At the outset, let me explain what I mean by “successful” divorce. Divorce is a painful and damaging process for the participants and their families. So by successful, I mean the least damaging, least pain inflicting, least destructive process. The level of success is measured in terms of less damage and progress toward post-divorce adjustment.
I think the key to a successful divorce is vision. You must have a sense of what your post-divorce world will look like. The more specific, the better. Greater detail will solidify and clarify the vision. Your vision must include self-forgiveness and the letting go of the pain of history. It must abound in hope and faith that you, like millions before you, can rebalance into a joy-filled, self-fulfilling, productive life. The vision must also be flexible when and where necessary. You must be ready and willing to adjust your vision when reality or a change of attitude requires it.
Unfortunately, but necessarily, the development of a post-divorce vision requires realistic self-awareness. Not everyone is comfortable going to that inner place at the very core of one’s being. We are afraid of what we will find there or worse, that we won’t like what we find. But building the vision is quite impossible without a greater degree of self-awareness. So, whether you call this process introspection, self-analysis or spirituality, it is a skill that must be established and/or refined before you can begin visioning. Therefore, I recommend taking the time to build your self-awareness foundation first.
Once visioning, take the time to explore the details of your post-divorce life. Be kind and gentle on yourself, but be thorough and complete. Once the vision takes shape you need to begin planning how to get there. This level of preparation will significantly reduce the fear of the unknown and the crisis-management attending an unplanned journey.
Interestingly, vision is also key to successful marriage, but at least one more thing is required. The vision must be shared and embraced by both partners.
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Current social science literature reports in a phenomenon labeled “grey divorce” a significant increase in divorces among couples age 50 and older. During the last two decades the divorce rate has remained basically stable for the general population. In 2010, however the rate for those 50 and above was more than 2.5 times the comparable rate in 1990. In other words in 1990 roughly 1 in 10 people 50 and older were divorced; in 2010 that ratio was one in four. The importance of this trend is even more significant given that about half of the married population is now over 50.