A bad divorce hurts everyone in the family, the extended family, and the friendship circle. Your children could get caught in the middle of arguments and find themselves in the role of messenger or peacekeeper.  You and your spouse could get so caught up in the conflict and in claiming what you feel is rightfully yours that you lose sight of everything you used to love and respect about this person you had planned to spend your life with, until nothing but bitterness remains.

Eventually, when the dust settles, once you realise that the fight wasn’t worth it and you should have done it differently, all you have created is a lifetime of conflict. The good thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Ellen had been feeling disconnected from Glenn. Glenn had always worked long hours in his business. There wasn’t much time for holidays and outings and to enjoy the wealth they had created. They were in their late forties and had been married for twenty-five years. Their two daughters, Jessica and Emily, were both at university. A big part of Ellen wanted something more.  She had imagined that at this stage of their life she and Glenn would be doing what a lot of their friends were doing.  She wanted to feel appreciated.

Meanwhile, Ellen had been friendly with Patrick for two years. He was in her tennis team, and they played tennis every Tuesday night. She and Patrick started an affair, and then she started thinking about a new future – without Glenn.  When Glenn found out about the affair, he was shocked and devastated. He knew that he and Ellen hadn’t been spending much time together, but it had never occurred to him that Ellen wouldn’t always be there for him.  At the very least, he thought she should have talked to him about how she was feeling.  Ellen, on the other hand, thought she had been very clear about her feelings.

Ellen was sorry for the way things had ended, but she knew in her heart that their marriage was over. She didn’t want to hurt Glenn with a bitter divorce battle. She wanted to make sure they would both be okay and could enjoy some kind of friendship and shared times with their daughters. Ellen and Glenn looked for another way. Rather than fighting it out between lawyers, they found a collaborative team that included lawyers, a financial planner, and a family consultant.

Glenn and Ellen worked with the family consultant to reflect on what went wrong and to set respectful boundaries. While Ellen was ready to move forward with her life, Glenn was still in a state of shock, and the family consultant gave him strategies to help move through the grieving process and accept that the marriage was over.

The financial planner helped Glenn and Ellen set goals for their future, including their housing choices, the lifestyle they wanted to maintain and the dreams they still shared for their girls.  Because Ellen hadn’t been as involved in the business as Glenn, she needed help from the financial planner to understand the business financials. Once she’d had time and coaching from the financial planner to come up to speed, she and Glenn were then able to make the necessary practical and legal decisions about the business.

The family consultant worked with the whole family to mend their relationships. Glenn and Ellen’s lawyers guided them through their collaboration, ensuring that they were both comfortable with the final settlement before writing up legally binding documents.

It’s possible to have a divorce where, even though you and your spouse might be hurting, you agree to focus on making the best of it, for yourself, your children, and the people who care about your family.  While you will have to compromise on some things, by working in collaboration, you will spend less money on your legal costs, and have the added value of emotional and financial planning support.

If asked, children would usually prefer that their parents stayed together, but separation doesn’t have to cause lasting damage to them if their parents can get it right.  It is possible for a marriage to end in a way that sets your whole family up for a positive life after divorce.

It isn’t the separation itself that could damage your family, but the way in which you go about it. If you and your spouse are willing to work together for the common good of your family and have the support you need, there is no reason why you and your children can’t maintain healthy relationships.

Ultimately, the kind of separation and divorce you have will affect your recovery and wellbeing after divorce.

This excerpt is from ‘Breaking Up Without Breaking Down’ – Dr Tina Sinclair, Tricia Peters

Marguerite Picard which can be purchased via Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com.au/Breaking-Up-Without-Down-Preserving/dp/0992317665

Please contact MELCA – https://melca.com.au/ for more information and to book a free 15-minute information session.