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New Year’s Divorce Resolutions

It is nearly the end of the year, the end of a chapter – we are balancing on the eve of new beginnings. For many people this is the time to reflect on all that has happened in the last year, while resolving to make changes for a better future. Though traditional New Years resolutions such as resolving to quit smoking, eat better, and spend more time with family are fantastic, we at The Law Collaborative wanted to offer some suggestions designed specifically for those of you going through a divorce.

1.  Improve Your Relationship With Your Ex
Once upon a time you loved this person enough to promise “till death do we part” so this year, promise to practice courtesy towards them. Try to understand them. Your marriage may be over, but the relationship is not. Relationships never end. They get worse or they get better, depending on the choices we make. We make choices daily. Every choice has a consequence for good or bad. Are you making choices congruent with your intended future? If you are, they are good choices. Put yourself in your former spouse’s shoes. Recognize your differences. Acknowledge your feelings and theirs.

2.  Improve Communication With Your Ex
Listen without interrupting. Consider their point of view. Ask questions to understand better. Keep an open mind. When you talk to your former spouse, remember what you have in common. Explain what matters to you, and why. When you get angry, stop, take a deep breath, and carefully choose your words. Let go of the blame game. Instead, use “I” statements.  For example, “I feel angry when you walk out of the room while we’re talking because when you don’t listen to me I feel disrespected.” Express how you feel, accept responsibility for your feelings, and describe how their words and actions affect you. Improved communication can help you move through conflict to resolution.

3.  Practice the 7 Rules for Fair Fighting
When difficult conversations have to be had, abiding by the seven rules for fair fighting will help keep the conversation moving in a forward direction that will foster a fair resolution.

4.  Write a Marriage Eulogy and Resolve to Act in Accordance
Fifty years after a divorce, your children and grandchildren will tell a story about why you divorced. They will talk about what kind of person you were. What legacy will you leave behind?  You have the opportunity to design your legacy, to write your divorce story. By writing that story, and by keeping that story in mind, you can guide your actions in a way that the story will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Without having the story as a guideline, you are building without a plan, traveling without a map. You’ll build something you didn’t intend and end up nowhere.

5.  Be A Better Co-Parent
Resolve to keep your problems private, and out of your children’s earshot.  Be kind to each other in front of the children. Your child’s other parent deserves to be treated with kindness. Cruelty to their other parent is child abuse. When speaking about the other parent to the children, keep it positive. Focus on the good in each other, the things you enjoyed, and the things you loved about the other, to help you stay positive in front of the children. Your children are learning from what they see you do and will one day mimic your behavior in their own relationships. Be the bigger person and lead by example. Be a role model to your kids. Assure their successful future relationships. Always remember that your child’s other parent will be a part of your life forever, so treat that person with the respect that you, yourself, would like to be treated.

6.  Respect Family Relationships
Resolve to respect the relationship with your former spouse’s extended family – if it was good, maintain the integrity; if it was problematic, do your best to build cordiality and kindness.

7.  Apologize (Even if you are innocent)
It’s OK to say you’re sorry, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Acknowledging your ex-spouse’s pain and showing empathy by way of a sincere apology can reduce tension and help your ex move on. And besides, no one is ever completely innocent.

This post was written collaboratively by several members of the TLC Team: Ron Supancic, CFLS, Ty Supancic, Esq., Maria Barcena, JD, Terrie Frost, LMFT, and Patricia Frost, Executive Editor.

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