“The Good Karma Divorce” (Part 1)*

,As those of us who have been divorced know, there is no right side in divorce.  There is his side and your side and never the two shall meet.  When we talk of divorce we talk of loss, anger, betrayal, hurt emotions, resentment, failure, suffering and often depression. Although I believe the greatest of these feelings is loss, the way most of our feelings are manifested is through anger.  During divorce, couples “… do not realize that their anger will destroy them. … They have no idea of the extent to which anger and resentment will injure those around them, as it has already damaged their own hearts, souls and destinies.”

One of the problems with anger is that anger leads to blaming. When we start blaming someone we are really looking for a determination of fault and an allocation of guilt. And when we determine guilt we often move into a penalizing mode, not a resolution mode.  “It is impossible to blame and resolve simultaneously.  If we choose blame repeatedly. we become progressively more powerless.”*

We are all familiar with those feelings of anger. We are angry because we think we have failed one of life’s most important experiences. “Physicians, sociologists, theologians, psychologists and philosophers all agree that divorce is one of life’s greatest stressors, second only to the death of a mate or a child.”* We want to lash out, in particular with our ex, but often our anger is redirected to our children, friends and/or family.  We know we feel bad, but we do not know how to make ourselves feel better.  We do not want to be angry, but we can’t seem to stop ourselves.

This is where the concept of “karma” comes in.  Karma implies “good action.” If you consider that every action, good or bad, creates a reaction, why not allow good karma or “good actions” to be your guiding principle in divorce?  Are you laughing?  Consider this: instead of viewing divorce as a life failure, you take an alternative view that ” divorce is just a destructive event or experience which is the prerequisite to the attainment of enlightenment”.  In other words, it’s a crisis which presents the opportunity to remove a blockage impeding you to further  your life’s purpose.* So if you are angry with your ex, what do you think his reaction will be? But if you choose to view your divorce as a learning experience, then all your actions will be positive ones and the reactions will be positive as well.

If “…choosing a path with opportunities to build courage, compassion and strength appears to require a fortitude you do not feel you can marshal…” at this time, then be patient.  Keep the idea at the back of your mind, and eventually the time will come.  In the meantime, there is one small step you can take toward “good actions” and that is to stop criticizing your ex.  Criticism creates cracks in even the strongest of relationships.

“The heart, like a grape, is prone to delivering its harvest at the same moment it appears to be crushed.”            Poet Roger Housden

When we criticize we must ask ourselves why.  At first it might not seem obvious. Let’s say we are critical of our spouse because they do not bring the children home at the appointed time. So we say something nasty or threatening, like maybe you’ll have to take him/her back to court. Now I want you to really think about what is going on here.  Was your spouse late because of traffic or because he/she got caught behind a school bus? Or do you think your spouse is basically lazy and will never get the children home on time?  Or, is there perhaps a deeper issue?  Maybe you’re afraid that he won’t bring the children home at all?  It’s when you confront your worst fears that you are able to gain a more logical view of the situation.  It is highly unlikely that he will not bring the children back to you.  He is a child of the court as much as you are. As for the other possibilities, being late because of traffic or general laziness, at least you know that those are real possibilities.  So why criticize?  Why not be grateful when they get home and let your  ex-spouse off the hook.  Your ex- spouse may just improve his/her habits because of it. “The art is not acting on your emotions at first impulse.  Our emotions are not solid or fixed. They are fluid and can change.”* So, before you criticize take a deep breath and ask yourself  what you hope to accomplish and if criticism will help you get to your goal.

Judge Michele Lowrance, The Good Karma Divorce (New York, Harper Collins, 2010)