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Can you have a healthy divorce?

Is a divorce ever healthy? Is that even possible?

You can certainly have a healthy marriage — and an unhealthy one. It seems like the reverse would also have to be true. “Healthy” just isn’t the way that most people are accustomed to thinking about divorce.

Divorces are often unexpected and inherently destructive — but they don’t have to be unhealthy or bad for you. They end your marriage, but they also start you down a road to a new future — one that’s hopefully better than your present reality.

Being stuck in an unhealthy marriage is no fun for anyone. If you and your spouse can agree on the fact that your marriage isn’t working, maybe you can manage to make your divorce work a lot better. Here’s how to do it:

Give yourself a break

Going through a divorce is an emotional process, even if you know your marriage isn’t good. Your whole idea of who you are and where your life is going is suddenly changing. Be gentle toward yourself and find inexpensive or productive ways to pamper yourself a little. Spend time reading. Pick up a new hobby. Start exercising. Go to therapy. The shift in focus can help you handle the stress.

Consider mediation

Instead of heading straight for court, see how much you and your spouse can work out between you. When you get down to a few last sticking points, consider mediation. Mediation can often help spouses communicate and find a middle ground — even when it doesn’t seem possible. It also allows both you and your spouse to keep control over your lives. If you go to court, a judge will take control.

Focus on the kids

If you have kids, the odds are good that you and your spouse both worry how the divorce will affect them. That’s a great place to start working together. A joint effort may be necessary when you present the kids with the news in order to reassure them that they’ll be okay and you’ll both stick around for them.

If your marriage isn’t working, the healthiest option really is a divorce. With the right approach, you may eventually find that you and your spouse make the best ex-spouses in the world!

Source: American Psychological Association, “Healthy divorce: How to make your split as smooth as possible,” accessed May 16, 2018