There have been a lot of celebrity divorces in the news the past year. From Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, we’ve seen divorces run the gamut from shocking to expected.
There is certainly a lot to learn from celebrity divorces; there are some examples of what you should do in a divorce, and there are lots of examples of what NOT to do during a divorce. Let’s take a look at seven lessons learned from celebrity divorces over the years:
Take the high road
Taking the high road in divorce is not easy. In fact, sometimes it is quite difficult and feels downright unfair. However, trust us on this one, you’ll feel better about yourself in the long run. Fighting back, being angry and bitter and irrational ends up making YOU feel bad and is a waste of energy.
That’s not to say you should be a doormat, but let your ex be the one with the hostility and bitterness. It takes a lot of determination to take the high road, but in the end you’ll be happier and more at peace, and it will be worth it.
If you’re looking for a celebrity role model in how to take the high road during divorce, look no further than Jennifer Garner. She epitomizes taking the high road during divorce.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
You’ve probably hear the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff”. There’s nowhere this applies more than in a divorce. Time and time again, I see couples get caught up in fighting over the china, the lawnmower (yes, really!) and other things that don’t matter.
While on his deathbed, Dennis Hopper fought his estranged wife Victoria Duffy over sculptures and portraits. Really? Don’t do this.
Typically this happens because one or both can’t get over the hurt the divorce has caused in their life. My advice is always to take the ‘big picture approach’. Don’t fight just for the sake of fighting. It will cost you money and emotional energy, and leave you drained. Instead, focus your energy on the really important matters, like custody and visitation.
Don’t talk to too many people about your spouse or the divorce
Since we’re talking about sayings, here’s another one: “loose lips sink ships”. Meaning that talking about confidential things during your divorce, about your spouse, can come back to haunt you and often do.
You might be tempted to talk about your ex’s extramarital activities and indiscretions, or about details of your divorce. Even those people you think you can trust might just tell one other person, who might tell another person. Before you know it, it gets back to your ex. That usually doesn’t turn out well in a divorce proceeding.
Celebrities who fare better in divorce usually issue a joint statement and portray a united front. They don’t talk about who’s at fault and treat the matter as confidential.
Don’t let emotions override good judgment
It’s critical not to let the toxic emotions of divorce cloud your judgment. I’ve seen this happen too often, and the result typically leaves people bankrupt both emotionally and financially. It seems obvious, but making sound decisions requires a level head. A person who is overloaded with emotion will not make good decisions, most of the time.
Remember Lorraine Bracco from The Sopranos? She went through a very nasty and costly custody battle with her former boyfriend Harvey Keitel, which was drawn out for five years and basically let to Bracco filing for bankruptcy due to the overwhelming legal fees. A good example of what not to do!
Sometimes people getting a divorce will ask for things just because they don’t want their ex-spouse to have something. For example, a husband may ask for 50-50 joint custody, but works 70 hours per week and has a very heavy travel schedule. He could never exercise that joint custody, but simply doesn’t want his ex-wife to have full custody.
My best advice is to be realistic in these situations. Cases get settled much more quickly and efficiently when both parties in the divorce are realistic.
Don’t expect the court system to ‘make it all right’
This one goes along with ‘Be realistic’. Some people mistakenly believe that once the court/judge hears their story, they will be sympathetic and rule in their favor. However, this is a big mistake. It just doesn’t work this way! Courts are overworked and delays are very common. Depending on the complexity of the case, trials can take place even years away from a divorce commencement date. Don’t ever expect that the courts will fix everything, or that it will be easy and/or quick.
Long separations are usually not helpful
In most cases we’ve seen, long separations mean that couples grow further apart. One of them might meet someone else. Or, if there are issues such as how to divide assets that they can’t agree on, it becomes even more difficult down the road to resolve the issue amicably.
Once in a while, long separations are helpful because they can help you see clearer, but unfortunately reconciliation rarely happens after a long separation.