Saving Your Communities in DivorceIn a previous post I discussed that while there is loss in a divorce, many of the best things in your life can be saved in divorce if it is handled well. One of the most common, but unnecessary, losses that I see resulting from divorce is the loss of community. Communities can be many things, church communities, neighborhood communities, co-worker communities, extended family communities, social group communities, etc… These communities serve one of our most fundamental needs, the need to belong. As a result, they are crucial to our well being. Therefore, the loss of these communities can sometimes be the hardest losses to endure in divorce. The good news is that losing these communities is almost always unnecessary. Sometimes a community is highly judgmental of divorcing couples, or one of the spouses in particular, and the community chooses to end a relationship on its own. There is very little that a person can do about that. After all, we can only control our own behavior, not others’ reactions to our behavior. But, frequently these communities are lost due to the perceived level of conflict between the spouses and the group member’s discomfort with that conflict. People often feel like they have to “choose sides” because they don’t think that they can manage a relationship with both spouses due to the conflict. The discomfort of being around seething or embittered former spouses who are insulting each other or making ugly comments cause people to just avoid one or both spouses. While we as people who make up these communities can stand to find ways to be more comfortable with conflict, the reality is that saving your communities in divorce is largely up to the spouses. The best way that I know to save these community ties is to reduce the animosity and emotional behaviors in divorce. While no process can eliminate all of the difficult emotions and social awkwardness of divorce, some divorce processes are designed to manage and reduce these dynamics while others either intentionally or unintentionally increase the animosity. The less conflict and anger you and your spouse display the less discomfort your social communities will experience around you. And the more comfortable these communities are around you and your spouse, the less likely you are to lose these communities and the relationships that mean so much in your life and even the lives of your children. While no divorce process is perfect, give some thought to how important your communities are to you and your family and how you can preserve them as you move through your divorce.
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