Many of us make the mistake of thinking of divorce as a form of warfare and it certainly can feel that way. In fact our spouse may actually be at war BUT WE DON’T HAVE TO BE. This mindset shift is central to a healthier divorce, the idea that we are transforming ourselves and our relationship in this process and we can choose how we frame the process. Even if our spouse is a total narcissist, we don’t have to play by their rules, we get to choose. You are looking for solutions that allow all sides to win here, anything else is unacceptable. Think about it, if you win and your spouse loses the emotional fallout impacts the kids and vice versa. The only answer is to go for win win opr worst case everyone loses equally for the sake of the kids. If there are no children then this is a relatively easy process, and if there are children then they need to become your central focus after self care.
Get clear on what the definition of well being is for children as defined by the mental health community and be willing to let go of your preconceptions in the process. This is not to say that you should set aside your instincts or knowledge of your children, but rather be willing to look outside. If your co-parent is on the same page with you, then they will be doing the same and you can begin to arrive together at a model for joint child rearing that works in the new relationship you are creating. If your other parent is at war with you and you don’t want to fight, working with professional standards of child well being will give you more neutral ground to have a conversation on, or at the very least give your attorney the tools they need to negotiate in the best interest of the child. Think about how your children will recover from the divorce, consider getting some education on building resilience in yourself and your children.
Keeping your eyes on what is best for the children will keep you from speaking badly of the other parent (even if they have earned it). SPeaking badly of the other parent only sets children up in the middle, the last place they should be to remain as emotionally healthy as possible. It also triggers the other parent. If the other parent is trash talking you, meet your child with compassion for their position, acknowledging that the other parent must be upset to be speaking that way and particularly how difficult it must be for your child to carry those messages. Negating the criticism will just push your kid(s) deeper into the mix. Acknowledging and showing love and compassion for their position will help them heal.
In order to manage your own feelings while showing all this compassion and self control requires high levels of self care. Really life requires high levels of self care but divorce ups the ante. Get a coach, or a therapist, expand your community, eat and rest, develop your spiritual practices, have some fun and remain centered and creative in your life. Taking care of yourself is the first step to taking care of others.