Yes, it is possible to divorce wisely.
In our culture, we think of divorce as a war, and, like good soldiers, we start gathering up our weapons and our armor. In divorce, as in war, though, it’s best to take a step back and think like a commander-in-chief instead of a foot soldier…or even a general.
The foot soldier has a right to be scared. It’s her life on the line, and she’s not in charge. She has to go wherever her superiors send her, with the equipment they provide. Because it’s her survival at stake, she prepares to lie, cheat and steal, to bite, kick and stab. Her goal is to kill instead of being killed, and to live through the next hour.
The general stands on the top of the hill above the battleground, so he can see the terrain. He sends out scouts to figure out exactly where the enemy is positioned and, if possible, he sends spies to try to figure out what the enemy is thinking. His goal is to win the battle and he’s aware he’ll have to sacrifice many soldiers to achieve this goal.
The wise commander-in-chief, though, has an even longer view. She’s not thinking so much of the battle as the war, and not so much of the war as the peace that will hopefully follow. And she knows that the uglier the war, the harder it will be and the longer it will take to achieve that peace which is her ultimate goal. She wants the soldiers on both sides to relax, to stand down, to stop wasting resources and start being productive citizens once again. So, if there’s a chance to parley, if there’s any way to find out what the enemy wants and how to give it to them without sacrificing her own values, she will go for it. In every decision she makes, she’s thinking, “Will this bring us closer to peace?”
It’s an all-too-human response to enter divorce like a foot soldier. We feel threatened and our bodies automatically jump to a defend and attack mindset. It can help to take a breath, to think beyond the next hour, the next day. What is your goal? Where do you want to be ten years from now? Would you like your family to be at peace? Do you want to look back on the divorce knowing that you acted wisely, and with respect and integrity?
If the answer is yes, if you’d like to figure out how to have a negotiation instead of a war, then the first step is to gather information.
The Divorce Options Class, offered by Collaborative Divorce California at several locations throughout the state, is designed to help couples and individuals to understand the complex choice they’ll have to make at the very beginning of this journey: which process to choose for how to divorce. Every family situation is different. Having the information you need to figure out how to make a good decision is…very wise indeed.