Effective Communication Through Divorce
Divorce is hard enough without communication throwing a spanner in the works during proceedings. Spouses are angry or hurt and these strong emotions are often reflected in their choice of words. Think about your purpose with communication – to relay content or to use as a weapon to get back at a former partner. Getting into a verbal battle can bog down negotiations and prolong your case. Here are some tips for communicating more effectively to get through divorce in a better way.
Leave emotion out of communication. Treat it as you would a business one – just the facts. The innuendos and thinly veiled barbs can be triggers that set off the other person. They react to the negative words instead of to the message. Be straightforward, such as when tweaking a shared care schedule. Yes, we are annoyed with our spouse/ex, but vent to friends. Get the anger out of your system before you send that text.
In the States, there is an expression which is applicable in divorce, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” In the splitting of assets, if there is a painting that you really desire, be nice about it. Perhaps say “I really want the landscape one – what pieces would you like in order to make this happen?” Politeness will get you a lot further than angry demands in the minefield of dividing personal property. Hateful words said during divorce makes it harder to have a good relationship down the road with an ex.
Communicate directly if possible and do not use the children as messengers. Do not burden mutual friends to act as a go-between with you two. If communication is breaking down, discuss this with your solicitor as there are ways to decrease interactions. An online calendar or app lets the parents insert the kids’ activities into a schedule. Both have access to check on school events, recitals, parties and other things happening in their children’s lives. Each parent then is responsible for keeping track and cannot blame the other one for not telling them about an event. There are services where spouses/exes send e-mails to the company, who deletes the naughty words. They edit the message to get to the point in a neutral way.
Language is important in communication. Take responsibility for your feelings by using “I” statements. “I feel frustrated when you pick Maisy up late. Last week I got to the theatre after the play started and had to wait to be seated during intermission.” Show a willingness to work out the kinks. Say something like “If you are in a bind – please call me so we can figure out what to do.” Avoid using the words “always” and “never.” “You always do….” “You never are…” These are a block to effective communication.
Talk to each other
Getting a divorce changes lives in my ways and one of these is with how you discuss issues with your soon-to-be ex. Communication is a work in progress with some days being great and other times with a bit of tension. Some people I know feel it is easier to talk with their former partners after parting ways. They view their exes as friends with less baggage and issues, than they did when married. One guy brings new girlfriends to meet his ex to get her valued opinion. Others enjoy meeting up with an ex from time to time. These examples show that while speaking with a divorcing spouse now may be fraught with anxiety, it can be much easier down the road.