I had a good divorce, as good as it can get, and because my ex and I had an incredible counselor, we ended up building a great relationship together as co-parents to our three amazing children.
I’m sharing the experience with you hoping that it helps some people, especially since there don’t seem to be many good resources out there.
Maybe I’ll write a book called, Happy Divorce. Maybe…
As a young Navy guy, I did wish there were better resources and advice on marriage, and counseling. There are very few resources out there. And talking about marriage counseling or divorce is still a bit taboo, unfortunately.
If I were president for a day I’d forbid any person from being married until after four years of service. The military pays you more to be married, so it creates a financial incentive for young kids in love to tie the knot. Who doesn’t want more pay and to live off base?
It’s what happened to me. I met and fell in love with a great woman for the first time and we rushed into marriage eyes wide shut. Years later we realized we were different people with different plans for the future and decided to part ways amicably as possible. Thankfully we had an amazing psychologist guide us through the divorce.
So here are my three tips for marriage counceling.
Make sure both of you are 100 percent committed to the process, hold what’s said in confidence, and respect each other’s point of view.
If you listen to anything listen to this tip.
Know what you’re getting yourselves into. There are all sorts of “counselors” out there with training ranging from a few weeks to decades. Buyer beware. Here’s a great link for sorting through the different types so you understand what’s being marketed to you.
Not all marriage counselors are created equal. Pay for the best, it will save you in the long run, the extra money for a counselor who has an MD or Ph.D. (in psychology) is well worth it.
I ran into a ton of really bad ones. It’s shocking to find how easy it actually is to become a marriage “counselor” on a search engine. Go ahead try it out after reading this.
My best friend’s ex was a marriage counselor and as toxic as a swim in a Chernobyl retention pond. She was divorced with three kids, lost custody to them because of multiple drunk driving tickets, abused both prescription drugs and alcohol, and masked it all with an obsessive CrossFit habit. And there she was, dishing out the marriage advice Monday through Friday as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Crazy, right?!
Thankfully my friend caught this before he compromised his own career or reputation.
There is absolutely no substitute for an MD or Ph.D.
Look for a counselor that is also in a successful relationship. You wouldn’t take financial advice from a homeless person in Grand Central Station and you shouldn’t take relationship advice from someone that isn’t in a successful relationship.
I spent years on and off with different counselors and once I found one with an MD it was a game-changer for us both.
We ultimately decided it was best for us to split up (sometimes it is) but because this was done with a professional’s help we both had great coaching on how to have a good divorce.
Some key takeaways here on my divorce:
Make the lawyers work for you, not the other way around.
The legal system around divorces is terrible in most states and encourages couples to fight. Decide on what works for the both of you in the form of an agreement. Both of you pay one lawyer to draft up the agreement you both decide on.
Keep your parents out of it. They love both sides and will encourage a fight. Eventually, both our parents became very supportive once they saw the example we set and how we treated each other with kindness.
Have your attorney seal your divorce for privacy. Or else it’s a public record and can be searched online. I know, it’s a terrible thing to think about but get it sealed.
Don’t weaponize your kids by talking poorly of your former partner. These are your kids and you can’t change their mom or dad. Sometimes it’s just one parent that has to take the high road here but if both can do it your kids will be much better off.
We always put our children first. This was our default mode and worked very well for us.
We are now both living happy lives and are incredibly grateful for having an experienced (and married) MD in our corner when we divorced.
Hope this helps, if you have any of your own experience to share please comment below.
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