Monday, January 18, 2010

Recipe for a Happy Divorce

In looking around the blogosphere recently, I ran across an uplifting blog post by Marie Fahnert, a Chicago divorce lawyer. She provides a "Recipe for a Happy Divorce". While no one can guarantee the outcome of a divorce, or even how the process will work out, she presents some points that strike me as eminently do-able, even if they would take some effort. I believe that if people going through a divorce gave her approach a try, they would have a much better experience going through a divorce.

Here's what Marie had to say:

"Maintaining happiness (or some semblance of it) through your divorce might not be as difficult as you think. According to scientists, the following things make us happy:
  1. Virtues: Our sense of wisdom, justice, compassion for others,
  2. Gratitude: Appreciating what we have and expressing it to ourselves and others,
  3. Savoring: Enjoying the moment and taking time to smell the roses,
  4. Engagement: Being in our activities for the experience of it ("being in the zone"),
  5. Living a meaningful life: Doing things for others and helping others.

"Studies of the Danish (the happiest people on earth) show that low expectations also make us happy. If our expectations are low, then we become happy when things go unexpectedly well. Also, Denmark's social safety net ensures people the basic necessities of life.

"How can you go through a "happy" divorce?

  1. Remember that you are in control of the things that make you happy (see 1-5 above).
  2. Approach the divorce—and the associated child-custody, division of property, maintenance issues—with realistic expectations.
  3. Reach an agreement with your spouse and litigate as few things as possible. This will save you money and—like the Danish—you won't have to worry about the basic necessities of life."
This post is very timely because I always notice an increase in filings for divorce just after the first of the year. For various reasons, people put off filing until after the holidays, and then the divorce season gets into full swing. If you or someone you know is facing a divorce, please take the time to incorporate Marie's ideas into your life. Divorce is naturally stressful and unpleasant. If you can reduce that unpleasantness, your efforts will be well rewarded.

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