Monique Honaman, author of The High Road Has Less Traffic: Honest Advice on the Path Through Love and Divorce, weighs in.
Q: What is the “high road” when it comes to divorce?
A: Taking the high road is the family-friendly way to go and the benefits are too numerous to quantify. The high road is ultimately a way of life. It means making the elevated decisions. It’s opting to do something that may not always be the easiest choice, but is always the more thoughtful choice. It’s making decisions that will make your kids, your family, and your friends proud. It’s living your life so that you can look yourself in the mirror every day knowing that you aspire to greater ideas and ideals!
Q: Why do so many couples end up taking the low road?
A: Many divorce proceedings begin because one partner has opted to take the low road versus the high road. It then becomes too easy for the other spouse to want to retaliate at that level, to strike back with low road behavior. This downward spiral is dangerous for all involved, especially the innocent children who are caught in the middle. The high road is a more creative and productive response and a far healthier direction for all involved. The high road doesn’t involve scratching the paint off shiny red cars, swinging golf clubs, cutting holes in your spouse’s clothes, confronting the other woman, or taking out a full-page ad to share with the world what “happened!”
Q: How does taking the high road help with the long-term healing from a divorce?
A: At every decision point that life presents us with, each of us must make a very deliberate choice on how we should proceed. The decision we make ultimately defines who we are as people and as members of society. We can go negative, wallowing in a swamp of despair and dejection, and become emotionally paralyzed in a state of low-level thinking and anxiety. Or we can raise our sights and our outlook, keep our wits about us, optimize our potential, and follow a more inspired, self-affirming path. Ashley Montagu, the anthropologist, said that “Intelligence is the ability to make a successful response to a situation.” Taking the high road in life is both an intelligent and a successful response.
Q: Can you describe the connection between taking the high road in a divorce and personal happiness?
A: It holds true for me, and I’ve seen it hold true with many other men and women. There is a clear connection between taking the high road in divorce and finding personal happiness. Taking the high road means making decisions that are right for the greater good (your kids, your extended family, your friends), as opposed to making decisions that may feel good at the time (think revenge scenarios) but serve no useful purpose. Taking the high road means being able to look at yourself in the mirror without feeling any shame or embarrassment about how you acted or how you responded. Taking the high road means living out and honoring the values, morals, and ethics that are fundamental to most reasonable people. The connection is that if you know you made the right decisions, and you can honestly turn the mirror inward and look at yourself and still feel good about your behavior and actions, then that naturally leads to greater feelings of personal satisfaction and personal happiness. And, if you believe in the concept of karma, then you believe that you will get back what you put out! I’ll take the high road any day in that scenario!
Q: What’s your advice for anyone who wants to have a high-road divorce?
A: There are so many opportunities to veer off the high road because of the anger, hate and emotion that are generated like hot sparks in the flywheel of divorce, but taking the high road truly is the healthier way to go for your own sanity and for the best interests of your children. The sad fact is that most people don’t choose to take the high road, and that is why it has less traffic. The beauty of the high road philosophy is that it applies to life as a whole, not only in dealing with relationships and divorce.