It's natural to feel some guilt when you are getting a divorce, whether you are the initiator or the other party. However, remaining in an unhappy marriage can be detrimental to both people. Since divorce involves personal finances and possible child custody issues, it is important for you to avoid two common guilt traps and deal with your feelings appropriately so that these necessary issues can be settled fairly.
Being Overwhelmed with Guilt
If you allow yourself to be overwhelmed with guilt, this can affect your decision-making at a time when you really need to be thinking about your future as well as your mate's, and your children's if you have them.
You may be relieved to know, in a legal sense, modern day divorce is more businesslike and less about assigning blame. Finding out what your rights are is going to become very important, so you should consult with a family law attorney early on. You may be tempted to give up everything to be free, but you could end up with these problems if you don't think ahead:
- Having so few assets that you can't afford a comfortable place to live or to have your children stay with you.
- Having such a restrictive child custody arrangement imposed on you that you don't get to be a major force in your children's lives.
- Having alimony or child support set so high that you have trouble making ends meet later.
Some people deal with guilt by getting angry or by demonizing or slandering the other person. While some projection (taking one of your own negative qualities and assigning it to the other person) may give you some secret relief or satisfaction, it will end up biting you in the end. An example of this is when one mate who is guilty of infidelity starts accusing the other of it.
Sometimes this refusal to deal with guilt appropriately can even cause people to seek to influence their children to take "their side" against the other parent by exaggerating the faults and idiosyncrasies of the person. This is a form of "parental alienation" and is abusive. It is commonly thought that the person who is resistant to the idea of divorce is more prone to do this, but the initiators of divorce sometimes do this too. Strong religious, societal, or cultural beliefs may influence this behavior.
Handling Difficult Emotions and Working Together
If you treat your mate unfairly, you will increase their feelings of anger and betrayal and reduce their desire to settle things amicably. For the sake of everyone involved, seeking divorce counseling can be very helpful and a good investment.
Through counseling, you and your soon-to-be ex can deal face and acknowledge mistakes and get past them. Your children may also benefit by counseling through being able to express the confusing feelings that divorce engenders.
By dealing with difficult emotions appropriately, you are increasing the chances that your mate will want to deal with you fairly and be willing to negotiate. You will find that a no-fault divorce will benefit you and your ex financially and emotionally. Also by working together, you can settle many financial and custodial issues through personal agreement and mediation, thus reducing litigation.