It's one thing to have a decent divorce, another to maintain an on-going, positive relationship with a former spouse. The trend toward active co-parenting today means many former-weds must continue interacting with each other for years or even decades. Behaving well in divorce can be a type of habit itself—setting up ways to regulate your emotions, conjuring up empathy for your ex in the face of frustration, creating positive moments in your own life.
I'm interested in habits in general, and am very excited about the work of the wonderful author Gretchen Rubin and her book about habits, Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life. I spoke to Gretchen about habits and happiness in divorce for her website. The post went live March 1. Here's an excerpt of Gretchen's interview with me:
Q: (Gretchen) You’ve done fascinating research about divorce. What’s the most significant thing you’ve concluded?
A: (Wendy) We’re so worried about divorce—that it will damage our children forever, or destroy our lives. But what I’ve seen again and again during these past three years of research is that our actions and attitudes have a huge influence on how well our children do, how quickly we recuperate and the kind of relationship with our ex, our friends, and others, on the other side. We have far more control over our lives than we may think. We can have a great life filled with love, thriving children, and even a decent relationship with the person we married, after divorce. It’s not marriage or divorce that matters so much, but how we attend to our relationships and ourselves.
* This post originally appeared on wendyparis.com.
Wendy Paris is the author of Splitopia: Dispatches from Today's Good Divorce and How to Part Well (Simon & Schuster/Atria, 2016). Splitopia and her work on divorce have been covered by The New York Times, Real Simple, The Washington Post, The New York Post, The Globe & Mail, Psychology Today, The Houston Chronicle, Salon.com, Parents.com, Family Law Quarterly, PsychCentral.com and radio and TV shows nationwide. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and is an advocate for family law reform movement. She is divorced, and lives in Santa Monica, California, a few blocks from her former husband, with whom she has a warm co-parenting relationship.