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Top 7 mistakes to avoid when going through a divorce


19.11.18

Mistake #1 is rushing the separation or divorce.

There needs to be a degree of acceptance by both you and your partner that the relationship is ending before embark on the legal separation process. Acceptance tends to be the last stage of the grief cycle, putting you in the right headspace to be more objective.

Take your time to breath. You both need to be in a headspace where you can moderate the level of emotion that you’re experiencing before moving forward.

Mistake #2 is not seeing yourself as a team

You were partners in a relationship and now you have to be partners in a new type of relationship—the separated kind. In order to get through your separation, you’ll need to work together as a team. You’re on the same side.

To invoke the feeling of teamwork, use positive affirmative language such as “we” and “our”. “How are we going to move forward?” “What things do we need to do in order to sort this?”.

This language helps embody the feeling of control and ownership of the process.

Mistake #3 is making assumptions

If you’ve seen Steven Seagal’s movie ‘Under Siege 2’, you’ll remember that one of the characters remarks, ‘Assumption is the mother of all [you know what]’.

When feeling insecure, vulnerable or are in unstable, uncertain situations, we tend to gravitate towards expecting the worst and making negative assumptions. Separation is an uncertain time and in assuming that it will become ugly, we instinctively act protectively and can become quickly defensive towards our partner. This is problematic because we don’t give one another the opportunity to act in good faith and behave in an open, transparent way.

Assume nothing.

Mistake #4 is communication breakdown.

Communication is broadly defined as the sending or receiving of information, whether that be in writing, speaking or body language. Now there are two steps with communication, the actual imparting of information and the second part, which is the receiving of the imparted information—being the ‘listening’.

At a particularly vulnerable and uncertain time, like separation, you and your partner do need to continue to communicate with one another—verbally or in writing, and you need to work at it. Communication breakdown leads to people disengaging with the process and stops them from working as a team. This creates more of an opportunity for other people’s opinions (and lawyers!) to become involved, which can be problematic.

If your partner appears put off or upset by what you’ve said to them, ask them, “What did you hear when I said….?”. This gives you the opportunity to explain to your partner your intended message and provide clarification on the message that you want to send to your partner. Do the reverse for yourself too. If you find yourself put off by something that your partner says, ask them, “To clarify, you said X when I understood it to mean Y. Is that what you meant?”

Mistake #5 can be listening to others.

I’m sure you’ve heard the statement ‘misery enjoys company’. When it comes to separation, everyone knows someone who has been through a separation and ‘it was the worst’.

In listening to horror divorce stories and potentially misguided advice from friends and family, you may be influenced and act in a way that could be detrimental to your separation relationship.

Put appropriate boundaries in place to manage other people’s stories, thoughts and opinions so that your decision-making ability isn’t inappropriately interfered with.

Mistake #6 is having the wrong attitude.

I’m a firm believer that what you put out into the universe, you get back.

Behaving in a defensive and distrusting manner towards your partner will likely cause your relationship to deteriorate.

Although you or your partner may feel that your relationship is fundamentally flawed in some way, a positive attitude and commitment to having a respectful separation will facilitate you starting off on the right foot; having in a trusting, transparent manner, with good intentions.

Mistake #7 is deceit, dishonest, omission.

I’ve seen plenty of separations take a turn for the worst where people have lied, deceived, avoided or omitted information from their partner. 99% of the time, it doesn’t end well.

Sure, sometimes it is appropriate to omit bits and pieces of information but at the end of the day, if the other person discovers the lie, omission or that they’ve been deceived, how are they going to feel when it comes to negotiating with you? Once the trust is gone, it’s incredibly hard, laborious, time consuming and expensive to get back.

Honesty will ordinarily be the best policy in most situations.