Just like marriages, divorces come in all shapes and sizes. A difficult marriage is no barrier to a peaceful divorce, and a marriage that once seemed a “forever” thing can turn into the most acrimonious divorce you can imagine.
If your divorce has become difficult, how can you cope? Here are some strategies that may help.
1. Try to find common ground
By the time you get to this stage, it may seem like you have absolutely zero in common with your spouse – but try to find some common ground, anyhow. That can provide a stepping stone toward a more amicable (or, slightly less hostile) divorce process.
If you have minor children, try to frame your discussions with your spouse around what needs to happen to reduce stress on the kids and help them through this process, even if that means you and your spouse have to smile through gritted teeth when you’re together. If you both simply want to be done, try to convey the idea that you’ll each be happier if you work together to end the marriage as quickly and efficiently as you can.
2. Identify your support system
It’s really critical to manage your expectations during a difficult divorce. The odds of getting your spouse to be consistent, reasonable and (at a minimum) cordial during your exchanges are slim to none – so find people who will listen to you vent when you’re ready to explode. Keep this circle small, and make sure that they are people you trust to keep your secrets. Stick with your parents, your best friend or a therapist, for example.
3. Limit your exposure
Do not use your social media sites to blast your spouse for their past or present behavior, and do not spend any private time with them trying to talk things out. A rant on Facebook is nonproductive and only likely to feed into the problems. Private conversations are likely to turn into rehashes of old marital battles.
You’re better off limiting your communications by routing everything through your respective attorneys or communicating only via electronic means. The fact that everything is written down (and potentially something the court will see) can put a toxic spouse on their best behavior.
4. Attempt divorce mediation
Finally, don’t rush to litigate your divorce. The cool, controlled atmosphere of a mediation session can often quickly reorient the focus of an otherwise hostile spouse and take things in a more cooperative direction with the assistance of a skilled legal professional.