It is worth being clear at the beginning of this article that involved, as we are, in emotional resilience and conflict management our business is about prevention rather than cure. The same is true about Howes Percival who would rather advise you in advance and help you avoid issues than clear up the mess afterwards. It is, however, an unfortunate fact that a large proportion of our clients come to us finding themselves unable to manage the conflict in their relationship whilst going through divorce which is often a time when the relationship is most conflicted.
Divorce brings with it uncertainty. The untangling of a complex relationship brings with it many questions and often the answers appear, at least, to be floating in the ether just out of reach. Uncertainty by its very nature can be fear inducing. With fear comes the fight or flight reaction that is within us all. Unfortunately many of us have been programmed or have programmed ourselves over the years to not express fear, or other feelings of vulnerability and instead we replace these feelings with the one that gives us certainty of outcome, anger.
The key skills of listening, negotiating and looking for solutions are what are required to find some form of resolution in these circumstances. Unfortunately, these are often thrown out of the window when the “D” word is used. The anger gives us certainty. We think it protects us from our fear and it does, but it also gives us absolute certainty that the divorce and all things accompanying it will be more difficult to resolve.
Here’s some tips we would advise you to consider if you are divorcing
- Take Advice
As early as possible, take advice from a Family Law lawyer who is a member of Resolution preferably on who is qualified as a collaborative practitioner. This means they are committed to the collaborative resolution of family disputes. In other words they dispel the myth that as soon as you walk in the door the lawyer is sharpening their pens ready to send the first salvo in what will become a very expensive war of legal letters. Their members encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family – and in particular the best interests of children.
- Be a role model
How would you like to be treated? With respect, sensitivity and dignity? We are all role models whether we like it or not. Modelling others’ behaviour is one of the most powerful ways of learning. More to the point we often react to others and thus a person behaving in a considerate, principled and solutions focussed way is more likely to get a similar response from the person they are approaching. Behave towards your spouse in the way you would like to be treated.
If you have children this is doubly important. Children model the way they deal with conflict by picking up on the behaviours of their parents. What life skills would you like your children to pick up?
- Children are not weapons
Sometimes when things are not going the way we want and we feel powerless and helpless it is too easy to try and hurt the other party in whatever way we can. This is especially evident where one party feels deeply hurt and wishes the other party to experience the same level of pain. In such situations it seems a simple and easy step to start using children and access as weapons. Worse still disclosing details to your children that are designed to hurt their parent is a really simple way of hurting the children. Children are hurting enough during a divorce. Imagine the pain and fear that you are experiencing and then multiply it many times. It’s our role to create a safe environment not make it deliberately worse.
- Choose your role
Have you ever been accused of behaving like child? It’s possible you were.
A very intelligent and well researched man called Eric Berne developed a model called Transactional Analysis. In terms that I can understand we as communicators choose (consciously or unconsciously) to take certain roles in interactions we have with others. Those roles are described as that of the adult, the child or the parent. The parent can be both critical or nurturing in their role.
In all of your communications with your estranged spouse please aim to be communicating towards them and treating them as an adult and be aware of the role you choose when you respond to them.
If you chose to patronise them then you are probably in parent mode and it’s not conducive to a good outcome between two adults. Likewise if you choose to act like a child then be prepared to be criticised.
Adult to adult communication is not always easy but it does deliver the most positive outcomes and as per above set really great examples of behaviour for any children in the marriage.
- Start with the end in mind
Imagine what sort of ideal relationship you would like to have as a divorcee? A good friend of mine has a brilliant phrase. He says “I may have a failed marriage but I’m going to be a successful divorcee.” He means that he recognises for the sake of his children that he wants to have a positive and constructive long term relationship as a divorcee with his now ex-wife. By having a vision in his mind of what the relationship can be like in the future it guides his behaviours now and as a result his divorce negotiations have been civilised in comparison to many.
Finally, whatever the situation be prepared to take advice from those that know and can help and advise. You may already be aware of the close working relationship between Calm People and Howes Percival. Here at Calm People we are always open to discussing situations and what steps may be good for you. Equally Howes Percival are very clear that they wish to help Calm People’s site users and clients access the advice they need in the best way they can. This is why they have promised that you can call them for a no obligation, no cost initial discussion by phone.
If you wish to talk to Calm People call 01332 869211 and ask for Julian Hall or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
If you wish to discuss your situation with Howes Percival call Howes Percival Family Law
Direct Dial: 0116 2473596