So you have come to the point where you both agree that it is time to seriously consider putting your marriage to rest. A green divorce is all about ethics and accountability to your selves, each other and others in your lives during this difficult time. This brings us to one of the green divorce principles regarding accountability: a green divorce is a process that is designed with sensitivity to the long lasting emotional and financial impact on the individuals involved as well as family members and the community at large.
It is also about sustainability. Sustaining and supporting relationships you have made as a couple. This is vitally important if you have children. Forcing friends and family to choose between you has a toxic impact on everyone in a profound way. It is like the affects of harmful chemicals poured into a river which cannot be measured at the time but are inevitable. Thinking carefully about how you tell others begins with what you tell yourselves and each other. You do not owe details, simply thoughtful information with the understanding that you matter and people naturally will care. It sounds like a big responsibility. It is. Commitments and contracts are not to be taken lightly. You have chosen the right way to face this difficult decision together. Deciding together how and when you will tell those in your lives.
Working together to conserve and save emotional energy, money and relationships will provide rewards for both of you.
So how do you tell your family and friends?
Hands down the most important and vulnerable people in a divorce are children. Having said that does not mean they are the first you will tell. If you are truly working together how and when you tell them will be a mutual decision taking into account many factors. Looking at the bigger picture together allows you to step back, plug in and evaluate information before you make decisions or act.
Telling your children must be done with great sensitivity, depending upon their ages and the future living situations you are both envisioning. Special care must be taken to attend immediately to their potential sense of loss. If there has been long-term conflict they are undoubtedly aware of it. That does not mean they would expect or even understand a divorce.
Even in the best of divorces it is possible that they could lose their sense of the “two of you together” which correlates with their sense of family. This sense of family and stability is essential to their emotional development. Because you are working together instead of a traumatic loss they will witness the two most important people in their lives allow change to occur in their relationship while maintaining their “two-ness” as co-parents.
If you do this right they will not lose either of you or their “sense of family”. There will still be adjustments, but you will be able to maintain the “family” that is crucial to their healthy development. Committing to co-parenting redefines your relationship, provides your children with a enduring “sense of the two of you” as co-parents and preserves your family.
Maintaining this sense of “family” involves keeping the idea of family alive with your co-parenting relationship (the “two-ness” of you) and maintaining the presence of important established relationships in their lives.
Next blog: more about how and when to tell friends and family you are separating.