Giving Peace a Chance

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Setting Aside Discontent to Achieve a Successful Divorce Settlement

by Michael Heath


Ending a marriage is a personal and emotional process. The very thought of reversing a marital union that launched a family while engendering so much future promise can conjure up thoughts of miserable failure. Blame may be directed at one spouse but often responsibility for the breakup is something to be shared. Anger, resentment, and bitterness may be justified. Holding on to such unbridled sentiments are certain to have damaging effects on a divorce negotiation.


Causes of Anger

Rarely does a marriage end where there is no hostility toward the spouse. There may have been years of verbal abuse. Drugs and/or alcohol could be reasons for a lack of financial resources. An outside relationship may be the cause of humiliation and a broken heart. Even those who simply grew apart will hold grudges for past transgressions. People marry because they fall in love but divorce for countless reasons. There are lots of bad people out there. Sometimes they start off good only to change over time. If someone finds themselves in a failing marriage, they need to accept the situation so that they can make clear decisions on bringing it to an end.


Getting Even Can Cost a Lot

Confucious is often credited with saying, “Before embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” This cautionary proverb simply suggests that getting even can cost one dearly. Ending a marriage, in and of itself, is generally an expensive procedure. Asking an attorney to extract a pound of flesh from a spouse will likely lead toward a protracted, costly, and emotionally devastating divorce. Some lawyers have no problem fanning the flames of conflict. In the end, a revenge-fueled approach may give attorneys much to do but hardly serve either spouse.


What to Do

Acknowledging the resentment may give pause. Once admitting to the bitterness, one can take a deep breath before analyzing the circumstances. The marriage is ending, but can taking a hateful approach ever yield positive results? The answer is certainly no. Knowing this can take a person to the next step.


A spouse may decide to move forward with divorce while setting aside an injurious past. Depending on how heightened the anger is, that may be easier said than done. Outside assistance should be considered and even encouraged. Practicing meditation and contemplation have serene, calming effects. Counseling from a religious leader or seeking out professional therapy are suggested. Being better prepared emotionally can only be beneficial.


Bring the Marriage to a Better Dissolution   

The processes of mediation and collaborative law both approach divorce from a solutions-based mindset. When couples work together toward reaching a settlement, they maintain control of the negotiations while carving out tailored agreements fitting their circumstances. When spouses make sessions work, they save money and reach a conclusion more expeditiously while reducing hostilities.


There are times when marital acrimony keeps one or both spouses from sitting at the negotiating table. Not all is lost. They may be able to use two good attorneys who calmly and civilly negotiate on their behalf. Doing so leaves open the possibility of salvaging what little relational connection that may still exist.


Why End Things Amicably?

Mentioned earlier are the cost, time, and emotional benefits to divorcing in a collaborative way, but there is even more to gain. Just because a marriage has ended does not mean that the two will never see each other again. When children are involved, it means sharing their upbringing. Eventually there will be graduations, marriages, offspring, and the like. Both mom and dad will be expected to attend occasions held in houses of worship, banquet halls, and homes. This even can be true of shared friends amassed during the marital union. A divorce that is more conciliatory than spiteful has obvious advantages. For the comfort of all, doesn’t it make sense to be respectful of one another when in shared company? Couples could do well by following John Lennon’s musical  exhortation and give peace a chance.



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