Divorce is rarely easy. So many relationships beyond that of the married couple are shifting. Children's relationships with the parents change, sibling relationships can become strained, and even in-laws can be confused about the state of their relationships with their extended family once the sacred union is dissolved. But there are ways to keep the dissolution of the marriage as civil as possible between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

People make decisions based on emotion, even when dividing up an estate or negotiating finances. The likelihood of a patient suing their doctor is directly related to the doctor's bedside manner. People don't sue doctors they like. People don't sue doctors who treat them well, and treat them like people, not patient numbers, symptom lists, or dollar signs. So how well you and your spouse can get along during the dissolution of your union depends on how respectful and cordial you are. Treat them the way you want to be treated, and you're likely to get it back.

2. Focus on equity

Don't get caught up in punishing your ex for misdeeds from before or during the marriage - or during the aftermath. Be fair and just, even if they are unreasonable toward you, or your family. Don't stoop to their level if they start to slide.

3. Let it go

The joys, the pains, the jabs - let it all go. If your former beau did you wrong, know the best revenge is living well. So move on and have the best life possible. When you are happy and healthy, what negativity they bring to the negotiation table won't faze you nearly as much.

4. Planning

Plan ahead

Foresee complications, delays, sabotage, dishonesty and counterproductive decisions, even threats. Create a plan for if and when these issues arise. Be prepared for them. But hope for the best.

And plan for the present

Create a plan for making the entire divorce process seamless, and even enjoyable. Focus on keeping your family as close and comfortable as possible. Arrange family outings, vacations, special events and even volunteer activities. Refocus everyone's attention on something positive.

5. Best interest

Being civil with your spouse through a divorce can feel next to impossible if they continually and intentionally attack your character and what you care about for the sole interest of punishing you or gaining for themselves. But it takes two to tango. You cannot control how they respond to you. But you can always decide to stay in control of your actions and attitudes. If your ex-spouse is taking their unresolved issues out on you, you don't have to take it on. Treat them in ways you can be proud of, and ways your children can be proud of. After all, you are modeling this behavior for your children.

My good friend's parents divorced more than 20 years ago and have remained good friends through the years. And through several more marriages. All of the step siblings get along and several times a year come together to celebrate holidays and grandchildren. They still respect each other, and put their love for the family above their differences. In spending time with all of them, one would never know they were married or divorced without being told.

A civil divorce is possible when both parties are committed to keeping their new family dynamic happy and healthy.

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