the conflict as you go through a divorce:
1. Think Before You Communicate: If you want your spouse to respond to your e-mail or text message, don’t start it off with a nasty zinger. Keep the goal of your communication in mind and keep your message simple: just the essential facts.
2. Choose Your Battles: The emotional nature of divorce turns every small disagreement into fighting words. Resist the temptation to argue over your spouse’s decision to serve the kids pizza or her failure to return the sweatshirt you sent over. Your kids will be better off if they don’t have to see their parents in constant conflict.
3. Keep Your Parents on the Sidelines: Your parents, and other well-meaning family and friends, want to support you, but sometimes they decide that the best way to show they love you is to run down your spouse. That kind of support is no support at all. Your kids are going to hear the negative comments and get caught squarely in the middle.
4. Put Your Kids First: Spend your time with your children, rather than your new “significant other.” Bringing a new person into your life during the divorce will only make your spouse angrier, expose the new person to the possibility of being dragged into your case, and is likely to set up your children for disappointment or at least confusion if they become connected to a new parental figure. You’ll have plenty of time for a love life after the divorce is over.
5. Respond Promptly: If your spouse (or your lawyer) makes a request, get back to them. Nothing promotes distrust more than unexplained delays. Your spouse will start concocting all kinds of reasons why you failed to respond, none of which will be helpful to you.