At least make a success of the divorce! Six steps how to divorce successfully.

January 24, 2016 Gustav Gous

At least make a success of the divorce! Six steps how to divorce successfully.

-          by dr Gustav Gous


It is a great achievement to make a success of a divorce. It can be done.  I urge you: If the two of you, for whatever reason, couldn’t make a success of the marriage, then at least make a success of the divorce.  How? Here are six suggestions to help you.


Remember:  It takes 2 to tango. It takes two people to make a success of a marriage. But weird as it sounds: It also takes 2 people to make a mess of a divorce. If one partner refuses to partake in a messy divorce, then it at least makes it difficult for the culprit to continue his/her antics.


OK, I admit, I know that if your partner was an easy customer, you would have still been married to him/her. But it just takes  just a little bit of common sense to realise that the best thing to do is to divorce successfully – for the sake of both partners, and the especially for the children. If for nothing else – do it for the children.But how?  


Here are the 6 steps:


Step 1:  The first step is not to divorce if you shouldn’t.

Step 2:  Call it a day if you have to and do the mature thing: Commit to divorce successfully

Step 3:  Go for a fair deal legally. 

Step 4a: Divorce emotionally and on six more levels  -  not just legally.  

Step 4b: Maintain your parental role.  

Step 5. Do successful transition: A new beginning begins with an ending.

Step 6. Become 100% whole again.




Step 1:  The first step is not to divorce if you shouldn’t. Think twice:  The implications are huge.  Most people divorce too early – they could have sorted out issues. Some divorce too late. So go for counselling first before you make a big decision.  So many people come to me 5 or 10 years after a divorce and say: ‘If I knew what complexity I had to manage afterwards, then it would have been easier just to stay married and go for good counselling. If I worked half as hard as I have to do currently in the new relationship, then we could easily have made a success of our relationship’.  It is important to see a coach to help facilitate a good decision-making process.  Divorce or not – make sure to make a good decision.  I usually ask couples in my consulting room what kind of counselling they are here for:  

(i)                  Marriage counselling?  [where both want to continue, but just don’t know how.] (Then is we work on it. Where there is a will, there is a way.)

(ii)                Decision making counselling?  [Where one or both parties need serious information or assurances first in order to make a good decision], (Then we set a limited time frame to gather all necessary information for a good decision), or lastly

(iii)               Divorce Counselling?  [Where one or both parties made up their minds to go through with the divorce].  Even then,  I ask them to think it through for another 40 days before they initiate divorce procedures, because of the severity of the decision.  


Step 2:  Call it a day if you have to and do the mature thing: Commit to divorce successfully.   Accept that it didn’t work out and appeal to the other party to do the mature thing – to jointly divorce successfully. Agree to let go and set each other up, not for failure, but for separate futures.  And if you do not feel like it now – grow up and get with the programme: do it for the sake of the children. You will thank yourself in future for doing it (and you may even gain the respect of your children and peers). The alternative is to make it a war – to prove a point. But remember: War doesn’t determine who is right; it only determines who is left. 


Step 3:  Go for a fair deal legally.  Some are so emotionally traumatised, that

(i)                  they either fail to protect themselves and do not stand up for their fair share, or

(ii)                they want to annihilate/clean out the other person, out of sheer hatred.

Mature people realise that a fair deal is the only sustainable deal. A compromise is a 50/50 deal. There is no honour in taking from another person, what is not rightfully yours.  Even if you are married outside of community of property (without accrual) – then you must still make sure that your partner gets a fair deal.  Ask your lawyer to advise you on what is a fair deal in your circumstances, balancing the scales of ‘blindfolded Lady Law’.  See the letter of the law as a guideline, not the final word.  You must also live with your conscience afterwards.  


Step 4a:  Divorce emotionally and on six more levels  -  not just legally.   When you get married, your lives get intertwined and intermingled on a number of levels. A good divorce is to untangle all of this. If you are married, then you are married. If you divorce – then do it properly. There are no half measures. Go big or go home.  You must divorce or untangle yourself on the following levels:


(i)                  Physically: You are physically not responsible for this person any more. Sex with the ex is so past time.

(ii)                Emotionally: You do not find your emotional wellbeing with this person any more. Take it away and invest your emotional energy  elsewhere.

(iii)               Geographically:  When you got married, you started to share square meters.  Get out of each other’s space. Separate. Stay on your own.

(iv)              Financially:  Separate financially, except for the legal obligations in the divorce settlement. If you have to pay certain amounts – then pay it diligently.  Do not withhold it, or use it to manipulate the other party. No respect if you do not keep your obligations.

(v)                Spiritually. You are not spiritually responsible for this person any more.  Go to the place/church/venue where you got married, and hand this person over back into the hands of the Living God. Then, listen to this,  even stop praying for this person.  God is now responsible for this person and will support or sort this person out. Handing him/her back to God is the best/ scariest thing you can do. God has a way to support but also correct a person on the wrong track.  He/she is in anyway in better hands when delivered into the hands of God. Release the person also spiritually.

(vi)              Family-in-law:  Sad to say – but you didn’t marry the family-in-law. Only keep a friendly relation where there was a real good connection, but please live forward into a new possible family instead of clinging to the past.

(vii)             Children: this is the only level where you cannot divorce from your responsibility.


Step 4 b:  Maintain your parental role.   Men and women can divorce totally, but fathers and mothers never. You must maintain this one connection:  The biological bond to your children.  Be there for your children at all important occasions – even though you don’t have to act as a couple.  Commit to make smooth weekend hand-overs from one parent to another according to the legal arrangement.  Don’t badmouth your spouse with your children.  Be open and frank about the good and bad points of your ex – and assure your children that they always have the perfect example in their parents: On the one hand parents show children what to do, and on the other hand they set the example on exactly what not to do. In all things: You are an adult: Now act in an adult manner for the benefit of your children. Children roll their eyes very often in my consulting room about the childish behaviour of their parents.  


Step 5.  Do successful transition: A new beginning begins with an ending.   Manage your post-divorce life well.  A new beginning does not begin with a new beginning – but with an ending.  Make the transition. Transformation is the new legal reality. Transition is the emotional process you must go through to come to terms with the new reality.  Heal the past, to be free to live the present, to be able to create a new future for yourself.  The linear change-management model can serve as a guideline: Successful transition is a three-step process like the story of old of the Exodus out of Egypt: 


(i)                  The old situation that didn’t work (Egypt = slavery ). The deep waters you go through during the divorce (the Red Sea) does not mouth you out into the promised land but into the desert …

(ii)                The desert where the sun is scorching and the nights are cold.  In the desert you must rid yourself from the past.  You are out of Egypt, but you must get Egypt out of you, and stop longing back to the fleshpots of Egypt.  You must cry your tears and make your photo albums and put a full-stop behind the old chapter. In the desert you must also get clear guidelines and a vision for the future (the 10 commandments and the faith that there is a promised land waiting).  You do not have to remain in the desert forever (40 years)  and eventually die there, like so many divorcees do. My experience is that the shortest possible time for the emotional transition, is 12 months (the first birthdays/Christmas/etc.  on your own).  A new relationship can be an oasis – just make sure that you do not confuse an oasis for the promised land.   Then you have to take a leap of faith and go through more deep water (the Jordan river) to enter into the promised land  … 

(iii)               The Promised land, the new reality – your rightful new future. The promised land is not necessarily a new relationship, but can also be a state of being happily single!  There is new life after anything – even divorce.


Step 6 . Become 100% whole again.  Make sure to go for counselling to become whole again, and also for pro-active coaching to get a life plan for your future. (Life reconstruction seminars presented monthly in different cities in South Africa, and in different parts of the world.  Enquire at )  Make sure that you are whole again before you decide to settle into a new relationship. If you marry - make sure to marry a whole person. Two broken people cannot build a wholesome relationship. 


Take these six steps with the help of a good coach or counsellor, and you stand a chance of making a success of your divorce, and the new chapter waiting for you.



If you want to enquire to purchase a full program on the Six steps how to divorce successfully., then send an email to  . It is a document both ex-partners can work through separately with a suggestion on how you can then get together and reach an agreement to divorce successfully.



Disclaimer:    Important notice to you as the reader:  Although the life coach (dr Gustav Gous) provide certain recommendations, the sole and final responsibility for decision-making remains your own and that the life coach or anybody associated to him and his company Short Walk Seminars Pty Ltd cannot be held responsible for any of your choices and reactions. You, the reader, must take full responsibility for your life, reactions and choices.   




Dr Gustav Gous  is an International Motivational Speaker and  Executive Life Coach with experience on 5 continents. In the past he was the in-house counselor for the petro-chemical company Sasol for 9 years. He focuses on all the inner and inter-personal processes necessary to conduct good business. He is known for his Transformational leadership 

programmes on Robben Island, titled the “Short Walk to Freedom”. He is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and past President of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa and a member of the APSS (Asia Professional Speakers Singapore).  Currently he is heading up the Diversity Intelligence Institute, specializing in rolling out Diversity Intelligence interventions for international companies. He is the CEO of Short Walk Seminars Pty Ltd.

He is also the specialist Life Coach on national radio in South Africa; RSG FM100-104 : Programme: Fit for Life / Fiks vir die lewe. 

Contact his office: +2712 3455931  Office hours 08:00 - 13:30 South African Time. (CAT) , ,


Follow him on Twitter: @GustavGous  or on Facebook and LinkedIn .