This is one of the first questions a partner in the marriage asks themselves – how bad is it? The dissolution of any relationship (marriage, common-law or otherwise) leaves a lot of “loose ends” that need to be dealt with. These loose ends can include financial issues, the physical living arrangements of each partner in the relationship and the welfare of the children, plus many more which will be covered as we work through this book.
Simple relationships, such as couples who have only been living together for a few months, can be ended with delivery of the so-called “breakup box.” This box holds all the belongings of the other partner and once taken away by that partner, the relationship is, in effect, over.
Ending a long-term relationship, however, is much more difficult. There are multiple issues involved – the biggest issue being whether there are any children involved in the relationship. But let’s clarify the usage of the term “issue” – children should not be considered as issues or as loose ends to be resolved. Children are an integral part of the relationship and will be deeply involved in the dissolution, whether you want them to be or not.
The term “friendly divorce” can be very misleading. Many people believe that there is no such thing as a truly friendly divorce. For the good majority of couples, this is unfortunately the case. Families will be disrupted and feelings will be hurt.
Telling a spouse that you don’t want them in your life anymore is anything but friendly. But it is important to realize that there are families who, despite the tension and the hurt, make remarkable inroads into a friendly relationship, sometimes even a remarkable friendship, where everyone benefits.
To achieve this type of relationship with your soon-to-be ex-spouse (and the children), a better approach towards this process is the idea of a nonconfrontational, or a low-conflict, divorce. This requires each person to try and handle the stress involved without starting World War III.
Each person needs to try and to create win-win solutions to the problems of their divorce. But these win-win solutions require the participation of everyone involved in the situation. This means that your children (and step-children, if applicable) are also stakeholders in the family breakup. They are kind of like the ham in a ham and egg breakfast. The chicken was involved but the pig was committed!
You may be surprised to realize that your children are as committed to the family unit as you are. Involve them. Talk to them. They can be part of the solution or part of the problem; but they will be a part of your divorce.
Negative emotions are one of the biggest culprits in derailing a friendly divorce. This can happen at several points during the divorce process. Just one highimpact confrontation can turn an amicable divorce into a nightmare for both of you.
You can defuse the confrontation and get the low-conflict process back on track with careful consideration of each other’s emotions and careful communication. You are going to have to learn to deal with your emotions and those of others who are involved. This is a time for rational thinking and not crisis management.
If you handle this situation correctly, you will emerge as a more mature person at the end of it. More importantly, this positivity will allow you to end the relationship with a minimum of negative impact on your children.