Whether it feels like a far-off fantasy or is something you’re already living, an amicable divorce can make all the difference in what your new beginning looks like after an end. Some couples approach the end of their marriage with a lot of peace at the idea of parting ways. Even when it’s painful, they just want support in knowing their experience is shared by others.
Amicable divorces are possible and they do exist! They’re exactly what you’re looking for as you prepare for the farewell of a forever you imagined. They are not a myth, and if you are still enjoying a movie night with your ex but don’t want to be married anymore (or even if you’re not sure), they just might be for you.
What’s an amicable divorce look like?
Amicable divorce, also called conscious uncoupling in some spaces, is choosing a respectful end to a relationship. In amicable divorces, the former couple prioritizes the positive outcomes they want in their life after their relationship ends instead of focusing on the difficult decision to end it.
Working through those emotions is an important part of every ending, and resolving hurt feelings should be handled with care instead of cruelty. But for many divorcing people, that’s where the process ends: with hurt feelings. An amicable divorce is what that journey looks like if you can commit to your path of healing long enough. Even if it’s just to include the pain of your relationship’s end in the conversation you have with your former partner about why it happened.
Finding a new normal with your former partner
This is the first step – and the most powerful secret – to having an amicable ending to your marriage. Put whatever steps in place that you need to feel safe and supported as you begin to navigate finding a new normal. Whether you plan to still be a part of one another’s lives through choice or obligation, it’s important to work through any emotional backlog from the relationship. This chapter needs an ending before you can build something productive that works for the next one.
Divorce counseling can help you outline the roles you’d like to take in one another’s lives moving forward. This allows you to prioritize the emotional conversations that currently stand in the way of those spaces. For divorcing couples who are parents, business partners, or otherwise entwined beyond their own will, this is the new foundation on which you will present your future to the world.
When there are children involved
For some people, the children you share with your ex will be the biggest motivation in achieving an amicable tone to your divorce. Your children likely won’t understand why things are changing which can be painful to try to navigate amid your own feelings. Even with a new way of living ahead, you can still work together as a family to help them understand how that will look.
An amicable divorce will center their concept of family around each parent loving the children involved even after their own relationship has ended.
Children may ask questions you can’t answer or ones that are difficult to answer. This is something you can prepare for in divorce counseling with your former partner so that you’re not caught off guard when it happens.
Coping with emotions and attorneys
The legality of divorce can make an amicable situation feel almost unattainable. Anxiety about the attitudes in the attorney’s office can drive up tension, particularly if there are a lot of assets or complicated things to sort through in the financial sense. In this way, emotions tend to come out in spades when wading in the legal waters of your marriage’s end.
You may have begun to touch on these hard emotions in couples counseling before your divorce was decided on, but if anything is left unresolved, the attorney is the last place you want it to come up. Many people fear their feelings will be weaponized against them to create an expensive battle that you can’t afford in any sense of the word.
Preparation for this can occur in a few ways. Talk with your former partner so you both have a clear understanding of what you need to divide and how you may want the attorney’s advice. Use your divorce counseling sessions to navigate any emotions those discussions bring up so that when you arrive in a legal arena, you can approach these matters in the same manner you manage your children: with a unified front.
How to handle conversations about your divorce
Whether you’re talking to your best friend or a colleague you pass in the break room of the office every once in a while, it can feel incredibly uncomfortable to navigate questions about your relationship or divorce. Many people in those conversations feel just as uncomfortable as you do, which only makes the whole situation worse.
Not knowing what to say can be difficult. Sometimes, knowing what someone else is going to say and preparing for it is a truly difficult bit. Have an honest talk with your former partner to clarify just what you’d like to share with others. Then, spend some time with your therapist discussing your own emotional landscape so that when you inevitably find yourself in these hard conversations, you know exactly what you want to convey and don’t feel caught off guard.
“If you can still get along, are you sure you want to get divorced?”
First of all, this question is going to happen way more often than you ever expected it to. And second of all, it’s going to get more frustrating every time. The hardest thing about this question is that no one actually wants to get divorced. It isn’t an active desire people enter relationships with and if yours is ending in divorce that you’re striving to be amicable about, there is something left in that relationship to respect that feels worth preserving.
This question may feel invasive, and it may make you doubt your perspective on the situation. It may even make you doubt your decisions. That’s what makes this likely harmless question so dangerous and it’s also the secret to managing it.
Approach this question, and honestly your entire divorce, by finding ways to reaffirm your confidence in your decision making, worth and general capability to create a healthy emotional environment in your life.
If you’re navigating an amicable divorce, or just hoping to make your messy one a little bit more bearable, we’re always here to help you find the right path. From divorce counseling to stress management, let us support you in awakening the amiability in your life.