No, a Heart-Healthy Divorce is not an oxymoron. It is possible to use divorce to reset our way of thinking; to sharpen our apology and forgiveness skills; and to learn how to deal with conflict in a completely different way than “lawyering up for the fight”. But a formal approach has never been provided – until now.
After working in the field of family law as a divorce mediator and filing company for 12 years, as a podcast host for over four years, and as a divorced person myself, I understand the most difficult parts of the divorce process, even if it starts fairly amicably, or seriously contentious. Amicable can go south, and contentious can become amicable. You just have to know how the emotional side unfolds, what to expect, how to handle it, and when to take a break.
At the beginning, it’s all about the emotions, the grieving, and the acceptance of the change that divorce is creating in both spouse’s lives. The emotions must be addressed and the marriage grieved before filing because sound legal decisions can’t be made while emotional and grieving. I learned that from my divorce, and several of my clients taught me that approach in their divorces. When people come to my office calmly, respectfully, and courteously communicating with each other, they have taken the time to heal first and file second. These people don’t need attorneys representing them because they can communicate well with each other. They need attorneys to educate them about the law, but they don’t need attorneys as their representatives, their communicators. This is how you save exponential money by being able to communicate with each other.
And speaking of communicating, conflict can still come up on this emotional roller coaster called divorce, but handling conflict with appropriate communication skills is the key. Certainly if one spouse continues to be disruptive, disrespectful, and hurtful, the less aggressive spouse needs to be the front runner in advancing a different style of communicating. Just because one spouse lives in conflict and enjoys inflicting pain on the other spouse, doesn’t it has to be matched. In fact, it is amazing that using communication skills that defuse conflict can turn the tide of aggression by the other spouse. It takes two to argue. One person behaving badly is just that, one person behaving badly. The aggressive one, unless truly mentally compromised, can alter his or her behavior if the calmer spouse holds the peace.
If the emotions have been addressed, and the communication on a better level, there is still the challenge of keeping life balanced. Divorce professionals work during the day, as do those getting divorced. Compartmentalizing time so that work is uninterrupted, and divorce has its own time and attention, is essential. Discussing with the divorce professionals hired how time has to be divided and emails, phone calls, and meetings placed in the schedule for balance, is something that no one discusses. It’s assumed that once a divorce is filed for, the divorce takes precedence over every other part of someone’s life, and that is absolutely incorrect. The focus on divorce decisions is so important that the time has to be set aside for divorce, and not intertwined with the on-going daily schedule.
Lastly, there is laughter, the one thing that is sorely missing in the daily lives of divorcing people. There’s nothing funny about divorce, but there is about life in general. Physical exercise is needed but so is exercise of the brain. To free up the emotional side of the brain, laughter is the best medicine. How about intertwining exercise and laughter by going to goat or puppy yoga? That’s right, there i such a thing as goat yoga and puppy yoga, at least in Los Angeles and a goat farm in Vermont. Life has to get better once these adorable creatures share the exercise mat with you.
Recipe for a Heart-Healthy Divorce address the healing of the heart, the freeing of the mind, the creativity of the brain, and the control that comes with communication skills for conflict.
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Judith Weigle has been a family law mediator for 11 years, in her business Divorce Resource, Inc. She created Recipe for a Heart-Healthy Divorce after working with divorcing couples who exhibited stress and acrimony in the filing and in the mediation of their settlement. The four ingredients in the Recipe for a Heart-Healthy Divorce will turn your divorce around, even if only one spouses employs these techniques.
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