Divorce is a time of conflict. Whether your marriage is ending over a breach of trust, a major dispute or just irreconcilable differences, there is something keeping you and your spouse from resolving your marital issues. However, not every divorce has the same level of conflict, and you can minimize conflict during your divorce by taking the right steps.
Before Your Divorce Process Starts
If the incident leading to the split involves domestic violence or infidelity, it may not be possible to avoid a high-conflict divorce. However, if you and your spouse simply grew apart over time, you have more control over how the subject of divorce is initially brought up. When you plan to tell your spouse you want to divorce, you should be prepared for their surprise and give them time to process what you are asking for. Try to avoid focusing on what your spouse has done to harm the relationship; instead, consider how both parties’ actions led to the end of the marriage. Listen to your spouse’s concerns when possible but also be ready to step away from the conversation and come back to it if emotions begin to overwhelm either one of you.
Should your spouse be the one who tells you they want a divorce first, focus on listening and trying to understand their view on things. How you respond here can have an impact on the entire divorce process. When you are able to commit to a cooperative approach, you can save yourself hardship, stress and time in the long run. On the other side of things, if you shut down or try to get “revenge” by taking actions designed to harm your spouse, you will likely make the process more difficult.
During Your Divorce Process
As you start working on your divorce settlement, you can lessen conflict by being open to approaches that allow you and your spouse to cooperate. Despite the long, drawn-out divorce battles you may have seen on TV, the truth is that many couples are able to reach an agreement over all or most of their divorce issues via negotiation. In this scenario, the divorce is uncontested and the court simply validates the agreement you and your spouse already reached. There is also mediation, during which a couple works through divorce issues with the help of a neutral mediator.
However you decide to approach your divorce, it is important to know your true priorities so you can express what you need and want. When you have your own priorities clear in your mind, it will be easier to have fact-based discussions with your spouse and come to conclusions without devolving into arguments.
Look for opportunities to compromise as your negotiations progress. Instead of trying to have the upper hand on each issue, remain open to giving up some ground on the things that are not your priorities so you can push more for the things that are. When you listen to your spouse and try to understand their needs, you have a better chance of reaching solutions that benefit both of you without major sacrifices on either of your parts.
After Your Divorce Process
Once your divorce is over, you still have to follow the terms of your divorce agreement. When you don’t follow the terms of your divorce, it can and will create conflict with your ex. In addition, you could find yourself in trouble with the court. If you feel something in your divorce agreement needs to be changed, consult an attorney for help.