Before I tell you how to have a good divorce, I have to tell you how to have a terrible, nasty, caustic divorce. This works really well. Step 1, blame someone for your misery. And you know who to blame too, don't you? Yeah, you do. It's not too hard to find that person to blame. Don't take any personal responsibility here. If you want to have a really nasty divorce, you must have an enemy –someone to blame. And you know quite frankly? If you can't find it in your heart to really blame the person, then at least blame the circumstances or blame the events or blame the things that happened that totally destroyed your marriage. You got to have the blame in place. That's an important part for the grievance to develop properly.
Step 2 in having a terrible divorce is to practice pride. I mean the good old-fashioned destructive pride where you know that you are right. I interviewed Brett Williams at Live on Purpose TV here months ago. Brett Williams is the author of “You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married.” Well you know you're right. Hang on to that position. Practice destructive pride that has you stubbornly refusing to yield on any position.
For this last step on how to have a terrible divorce, I have to lay a little bit of background. Part of my history as a psychologist was spent doing child custody evaluations for the court. These are bitter, angry, nastily divorced people who cannot figure out how to share their kids. There's this battle going on and so Dr. Paul gets sent in to sort things out. Thankfully I don't do that kind of work anymore, but I sure learned a lot. And one of the things that I learned in a divorce –a bad divorce, is you have to create, fabricate, make up an ex that you can hate. And you have to do this because of cognitive dissonance. That's just a psychological word that means it's not cool to be divorced from a really awesome person. Do you see how that doesn't quite fit? Cognitive dissonance is when your experience doesn't match with your beliefs. So, you have to reconcile it somewhere. It is okay to be divorced from a nasty terrible horrible awful spawn of Satan sort of a person, so, you create one of those in your mind. You create an ex that you can hate. This makes the divorce so much worse. It's exactly what we're going for here.
It's really a case of identity theft, because the person you create in your mind isn't a real person. This person has the name and face and identifying information that's the same as your ex-spouse. See? Then this person this imaginary person stole their identity and now you can hate that person. And this will drive your ex crazy too, because that's not even them, but they'll find themselves defending that person all the time. Awesome formula, right? Are we clear on how to have a terrible divorce? Now, we get to the good stuff.
You get to choose what kind of divorce you are going to have. And if you want to have a terrible one, you do the things that I just said. Blame someone or something else for being where you are. Practice destructive pride because you know that you're right. And create or fabricate an ex in your own mind and imagination that you can hate forever. Sounds awesome, doesn't it? No. I set that up as a contrast because I want you to see it happening. And until you're aware of it, you don't have any control over it. So, pay attention, please. I am NOT here to tell you how to think. I don't have that kind of authority. That is one way to be totally miserable for the foreseeable future. Oh! And it gets expensive too. One of the families that I worked with spent over 300,000 US dollars in their custody dispute. What if they would have spent that money on their kids instead? How much college and education can you get for 300 grand? Well, this is why I get so passionate about it.
Now, what if you are on the divorce path but you want to have a good divorce? How do we do that? I know this because of all the clinical experience that I've done over the past several decades in working with families both in high conflict divorce situations and in high performance & high functioning families, which I also have the honor of working with. There are nine principles. These nine principles are guaranteed to make a marriage work. Well, guess what? I figured out that these nine principles are guaranteed to make a divorce work. It's just that people don't try them, they throw them out the window and they get divorced in favor of the other nasty things that we already talked about.
I'll go through them quickly because we cover them in more detail in other articles and in our coaching programs. Here it is. Number one, positivity. That has to do with the position of your own mind, it has nothing to do with what has happened. It has to do with how you are handling what has happened. Positivity.
Number 2, values. You stick to your values, your morals, your ethics. I want you to come through this with full integrity and do not allow the conflict of a divorce to pull you off of center. You stick to your values.
Number 3, humility. Remember we talked about pride as part of how to have a terrible divorce? Well humility is the antidote. Give up your need to be right in exchange for being open.
Number 4, forgiveness. “What? In a divorce? What if they don't deserve forgiveness?” That has nothing to do with it. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It's not that you have some magical mystical power that you can actually forgive someone for something they did wrong. You don't have that kind of authority. Get off your high horse. Forgiveness is about you. It's about changing your heart and mind. It's about giving up your demand for a better past so that you can move forward with power. Forgiveness.
Number 5. Respect. I was running a group with juvenile delinquents in a Correctional Facility. One of the kids in the group pops off. “I respect those who respect me”. And I'm thinking, “Oh, wow. That's impressive. Like who can't do that?” It's easy to respect people who respect you. I'm talking about who you are at your core. Don't let go of that. You are a respectful person, that is why you are going to treat your ex with respect. It has nothing to do with whether they deserve it or not. This is about you. Respect.
Number 6, love. Love is a choice. It even says so on the cover of my book, The Love Choice. I'm not talking about a feeling, although love is associated with feelings. I'm talking about it as a choice. And the short version is you have to fall on one side or the other. Every interaction you have with your former spouse is going to be either a loving interaction or a hateful one. And I use the word hate because people hate the word hate. But check it out. If it's not love, what is it? You choose love. Why? Because you're that kind of person, and hate is destructive. You look at the news. We've had enough of hate. I got to ride in a Lyft in Denver recently. My Lyft drivers name was the same as mine –Paul. Paul told me a story as he was giving me a ride to where I needed to go –about witnessing the murder of his family as a young man in Rwanda. The genocide happened because people chose hate. Am I overstating this or not? If we choose hate, it causes death and destruction and mayhem in this world. We've had enough of the hate. You choose love no matter what because of who you are.
Principle number 7 for having a good divorce is compassion. We have already talked about respect and love. We could say many of the same things about compassion. It also has a whole lot to do with kindness. Just treating people as people, not as objects, not as enemies. Compassion, kindness ties right into the love choice that we talked about earlier.
Number 8 is work. This is a law of the universe people. Good things don't happen without work, even in physics. Work is the process by which matter transforms. It has to go through some kind of process. It's going to be a little bit of work for you to create a good divorce. Don't shy away from it. Get some help if you need it. We've got some great coaches on our team that could help you personally with it. Yes, it's going to be hard. Sorry.
Number 9, wholesome recreational activities. If we're not having fun, we're doing it wrong. You are a human being that needs to have some fun and some joy in life. If you are in a divorce situation, stop waiting for your ex to make your life okay. Move forward with purpose and intention. Who's responsible for you having a joyful life? You are. One of the ways that you can accomplish that is through intentionally placing wholesome recreational activities into your schedule, into your life.
These nine principles are absolutely guaranteed. What I have found in a divorce situation is that people tend to go the way of bitterness and anger and blaming, and what I call a victim mentality. Let's get you centered in the agent mentality. I go into some detail on this in some of the private coaching that I do including some programs that we can get you involved with. So, if you want to look at that a little bit more, let's have that conversation. I'm on your side. I just mentioned some coaching programs that are available. You know the best way to get connected to that is to get on a free breakthrough call with one of our team. It might be me, it might be one our Live On Purpose Certified Coaches. You can reach us at www.drpauljenkins.com/ breakthroughcall. That will put you right on our scheduling page, not a sales page. Let's find the time to talk.