“Take the high road.” That gets said a lot, and of course it’s good advice for all of us, but it’s truly the best way to operate for someone going through a divorce – especially because, too often, that’s not a person’s first instinct.
It’s not about turning into a saint, but it is about really understanding the need to be a “class act” during an incredibly tough time, one that ought to be seen as sad for all concerned. It means being honest and fair-minded, and as good a human being as you reasonably have it in you to be – despite how justifiably upset you are. And yes, it’s hard.
And yes, it’s partly a “performance,” because there is a relentless desire to howl – in outrage and despair – and to strike back, not just receive the blows.
Anyone newly facing divorce, might reasonably fear that taking the high road means being passive, not willing to “fight,” and then worry that it can be seen as, and even actually be, weakness, or a character flaw that invites scorn and further aggression.
True enough – there’s no guarantee your “ex” will take the high road, or even that anyone else is noticing closely enough to appreciate what you’re doing, and it’s impossible to totally rule out the possibility that something bad might happen because you weren’t in “all out war” mode yourself.
What taking the high road essentially communicates is that you at least take your own life seriously, and that you don’t want to – down the road – look back at this major life crisis, and cringe at how you managed yourself.
Now, I haven’t mentioned kids or money deliberately, because too often they become the excuses for why someone wanted to take the high road but “couldn’t.” The reality is, taking the high road generates personal benefits beyond the now. It’s a commitment to emotional health.
It doesn’t mean not defending yourself against attacks or falsehoods, (in fact, you must defend yourself) but it does mean the way you do it shows values and boundaries. And doing so would mean you’ve achieved something most people never do – a successful “grip,” executive control of your thoughts and feelings – and it was accomplished in the midst of a very difficult, emotionally-charged situation.
That’s no small thing, in fact it’s an impressive, admirable personal achievement, that will serve you for the rest of your life. On top of that, it can be a “learning,” even transforming, experience that actually puts you on a path to be eligible for that ever-elusive goal – true human happiness.