Introduction: Your Divorce Mission Statement
As mediators and ADR professionals, together, with our clients, we can change the course of how divorce is handled in our culture. It’s time for peaceful divorce to be the new status quo.
I’m embarrassed that it took me 22 years of practice as an attorney and a mediator to figure out that the first step is to create a Divorce Mission Statement….for clients to decide what they wanted at the end of their divorce process and to spell it out. Not the financial or parenting settlements, but how they want the story of their divorce, and life afterwards, to read. As professionals, we can help clients set goals at the outset so they’ll be able to stay on course when things aren’t going your way because there will be plenty of temptation for clients to behave badly during their divorce. The mission statement they create with you will keep them focused, and help you help them.
Excerpt from Chapter 1: Divorce Mission Statement
A mission statement for your divorce is your compass guiding you away from conflict and toward peace. There will be many tempting distractions during your divorce. Your mission statement will keep you on track.
Your Divorce Mission Statement
Living your mission doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul of your personality. Don’t get bogged down in thinking you could’ve saved your marriage had you done something like this earlier. You’re doing it now, and that’s what counts. This is about moving forward and making sure your thoughts and behavior are in line with what you deeply care about. This will make it much easier and much less scary to let go of things that pull you off track.
If your spouse is willing to work on a mission statement with you, do it together. If not, write it on your own and consider sharing it. Your divorce mission statement should focus on your core values for dissolving your marriage and living your life afterward.
You can use the following ideas to help you write your own divorce mission statement. They are intended as a guide only, and we encourage you to make your mission statement as personal as possible. To begin, read through the ideas and choose the ones that resonate most with your core values. Choose as many as you’d like. You can use the ideas to write your own divorce mission statement, customized to fit your own situation.
At the end of my divorce, I want the following to be true:
- I was kind and honest throughout the entire process.
- My children have two supportive parents committed to co-parenting.
- We did not have to go to court to settle our divorce.
- We spent as little money as possible on our divorce, preserving assets to be split between us instead of using them to pay lawyers.
- Our financial responsibility was divided fairly.
- I still respect my former spouse and our relationship is friendly, cordial, and civil.
- I realize my marriage was not a complete mistake and value the years I was with my spouse.
- Our children understand and are reminded that our divorce is not their fault.
- I am committed to being cooperative and respectful when my spouse engages with the world as a single person (dating, working, making new friends, etc.).
- I took responsibility for any feelings of abandonment, rejection, fear, anger, grief, and guilt I had, without blaming or shaming my spouse.
I will make sure that the above statements are realized by doing the following:
- I will ask for advice from people who are a positive influence, and then follow that advice.
- I will put my children’s best interests above my own.
- I will take care of myself physically and emotionally.
- I will forgive myself and my spouse for getting divorced.
- I will focus on moving forward rather than getting bogged down in the past.
- I will accept situations rather than manipulating outcomes.
- I will focus on what is important, both short term and long term.
- I will use written goals and journaling to track my progress.
- I will not use my divorce to punish myself or my spouse.
- I will not consider divorce as something that I need to recover from, but rather as something I can heal through.
Now write up your own divorce mission statement. Refine it a few times until it feels right to you.
Do you see how writing out your mission statement will help you keep your actions in line with your goals? Once you’ve pinpointed what’s most important to you, it will be easier to make sure that the most important things are accomplished.
You may want to rewrite this mission statement periodically. You will change a lot during this process, and embracing the change in a positive way will help insure that you emerge happy, healthy, and whole.
In the next chapter, you will learn the 8 keys to resolving family conflict. This will give you a toolbox that you can start to use right away to keep you moving toward peace.