Miserable To Happy: Changing the Divorce Mindset

Divorce is a major change. Even with the most amicable divorces, the child’s world is turned upside-down when they have to move from house to house and realize that their parents will no longer be in the same home together. With Asher, he knew at just four years old that Ben was no longer living at the house. Kids are perceptive, and they often realize much more than we try to let on. 

Divorce and co-parenting are complicated roads to navigate but with the right roadmap, you can take your divorce from hard to happy for your entire family. As spouses, your marriage may be over but your role as parents continues on. Instead of dreading it, approach a divorce with the mindset that this is an opportunity for your children and your family to thrive.

Even if the marriage or divorce process were extremely challenging, you can turn things around by focusing on being successful co-parents and doing what’s best for your kids. Here’s how you can keep the focus on your children and change your mindset about divorce.

  • Set out with the end in mind. Attorney-mediator Eileen Barker says in a Huffington Post article, “Decide early on the sort of post-divorce relationship you want to have. If you want to part on good terms, commit yourself to that.” By making the commitment to be co-parents, it’s easier for couples to navigate the divorce process in a positive way.
  • Accept the rough days but know they won’t last forever. Divorce is a process that’s very similar to grief. You’ll likely go through denial, anger and eventually, acceptance. The faster you can reach the acceptance phase, the easier it will be to move through your daily life. But each stage is important to the healing process so give yourself the time you need to work through it. 
  • It’s okay to pursue happiness. Guilt is extremely common after a divorce. However, when you’re happier, you’re also a better parent. Find things that make you happy – hobbies, activities, friends – and surround yourself with them. It’s okay to treat yourself and take care of yourself. 
  • Allow yourself to move slowly. Even if you’re committed to co-parenting with your ex, there’s no need to jump right into family dinners and joint vacations! Psychology Today advises couples to avoid becoming friends too soon. Focus on parenting first, and if a friendship eventually follows let it happen naturally. 
  • Remember you have a say. It’s better to keep quiet than to speak negatively about your ex. Not only does this negative talk put you in a critical mindset, it perpetuates that attitude in the people you’re speaking to, also. It’s Over Easy recommends shielding your children from anyone else who chooses to speak negatively of your ex, too. 
  • You’re raising happier kids. Kids in the House points out that it’s unhealthy for kids to witness disrespect between their parents. Now that you’re in two separate homes, you can focus on cultivating happy, healthy relationships with your kids without any of the stress of the marriage.  
  • See the silver lining. Once you reach a place of acceptance, you can begin to open your heart to the positive changes that have entered your life because of this divorce. Once the tension decreases between you and your ex, you’ll be able to communicate more positively about the kids. You may even find that you’re better co-parents now than you were during the marriage. This is often because a difficult marriage isn’t preventing you from working together as parents.  You’ll likely realize that you’re now able to enjoy the best parts of each other because you share a common goal – raising happy, healthy kids. Sometimes it takes a divorce to help you see your ex as a partner not a problem.

You have a say in how your divorce impacts your life. By choosing to collaborate with your ex and co-parent, you can shield your kids and yourself from many of the pitfalls of traditional divorces.

Despite the odds, we orchestrated a divorce that made us and everyone we love happier and healthier.” – Ben Heldfond and Nikki DeBartolo

Even if you didn’t start your divorce with this mindset, it’s possible to start charting a new course today. By identifying your central goals, for yourself and your children, you can begin to communicate positively and effectively with your ex to make this happen. 

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