How “Good” Is Your Divorce?

Take this quiz and measure your ex-success

Divorce legally severs ties, but often (especially when there are children) your relationship with your ex continues on well after the ink has dried on your divorce papers. Just because you had a terrible marriage, doesn’t mean you can’t have a good divorce. In fact, with the right perspective,divorce can be a new beginning for how you relate to the person to whom you were previously married.

Mediator Sam Margulies, Ph.D. and author of Man’s Guide to a Civilized Divorce: How to Divorce with Grace, a Little Class and a Lot of Common Sense, helps couples revision their post-divorce relationships. “Because divorce is generally regarded as regrettable and socially undesirable, we tend to think of all divorce as bad and destructive,” he writes in an article for Psychology Today. “Just as there is bad divorce characterized by mutual self defeat, there is also successful divorce in which a couple has successfully negotiated a post-divorce arrangement that leaves both partners as well a s their children able to adapt to their new lives.”

Margulies contends there are seven core areas to work on when your goal is “good” divorce. How does your split stack up? Take this quiz and find out.

1. How much emotional closure do you and your ex really have?

A.There is no unfinished emotional business and both parties have disengaged from the relationship and the conflict.

B. Both parties are civil to each other. You can attend your child’s graduation together, but every now and then an old resentment surfaces.

C. Communication is best left to text messages.

D. Communication is best left to your attorneys.

2. How successful is your post-divorce social life?

A. Each party has achieved a place in the community, and/or has developed a network of friends.

B. You’re both actively rebuilding your social lives through church, your kids’ school and your work.

C. You’ve created a profile on an online dating site, but are otherwise keeping to yourself.

D. You spend your weekends and evenings binging on Netflix and Ben & Jerry’s.

3. How satisfied are you both with your divorce’s financial settlement?

A. You and your ex feel that the settlement was fair and equitable.

B. You sometimes wish you had asked for more, but overall you feel good about the settlement. OR Your ex still seems a bit bitter that you got “more” than he did.

C. You are still negotiating over who gets the wedding silver.

D. You or your ex feel taken advantage of by the divorce process. There are hard feelings.

4. How much do you trust each other now that you’re divorced?

A. You and your ex appreciate each other and always give each other the benefit of the doubt when there’s a disagreement.

B. You believe your ex in most matters, but you are still learning to trust him/her.

C. You want to trust, but still have doubts about his intentions, so you carefully document matters of money and/or custody.

D. All trust is gone. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

5. How well do you communicate with each other?

A. Both parties can communicate effectively, and their style is conducive to cooperative parenting.

B. You have times when you disagree, but mostly you’re able to resolve your differences in a civil manner.

C. There are still hard feelings, so you both rely on text messages to avoid direct communication.

D. Your communication with your ex is conducted only through your attorneys.

6. What level of mutual goodwill do you hold for each other?
A. Each person wishes the other well, and you both support the children in accepting the other’s new mate or lifestyle.

B. You are at the point in your post-divorce life where you can be happy for your ex’s successes but you aren’t quite ready to meet his new girlfriend.

C. Although you won’t admit it to him, you harbor resentment against his ability to move on and start a new relationship.

D. News that your ex is successful and happy sends you into a black rage.

7. How prepared are you to resolve future conflicts in a healthy manner?
A. Both parties have agreed to a specific manner for settling differences. But so far, you haven’t had any conflicts.

B. You are working towards developing a way to negotiate differences with the help of your attorneys.

C. You would prefer to avoid conflict altogether and just give in to whatever your ex wants.

D. If there is a disagreement about the terms of your divorce or settlement, it’s back to court you go! You have no desire to settle things amicably.

How “good” is your divorce? Give yourself 5 points for each time you answered A; 4 points for each B; 3 points for each C; and 0 points for each D.

30-35 points: Congratulations, you have found the good! You may not always see eye to eye, but you respect each other and you’ve developed ways to communicate effectively and work through your differences as you both move on to healthy new lives. Plus, your children are benefiting from your good example.

29-20 points: You’re on your way to a positive outlook. Sure, you still struggle with some resentments, but you are both trying to be respectful and do what’s best for your children. Be patient, in time you may be surprised by how amicable you and you ex have become.

19-10 points: Breaking up is hard to do, but you have a choice about how long you hold onto resentment. When disagreements arise, consider working with a mediator or marriage counselor to help you resolve the problem. Examine your triggers and patterns. If certain issues routinely stir feelings of anxiety or anger, try to determine why it’s a hot-button. When possible, take a step back from the situation before reacting in a way you might later regret. Set healthy boundaries for yourself and allow yourself to uphold them.

9-0 points: There’s a reason you got divorced. If you and your ex saw eye to eye, you wouldn’t be fighting over the wedding crystal now. You may never be best friends, but working through your conflict, anger, resentment and frustrations may help you let go of the past and move forward to a healthier future. Don’t go it alone. Tap into your professional team. Engage a professional therapist, spiritual director or counselor to help you sort through your feelings. Lean on your accountant or financial advisor to guide you through money matters. Your divorce attorney is also there to navigate disputes and help you get the best possible outcome. If you have children, consider retaining a mediator to help you and your ex settle disagreements as they arise.

Remember, no matter how contentious your relationship with your ex is now, it may improve in time. Issues that seem insurmountable are often resolved. Hurt feelings heal. Life moves on. If you don’t have a “good” divorce right now, aspiring to make it better is the first step toward achieving that goal.