I was so happy to see this great article today in Canada's largest-circulation national paper, The Globe and Mail, about how divorce is changing for our neighbors up north. "Divorcing with dignity: How modern exes are treating a split as an awakening," looks at Canadian couples who co-parent cooperatively, celebrate holidays together, and even help out with each other's laundry. I spoke to reporter Zosia Bielski when she was writing her piece, which is the most thorough and balanced piece of reporting about today's changing divorce that I've seen. As Bielski writes:
"These husbands and wives want what’s best for their kids, which is family, and they want to salvage their own sanity. Many are doing things differently because they saw the carnage of their parents’ divorces, with mom and dad not speaking or badmouthing each other in front of the kids. There are good reasons why some divorces go very badly: chronic infidelity, abuse, mental illness and addiction can make separating traumatic. But for others parting under less extenuating circumstances, divorce can be an awakening: Some people find they are better ex-spouses than they were spouses."
Bielski also spoke to Lisa MacMartin, a couples and family therapist with Montreal’s Argyle Institute. She shares MacMartin's idea that an unwillingness to grieve drives many nasty splits:
“We humans try very hard not to feel sad, and we’ll do anything to avoid that. That’s at the core of a lot of conflictual divorces: They’re avoiding really painful feelings. It’s much easier to be angry."
This idea definitely makes sense to me. In Splitopia, I profile former couples who work hard on emotional regulation and do manage to avoid letting anger and sadness dictate the tone of their divorce.
Interestingly enough, Bielski says that some people now feel the pressure to have a good divorce, and judge themselves if theirs isn't "good enough." This is the second time I've heard this idea in the past month. I find the concept of the "not good enough divorce" astonishing. When I started working on Splitopia four years ago, the idea of a "good divorce" was still outlandish to many. Today, it's an idea that has gained enough traction in our culture, that people feel badly if their split doesn't go well.
Divorce is hard enough without having to feel guilty about how you're doing it. If you're not having an "ideal" divorce, remember my Principle of Parting #1: Commit to Self-Compassion. This idea is important for those of us having a decent split, and critical for those who aren't.
* This post originally appeared on Wendyparis.com.