As stressful as going through a divorce is, it doesn’t have to be characterized by constant conflict and communication breakdowns. Here are some suggestions on how you and your spouse can navigate your divorce proceedings while maintaining open and effective communication.
- Listen to Understand, Not to Respond: One of the fundamental principles of effective communication is to listen actively. It is essential to focus on understanding your spouse’s perspective rather than immediately formulating a response. This shift in mindset can help reduce misunderstandings and defuse potential conflicts.
- Choose the Right Time for Conversations: Not all conversations should be held outside of mediation. Some couples tend to turn every discussion into an argument. In such cases, it might be more productive to save certain issues for mediation sessions, where a neutral third party can facilitate the conversation.
- Create a Suitable Environment: When engaging in discussions outside of mediation, you should have the right environment. Both you and your spouse should have the time and focus to devote to the conversation. Ensure that distractions are minimized, make sure that children are well out of earshot, and find a quiet, private space to talk.
- Don’t Get Stuck in Conflict: If a conversation starts to veer into a heated argument or becomes unproductive, you need to recognize when to pause. Avoid going down the well-worn path of conflict and instead suggest addressing the issue during the next mediation session. This prevents discussions from spiraling into negative territory.
- Celebrate Productive Conversations: For couples who can engage in productive conversations, it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate success. Effective communication outside of mediation can make the divorce process more efficient, saving both time and money. Furthermore, it sets a positive precedent for future interactions, especially if you will continue to co-parent or maintain some level of connection post-divorce.
Effective communication during a divorce is absolutely possible and it can allow for a smoother transition into your separate lives. By focusing on understanding, selecting the right conversations, creating a suitable environment, avoiding unproductive arguments, and celebrating successes, you can indeed communicate constructively throughout the divorce process. Remember that divorce is a challenging journey, but with the right communication skills, it can be a step toward a more peaceful and cooperative future.
Ivan Alter is an experienced Westchester County Mediator. For more information, or to schedule a consultation call (914) 861-2400 or visit www.ivanalter.com. Our office is located at 118 N. Bedford Rd, Suite 100, Mount Kisco, NY 10549