Marriage is tough, and there’s every indication that it actually gets harder to stay married over time. While only 20% of marriages end within five years, a whopping 48% of couples will call it quits within 20.

While splitting up is not exactly easy under any circumstances, you can have a relatively peaceful divorce if you remember these three things: Cooperation, communication and mediation.

Cooperation means finding common ground

Even if the only thing you and your spouse agree on right now is that you want your marriage to be over, that’s common ground on which you can build. An uncontested divorce, as opposed to one that has to be litigated, can be faster (and less expensive). If you’re parents, the desire to minimize the stress of the divorce on the kids could be a good place to start.

Communication means both articulating your desires and listening

Once you find a common goal, you need to open a dialogue that’s respectful and honest. This means remembering that nobody can know what you’re thinking unless you tell them and learning to engage in active listening as your spouse expresses their wants and needs. Instead of viewing each other as adversaries, try to see yourselves as business partners who are working together to solve some problems. Be mindful of the language you use, and avoid derogatory comments, little “digs” about the past or your spouse’s character and accusations.

Mediation can help keep everything on track

Mediation involves hiring a third-party neutral to help you work through the divorce process and iron out the details of your split. The mediator helps facilitate communication between the two parties and guides the negotiations until the couple can reach a voluntary agreement that they can both accept. Mediators are also pros at helping establish boundaries during discussions that can make it easier to manage the emotions of the situation.

There are a lot of benefits to a non-contentious approach to divorce, particularly if you hope to preserve any kind of civil relationship with your ex-spouse for the future or just want to protect your own peace. Seeking guidance from a lawyer who isn’t a “shark” is a good way to get started.

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