As an experienced mediator and a divorced dad, I am always looking for new insights on how to ease this process for my clients. I belong to The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP), a professional organization that helps us practitioners constantly improve our skills. In the midst of the stress of separation and divorce, it can be very tough to see the larger picture. Here are some ideas from a recent article on how couples can try to tap into their best selves to work together on resolving their family’s issues:
- Reasonable expectations
- Willingness to listen to the other spouse
- Willingness to participate
- Prefers privacy
- Willingness to reach a mutually fair, win-win resolution
- Motivation to take on this hard work
- Ability to cooperate
- Commitment to sharing all relevant information
- Ability to acknowledge fault
- Willingness to take responsibility for past and current choices
- Preference to resolve the issues together, rather than having a judicial resolution imposed
- Comfort (or at least tolerance) of the stress of being on same room discussing hard topics
I also love seeing these additional characteristics. Although they are not essential, they are very helpful:
- EMPATHY: Is there genuine care for the other person, despite the difficult history that may have led to this point?
- RESPECT: Even if a marriage is ending, does the couple have respect for the other and their years together, despite the current hurt and disappointment?
- OPTIMISM: Does at least one partner feel some hope that this hard transition can lead to a better future for him/her and the entire family?
- OPENNESS: Can we acknowledge the emotions involved in this process? These may include anger, sadness, frustration, fear, and even love.
To be clear, it’s absolutely possible for couples to have a relatively reserved (even cold), business-like approach and still have a peaceful divorce. This type of settlement is preferable to one that involves open distrust and lengthy and expensive legal proceedings.
But when a couple brings the as many of the above traits to the process as possible, they can go beyond mere settlement to arrive at something deeper: a true resolution of their issues. And true resolution not only provides some healing, it also helps clear the deck for the next phase of their lives.