I'm thinking of starting a movement: Divorce With Integrity. It's a radical thought, isn't it? Approaching the termination of your marriage with the same good intentions and fair-mindedness as when you entered it. And if anything, once we have children, don't we have more at stake? Shouldn't our status as parents compel us to act like responsible adults?
I would love to put the for-profit Divorce Industry out of business.
I would love to put all the bureaucrats that chase down child support payments on permanent furlough, or better yet, retrain them as educators and physician assistants and childcare workers and companions for our elders.
I would love to wipe out the need for boxes of receipts and reminders, as parents prepare for yet another custody battle or legal action to modify support.
I would love to encourage more couples to learn to communicate clearly before and during marriage. In fact, I would support classes in communication skills in middle and high schools that would pave the way for the interpersonal communication we need as adults.
Imagine if the only issues involved in divorcing were those to do with licking our wounds, coming to understand why our marriages didn't work out, and helping our children make the adjustments needed to their parents living separately. Aren't those tasks Gargantuan enough?
What would Divorce With Integrity look like?
Perhaps you've already experience it, if:
- You and your ex-spouse put your children's needs first
- You and your ex-spouse used mediation successfully
- You and your ex-spouse used attorneys focused on resolution rather than maximizing billable hours.
Perhaps you already live life after Divorce With Integrity if:
- You communicate clearly with your ex on parenting and financial matters
- You demonstrate respect and clear communication, which your children will emulate
- You do not engage in parental alienation
- You do not stand in the way of your ex moving on with a new romantic partner or spouse.
This Brave New World sketched out here - however superficially, idealistically - would be my dream for all of us, and more importantly for our children. Isn't this what we would want if they are ever face the terrible realization that they have done all they could in their marriages, but they aren't going to last?
And naturally, if they find themselves in an abusive situation, they would nonetheless have recourse to assistance and to fair handling.
Of course, where emotions are involved, we may be hard-pressed not to want to get even. Betrayals of any type are wounds that cut deep; infidelity leaves us shredded; abuse makes us smaller and impairs our judgment.
Yet the bottom line is this, as I see it:
- We do need professionals of all sorts to assist us in the termination of our marriages at times. Unlike taking our vows, we are no longer dealing from a happy or measured place.
- The very reason(s) that we are divorcing indicate turmoil, dysfunction; some inability to continue living together as a family. From these challenging emotional and logistical situations, we need assistance of many sorts - for ourselves and our children.
For couples who sense they are in trouble, what if we made counseling available - and without stigma? What if we provided more therapeutically inclined tools to assist them in communication, sexuality, or other issues causing stress in the union? How many marriages might be strengthened rather than dissolved?
And if we cannot save what we have built, imagine that under usual circumstances, neither family courts nor attorneys would fan the flames of high conflict, nudging us into ever increasingly adversarial positions. I see no integrity in this and surely no upside for our children.
And the "My Happiness At All Cost" crowd? What if we considered "Our Happiness" as an alternative?
If divorce is inevitable, and at times it is, then instead of DWI, Divorcing While Infuriated, or DWI, Divorcing While Intimidated, or the one-way decision with no regard to the other, DWI, Divorcing With Impunity - what if we truly could make strides to Divorce With Integrity?
Why Is Straight Talk in Relationships So Damn Hard?
Is Telling the Truth Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation: Not to Be Taken Lightly
Mediation: The More Attractive Alternative