Few life events are as notorious for causing conflict as divorce. Not every single split devolves into an epic screaming match, but if we’re being realistic, if there was no friction at all, you probably wouldn’t be getting a divorce in the first place.
Emotions are high and tempers can flare, but that’s no reason to lose control. With that in mind, here are some tips to help avoid, or at least diminish, conflict during and after your divorce.
It’s hard for two people to fight if there’s no contact between them. As your divorce will likely involve negotiations and such, there will necessarily be some interaction, but there are steps you can take to limit the amount.
You can communicate via an intermediary, perhaps through your respective attorneys. They can pass written notes back and forth. During mediation, you and your spouse can even be in different rooms with a mediator acting as a go-between.
Stay Off Social Media
This is a relatively new concern as social media wasn’t an issue even a few years ago. Now, however, many people take to Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to share the minute details of their lives. As divorce is a substantial occurrence, it often winds up as online fodder. You don’t have to completely stay off of social media, but you don’t need to air your dirty laundry in a public forum either. It can be more of a headache than it’s worth.
Even if you and your soon-to-be-ex are no longer linked, if you have mutual friends or family members among your contacts, word may get around and lead to conflict. At the very least, think about what you post, how it may be construed, and what it may stir up. Your safest bet is simply to not mention your spouse or your divorce at all. Stick to the cute kitten memes and sports rants.
Focus On Yourself
You can’t control what your spouse does, but you can control yourself. Don’t worry about what she’s up to or about things you can’t change.
Focus on yourself. Instead of dwelling on the past, on any old wounds and preexisting quarrels the two of you may have, look towards the future. Concentrate on moving forward with your life.
Plan what you’re going to do after the divorce is finalized and what you can do now that you couldn’t do before. This may be the perfect time to start taking care of yourself emotionally. You have enough to contend with that you don’t need to fret over your ex.
In many cases, your soon-to-be-ex may simply be trying to pick a fight or get a rise out of you. Don’t stoop to that level. You may want to scream and yell and throw things—who knows how to get under your skin and push all of your buttons like someone to whom you were married?
It may hurt, it may infuriate you, and you may want nothing more than to get in there and mix it up with her, but that isn’t going to do anyone any good. It will likely just make you feel like garbage.
If there are kids involved, take their feelings into consideration and just walk away. You may have to have your attorney handle the communication from here on out, but you can prevent this conflict if you try. The best approach may be to not engage in the first place.
Take Steps To Make Custody Exchanges Easier
Even if you don’t want anything to do with your ex after the divorce, if there are kids involved, she’ll likely remain a part of your life whether you like it or not. Custody exchanges are prime time for conflict, but there are ways to smooth over any rough patches.
Make sure everything the kids need is packed and ready to go before hand. This will limit the amount of face time you have to endure. You can use school, daycare, or a babysitter to make the swaps and rarely have to see one another.
If you make the trades in a public place, or in front of a third party like a mutual acquaintance, both of you may be less prone to make a scene.
Live By The Divorce Agreement
Whether you and your former spouse come to the divorce agreement on your own, through mediation, or it was handed down by a judge, abide by the specifics of that decree. You may not think it’s fair, but don’t let anger, hostility, or frustration infect your relationship with your ex, or, by extension, your kids.
If you agreed to pay child or spousal support, pay it. The same goes if you were ordered to cover certain shared debts. It will simplify your life and cut down on the friction if you accept and live by the terms.
Try To Find Common Ground
Few things can smooth over conflict like common ground and shared interests. If there are children involved, this may be the perfect platform. Put their wellbeing and security ahead of your own.
If both of you spend your energy focusing on what is best for the kids, there may very well be less room for petty squabbles and nitpicking fights. Your kids need you and their mother much more than either of you needs to bicker. If you can put their happiness first, it can go a long way towards sidestepping any skirmishes.
Avoiding conflict during and after divorce may not be easy, and it may be a process. A contentious split can be exhausting, demanding, and emotionally draining.
Most likely the situation won’t improve overnight, but if you’re consistent and realistic about what you need and where you want to go, if you refuse to engage, and if you take steps to skirt discord when you can, you may be able to circumvent trouble before it starts.