Divorcing with dignity

Divorcing with dignity will help you move on to a new, happier life

The sudden and rancorous end to Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s 15-month marriage is being played out in the tabloid press across the world. The lurid allegations and counter-claims make for depressing reading.

It is always sad when a relationship breaks down – especially when it unravels in the full glare of the media spotlight – but when the dissolution of a marriage involves one or both parties ‘dishing the dirt’ on one another, a sorry situation becomes a much darker one.

I’m not going to comment specifically on the Depp-Heard divorce, but this very public and acrimonious parting of the ways is a timely reminder of how important it is to retain your dignity in difficult times.

There are all sorts of reasons for wanting to go public – whether that involves feeding stories to the press (if you’re famous) or posting comments on social media (if you’re Joe Bloggs) – but however tempting it might be, it is rarely a good idea.

You might imagine criticisms, accusations and and recriminations against your ex will make him or her look bad, yet the person who’s likely to come out looking worse is you.

Your allegations may be true; your anger might be justified, but the chances are that you will come across as bitter, pitiful, financially grasping or even simply childish.

By deciding to wash your dirty laundry in public, you force friends and acquaintances into taking sides; even worse, you force your children to do the same.

Even if your estranged partner has behaved badly – even committed a criminal offence against you – it is always better to talk to your divorce lawyer rather than the world.

The more dignified you remain throughout the process of separation and divorce, the easier you will find it to hold your head high and look your ex in the eye, knowing you’ve done nothing ill advised or malicious.

If you have children or stepchildren, it is important to remain on civil terms with your former spouse. One day you will need to stand beside them when your children graduate, get married or have their baby christened. Behaving well now will make those sorts of encounters less tense and unpleasant for all concerned.

What is perhaps most crucial, though, is that retaining your dignity and resisting revenge will help you recover more quickly from the bruising business of divorce. Bitterness and bile will eat you up and you’ll become mired in the past. Conversely, behaving impeccably will make you proud of yourself, which in turn will bolster your self-respect and allow you to move more quickly into a new, happier chapter of your life.