The political climate isn't just affecting the daily lives of Americans, but it's affecting how people behave in divorce court, too, according to a recent study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). Although divorce has never been a walk in the park, the study by the AAML found that those waters in the White House, the ones that aren't getting drained after all, are definitely creeping into divorce courts and it's less than subtle, with 41 percent of AAML members reporting that the current political climate in the U.S. has made divorces even more hostile than they were before. It seems animosity is contagious after all.
“It really seems to be in our culture, where interactions are getting increasingly vicious,” John Slowiaczek, president of the AAML, tells Bustle. “As a result, many people don’t leave this sense of anger and conflict outside of the home when they return at the end of the day. What we see in politics is unfortunately similar to what we are seeing in society and our homes. Collegiality seems to be on the decline in many aspects of our daily lives.”
Whether or not you're headed to divorce court any time soon, here are seven things you might want to know.
1. Contentious Divorce Cases Are On The Rise
According to a whopping 54 percent of divorce attorneys, the number of "contentious divorce cases" has increased drastically in the last couple years. It seems that the ability to work together, something we're also seeing between the two parties in Washington, is just non-existent.
2. Divorcing Spouses Are More Hostile
Again, divorce is never fun. It's often wrapped up in betrayal, disappointment, and other messy things that can make it extremely difficult to have an amicable end to a marriage. The study found that 52 percent of divorce attorneys reported that their clients have become far more hostile recently. Yikes.
3. People Seem To Have Lost Control
In keeping with the realization that society, in general, is on the decline Slowiaczek also notes that what impulse control people had, has gone out the window. "Overall, impulse control is not what it used to be," explains Slowiaczek. "We often accept bad behavior as the norm, and in some ways, we might be actually encouraging it. People have also lost some of the abilities to be cordial and respectful in regular interactions with others."
4. Betrayal Can Lead To Acceptance
As someone who was betrayed in her marriage, I know forgiveness isn't easy. In fact, it can be impossible. But, as Slowiaczek points out, from the ashes of betrayal can come acceptance, if you look at it the right way. Acceptance is where you'll find piece.
"The person who has been betrayed needs to examine the relationship and the specific situation further," suggests Slowizczek. "This will help provide a deeper understanding of why the betrayal took place. If you can analyze why the person acted inappropriately, it often becomes easier to accept that it is the other person’s issue and shortcoming and not yours."
5. Assuming The Worst Gets You Nowhere
According to Slowiaczek, all too often spouses assume that their soon-to-be ex has "improper" motives, but doing that isn't just counterproductive, it can put your head into spinning motion.
"We often attribute negative motives to occurrences outside of our control," says Slowiaczek. "You need to step back and ignore the negativity and focus on the bigger picture." In other words, focus on the end goal, putting your assumptions aside.
6. Listening To Your Attorney Is Key
"Listen to your attorney and therapist," says Slowiaczek. "Take your time and understand that things won’t feel better right away. It can take months or sometimes years to really get back to normal. Don’t focus on the negatives, don’t focus on why the other person is bad. Instead, focus on why you are good."
7. You Need To Let Yourself Feel
As my therapist tells me over and over and over, emotions are meant to be experienced and not avoided. Because of this, feelings shouldn't be ignored; you should allow yourself to feel and acknowledge why you're feeling this way, especially when your divorce is complete.
"Give yourself permission to feel sad about the loss of your relationship," advises Slowiaczek. "Afterward, the healing process will begin to help you get back to normal during the course of following months and years. Keep in mind that the divorce really needs to be concluded before the healing can be begin."
When it comes to divorce, more than anything, it's important to realize you're not alone. You're not the first person, nor will you be the last person to ever get divorced. But you, no matter the reason behind the end of the marriage, you can make the most of — you can be better than those who spend their time in divorce court slinging mud. You did love that person once, even if you're trying to forget that fact. To quote Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." He's one doctor that I trust entirely.