There are essentially eight peace practices that can hep you to maintain a healthier relationship with your soon-to-be-ex or ex husband during your divorce and beyond it. They are:
1) Breathing Exercise, 2) Anchoring Technique, 3) De-escalating Techniques, 4) Self-Care, 5) Challenging a Thought, 6) Dismissing a Thought, 7) 10-10-10 Rule, and 8) Your Divorce Story.
Lets start with number 7.
7. 10-10-10 Rule
Inspired and adapted from Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea, this very simple concept to help you evaluate your choices is based on both the present and future impact they’ll have. When you feel the compulsion to do or say something and are not sure whether you should, consider the following:
- How will I feel about this in 10 minutes?
- How will I feel about this in 10 months?
- How will I feel about this in 10 years?
Say you arrive at your spouse’s house to pick up some of your personal belongings that she has agreed to box up for you. She said she would take care of it because it would upset her too much to watch you do it. Typically, she is immaculate. However, this time, your stuff has been shoved into garbage bags. You want to yell at her, “What is wrong with you? You said you were going to box this stuff up! Had I known you were going to treat my things like garbage I would have never agreed to let you touch it!”
How will I feel about this in 10 minutes? (Pretty good! I can’t believe she snowed me into thinking she was going to take care of my wardrobe when she held it over my head in our marriage. She deserves to be yelled at.)
How will I feel about this in 10 months? (Embarrassed. She was upset. Part of the reason we divorced was because I travel so much for work and I understand now it was probably therapeutic for her to cram my work clothes in a garbage bag. I shouldn’t have yelled at her. I should have asked her what was wrong that made her do that.)
How will you feel about this in 10 years? (Like a total idiot. Who yells at someone over a bag of suits? So it cost me $100 to get them cleaned again. They needed it anyway. I hope the kids forgot all about it.)
Remember that many times during your divorce trivial things may set you off. When you feel a high negative charge, there is something else going on. The 10-10-10 Rule will help you stick to your mission statement as you consider the short- and long-term consequences of your actions. Negativity is like the junk food of emotions. It tastes good while you are eating it, but months and years later you’re still trying to undo the damage.
8. Your Divorce Story
You are creating a story about your divorce that is based on the reality of your decision to divorce and the divorce proceedings as well as your thoughts and feelings about what is going on in your life as you divorce. Your divorce story is what you hear yourself saying in your head about what is going on. It is also what you hear yourself telling others. Ideally, it also creates your own optimistic way of looking at your situation. If your divorce story is negative, you have the power to rewrite it.
If you perceive yourself as a victim, your story will be based largely on how horrible your spouse is and how your spouse ruined your life. If you perceive yourself as a hero, your story will be about how you are making the best of your divorce and trying to move on in a respectful way.
The way you think and talk about your divorce will strongly influence how you act and the decisions you make. A negative story will insure that your past poisons your future. If you find yourself obsessively telling your horror story, you have entered the toxic zone. You can become so trapped in your negative divorce story that it becomes more compelling than anything good that is going on in your life right now. Your story will seem more true every time you tell it, so it is up to you to author a story that leaves you open to let go of your grievances and move on.
The tenor of your divorce story will depend on your ability to deal with your disappointment over getting divorced. As painful as it is, you must confront the reality of things not turning out the way you hoped without becoming jaded and bitter.
(The above is an excerpt from chapter 4, pages 53 and 66-71 of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life). Click the following to find out more information about Diana Mercer's and Katie Wennechuk's new book, "Making Divorce Work", or to purchase a copy.
She is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin/Perigee 2010) (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001) and writes for the Huffington Post, as well as her own blog, Making Divorce Work.