Is it really possible to keep your divorce civil? Yes, but easy? No. So when I read the news about Jeff Bezos divorce and his and his wife Mackenzie’s comments about how they’d reached an amicable agreement on how to end their marriage, I was glad.
As a divorce lawyer, I know one of the hardest parts of the divorce process is taking the emotion out of it so the real work can begin. No one can concentrate on the real issues while they are coping with distrust, anger, and upheaval of the end of their relationship. Their public breakup couldn’t have been more embarrassing and humiliating for MacKenzie Bezos. Having your marriage end is one thing, but to have the whole world learn about her husband’s affair on the news is quite another thing. Infidelity is hard on any divorce, but such a public disclosure sure doesn’t help things.
Mackenzie and Jeff Bezos Take the Civil Approach to Divorce
While everyone waited to see how much of a blood bath the Bezos divorce was going to be, instead, MacKenzie Bezos tweeted that she was “grateful to have finished the process” of getting her divorce over with and that she was looking forward to the next phase of her life. Of course, she has a lot of money and looks amazing (and so much better than him!), so that surely helps, but the Bezos divorce could have taken the bumpy road of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Jeff Bezos’s tweet echoed hers and praised his ex-wife, saying, “She has been an extraordinary partner, ally, and mother. She is resourceful and brilliant and loving, and as our futures unroll, I know I’ll always be learning from her.”
5 Secrets to Keep Your Divorce Civil
While it all looks so easy for MacKenzie Bezos, but there are a lot of people that manage to get through the divorce process just like she does. So, what’s their secret?
Every marriage that ends has to go through the same process. Kids’ schedules have to be figured out, there are decisions to be made regarding who gets the property and debt. Yet some people manage to take it more in stride than others. Of course, it is painful for everyone, but those who divorce well seem to come out of the process easier.
It always interests me to see which of my clients is going to be able to keep on track and get the job done vs. those who never seem to concentrate. Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen some similarities in people who come out of the process well.
Secret #1 – Educate Yourself On Divorce
First, education seems to be the most helpful. No one likes feeling helpless and if they can educate themselves on the process and what is coming, it gives the person more control. If you did not want the divorce, it is so much harder since the control of the whole situation has been taken away from you. In that situation, it is imperative to learn as much as you can. You can read a lot online, but probably the most helpful thing to do is go in and consult with a lawyer about your rights. Things may not be as grim as you think once you have all the facts.
I’d been told by a boss of mine many years ago, that you never want to fire someone on a Friday. He said to always fire them on a Monday. The reason for the Monday firing he explained, was so that the person could do something about it right away. Go file at unemployment, or fill out an application for new employment. It feels better when you can do something about your situation. For the same reason, I encourage my clients who are seeking a divorce to tell their spouse about it on a Monday. Don’t tell them on Friday when they can’t get any information for two days. It makes your spouse crazy with worry. That may be some of my clients’ goal (to make their spouse crazy), but I always try to start the process amicably, since amicable divorces cost a lot less than heavily litigated ones.
Secret #2 – Get Healthy
If you’re going through a divorce, now is the time to get in shape. First, some daily exercise gives you something to do instead of obsessing about your divorce, and second, it will help you sleep and eat better. Getting some exercise will lead to watching what you drink and eat and feeling better both physically and emotionally. When you start feeling stronger and healthier, you are going to feel better all around.
No one will tell you that this process will be easy, but getting healthy (or in shape) will give you the control back that you’ll be craving. You’ll be in charge of something that is happening in your life. And won’t it be great when your spouse sees you in court looking all happy and healthy! It’s a win-win!
Secret #3 – Get a Therapist
We all want to share everything with our friends, but eventually, they will tire of your divorce. You want to give a blow by blow of every interaction and after a while, they will hate being around you. A person can only take so much negativity before they start drifting away.
I’m a big fan of therapy. If you are worried that seeing a therapist will hurt your divorce case, don’t. Judges realize, and even encourage the parties to see a therapist. Even people who have mental illness have children and have them the majority of the time. The key is getting the help you need.
It is better for a person to realize they need some help and to go and get it, rather than the person who clearly has a problem and does nothing about it. People don’t tell others that they are seeing a therapist, likely because it embarrasses them, but there is no reason for that. This is a big life-changing event in your life and no one should be embarrassed about getting some help to go through it. The therapist will help you get through this in a good way, and they are trained to do it. Much more so than your closest friends.
Secret #4 – Remember This is Just a Transition
Many people stay married because it is too painful to leave or they are too embarrassed to be a divorcee. Don’t let a divorce characterize who you are. There was a time when this was a stigma against you, but it is not anymore.
I’m not trying to make light of divorce and I believe people shouldn’t enter into the process lightly. But if this isn’t working for you, really, life is too short! Get out there and do something that you’ve always wanted to do.
Secret #5 – Take Your Time
Think about what you are doing before you do it. I have a lot of clients who want to rush out and close bank accounts and move their money around. I always caution against this. First, it will make your spouse scared and you’ll start an avalanche of litigation. Second, it exasperates the trust issues in your relationship with your spouse. There will already be trust issues to work on with your spouse, and the last thing you need is a further deterioration of that trust. It will make your case last a lot longer.
The divorce process typically takes many months, even with amicable divorces. There is no reason to rush out and do anything rash. Don’t sell anything and don’t buy anything. Your reasoning will not be at its best for a while, so take decisions that change your life slowly.
Divorce Isn’s Easy But It Can Be Civil
No one said that this process will be easy. It will be painful, even for the person who wanted the divorce. But if you take the divorce process as a means to move forward, to make some changes, you’ll see that it doesn’t have to alter your life forever. You might actually come out of it a better person. You can decide that instead of letting this process ruin you, you’ll look forward to the new changes and embrace them. Trust me, hanging on to all of the negative emotional baggage won’t hurt your spouse in the least, that person has already moved on. You are the only one hurting when you cannot put some kind of positive spin on this. Take control of your life and move forward, you’ll be glad you did.