As a married person, and a New Hampshire divorce attorney, I’m fascinated to learn about the tips for a successful marriage. One need only do a quick Google search to confirm millions share my fascination – articles, videos, seminars, and essays abound on the subject. Everyone seemingly has an opinion they want to share.
“What surprises me is how little interest there is in tips for a successful divorce.”
What surprises me, given that fully one-half of all marriages fail, is how little interest there is in tips for a successful divorce. Specifically, the best ways to keep your sanity, your relationship with your children, and your financial well-being through a divorce. As a NH family law attorney, this is especially surprising to me because I have found that the average person knows so little about the New Hampshire divorce process and the powerful dynamics at work in almost every divorce. Time and again, I see divorcing couples inadvertently using these dynamics to make their New Hampshire divorces more stressful, more acrimonious, and more costly.
While every divorce is different, there a several behaviors common to couples who have a “successfully” navigated the NH divorce process. I define success as the parties experiencing as little psychological, emotional and financial pain as possible. That there will be good deal in is perhaps inevitable. But the behaviors discussed below stop a contentious divorce from becoming a needlessly acrimonious one.
Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire
It’s often said that negative emotions – sadness, fear, anger, anxiety, etc. – are the fuel for acrimonious divorces. Why? Because very few people make rational decisions in highly emotional states. Think about the actions and decisions you regret most in your life. Many involved emotion overcoming your better judgment.
The NH divorce process is like one long, highly emotional roller-coaster. Its peaks and troughs present you with many, many opportunities to let pride, revenge, rage, depression, and a whole host of other negative emotions drive the bus -typically right into oncoming traffic. In times past, divorcing spouses were better equipped to manage these emotions because they could talk to someone in their support system – a close friends, family member, a minister/priest/rabbi, etc. Nowadays, support systems are rare – a casualty of our transient society.
But your emotions still need an outlet. In the absence of a support system, a therapist is often the only practical outlet for you to vent the powerful emotions you are feeling. By dissipating these emotions on the therapist’s couch, you avoid discussing them on the witness stand. I think that’s a fair trade-off, even for those who are otherwise disinclined to engage in therapy.
Fast is Good
Divorce is not a place to dwell. NH divorce attorneys are expensive, emotions are raw, and uncertainty is the rule, not the exception. But you want to make sure any settlement meets your personal and financial objectives. Your spouse seems to be standing in the way of those objectives, perhaps in way you think is unreasonable. What to do?
Try this. Peer into your future and imagine where you want yourself and your family to be in ten years. Your spouse will be long-gone, and so will the intense emotions you are feeling about him/her right now. In fact, you will likely be ambivalent towards him/her. Statistics show you are also likely to be remarried or in a new relationship.
Now, think about the area of disagreement. Does the disagreement substantially affect your vision for yourself in ten years? The answer probably is no. If so, concede the issue to your spouse in return for him/her conceding on an issue that does affect where you will be in ten years. That’s flexibility, and that’s what gets you through the divorce process much quicker.
Caveat: this approach obviously only works if both spouses have reasonable expectations regarding the divorce and are prepared to make meaningful concessions. As often as not, one party won’t do so.
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