A Bend In The Road Is Not The End Of The Road
- Take time to absorb the message. Do not immediately respond to any new or surprising information received immediately. It won’t likely be satisfying or helpful to the process.
- Breathe and think about what the message really says. Is it just intended to provoke a response or is it potentially problematic for you or your kids? This is an important difference. If the former, don’t automatically send it to your lawyer. Talk to a good friend, or better yet, a divorce coach, who can help you begin to manage, in a very practical way, these messages. Figure out what’s behind the words and try to understand, from your STBX, their perspective. If they have fear or anger, it does not need to be yours.
- Craft an informed and thoughtful response, if required. You often don’t need all the words you think you need to express what needs to be said. Give your coach a chance to help you here too. Often in separation and divorce, less said is more for you, that is, your simple and neutral response is less likely to provoke an undesirable back and forth between you and your STBX. Isn’t that the best possible result?
- Provide a reward for the difficult steps you take. Yes, it takes energy and lots of effort to be careful and thoughtful in all of your communications with a STBX. After each response, take a walk, talk to a friend, or have a piece of dark chocolate or glass of wine (one only, please, as alcohol issues in separation and divorce can blindside the best of us). The main thing is to find what you enjoy and do it! Try not to make the separation or divorce the only thing that defines you. Remember who you are outside of the relationship and take care to remember and participate in what you appreciate now.
With these three simple steps, you can begin to navigate surprising turns and ups and downs in separation and divorce. It’s still not easy but it can be manageable, and better even, if you do not allow yourself to engage in unnecessary drama and hurtful communications. What really, is the goal of the process, after all? You and your children want to move forward in order to meet the challenges of your next stage of life. Try these techniques, consider working with a divorce coach and be prepared for your next hairpin turn in the process. Do not be surprised if you find yourself better prepared to meet the next challenge. You have the tools so use them well.