The road to get to the decision to divorce is a long one. A track record of countless arguments and unbearable tension may have left you both on eggshells whenever you need to have a talk – worried that each conversation could explode into a disaster.
You might find it helpful to learn that once spouses make the joint decision to divorce, there often is a moment of clarity where they acknowledge they both want a peaceful, efficient process. And so, the question becomes a matter of how to go about doing it, and no longer the agonizing question of if.
Despite agreement on mediation being a peaceful, efficient path, your spouse might still shy away for one of two reasons: 1) don’t want to spend the money, or 2) afraid they can’t mediate or won’t get a fair settlement in mediation.
Here are a few tips to guide you along and keep conversations peaceful and productive:
Find a mutually quiet time and place with no distractions.
Get creative. You might even consider a neutral location outside the house, since the home energy could be too negative, with reminders of all the fighting. It’s likely there is also lack of privacy with kids around. A video or phone call could also work and take away some of the negative tension.
Sometimes texting or messaging is an easier way to introduce a difficult topic. Use messaging to share a link to important information you have found on divorce mediation. Be mindful, however, to refrain from anything substantive over messaging — like why you feel mediation is the best process to settle your divorce. Instead, use messaging to nail down logistics of the location/time only. Otherwise, you’ll be texting all day and glued to your phone, without non-verbal cues to guide how the conversation is going.
Email might also be a place to lay it all out without feeling like you will be interrupted. Here you can carefully construct each and every word. Consider whether this is your spouse’s modus operandi. Nowadays, there are decent apps that help you temper your language and make sure your writing sounds considerate rather than blaming or hurtful.
Ask yourself, what has worked well in the past when we needed to have a serious talk? What hasn’t worked well? Use your intuition to guide you.
Keep the focus on the children.
Your spouse will never deny that he/she is just trying to do what’s best for the children and be a good parent. Rather than gearing up for another conversation where it ends up about what he/she did wrong that led to this point, reframe to say, “At this point, we are beyond rehashing what led us here. Let’s focus on the bigger picture.” Your children are that reminder of the bigger picture.
You both recognize that you will still be communicating about your children after the divorce, so think of this conversation as practice for post-divorce. You might even consider placing a picture of your kids near you to keep you focused.
Or – Keep it All Business
It could be that issues around the kids are an area that has been of greatest tension between you, and you feel mentioning the kids only triggers emotions that lead you to put up your guard. You’ll then notice you are using a defensive tone. If that’s the case, take the children out of the equation (in your mind) so you sound matter-of-fact and calm. This goes a long way toward allowing your spouse to reciprocate and stay as objective as possible.
Understand your spouse’s perspective.
Before the conversation, you could visualize and have a practice dialogue, or practice with a trusted friend or coach. Picture your spouse in your mind as you have the conversation, Imagine their responses and listen with an open heart and mind. Notice where you feel yourself tensing up and ask why.
Digging deep beforehand will allow you to reframe your questions and keep the conversation flowing.
Offer a gentle reminder that mediation is not counseling.
One retort your spouse might have is that since counseling didn’t work, why would hiring a mediator be any different? The key difference is that divorce mediation is focused on a resolution to the end of a marriage, not saving it. This can bring relief and allow the conversations about divorce to flow much easier because there is an end in sight, and you both are looking to achieve the same outcome.
Limit the conversation time
It could be better for you to have more than one conversation. How many times have your discussions gone on for hours on end, and you’re both exhausted? Find a stopping point or allow your spouse time to do their own due diligence without you. No one wants to feel pushed into something against their will – and this will never bode well once you enter the mediation room.
Consider encouraging attending a consultation rather than committing to mediation.
All outcomes are achieved with baby steps. A micro-yes is a technique that helps someone agree to something easier or that feels within reach, and is a great way to keep the door open. It also takes the pressure off of you to make all the points. Divorce mediation is also about the actual mediator you use and the actual chance to be in the room to get a sense of the process may ultimately require no convincing at all.
While this conversation about trying divorce mediation will have many points that you wish to make, it’s ultimately about each of you listening and feeling heard. Once you are in mediation, you will have a professional there with you to facilitate, which really takes the load off of both of you.
Peaceful mediation for your divorce is your best line of defense to prevent the downward spiral of ugly, expensive legal battles. To schedule your consultation, contact me today.