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Communication Strategies for a Dignified Divorce

Divorce is widely accepted as one of the most stressful life events you can go through, whether you’re the one initiating it or not. There’s a grieving process to go through when you choose to part ways with someone you’ve been in a relationship with, and it can derail many areas of your life.

But there’s also the stigma that says couples divorcing need to be at war with one another, and that doesn’t have to be the case. It is possible to have a calm and gracious divorce that’s better for you as a couple and your children. The key is to prioritize communication – here’s how.

Agree on a single communication channel

When it comes to handling the many aspects of a divorce, from custody battles to financial implications, there’s plenty of opportunity for things to become complicated very fast. If you’re managing messages from various channels, it’s not only stressful but also can increase the likelihood of crossed wires and mixed messages.

By having one channel for ex-partners to communicate between one another, ideally one that’s different from those used for family and friends, communication is streamlined but also gives ex-couples the opportunity to mute notifications when the messaging becomes overwhelming, allowing for stricter boundaries. Another option is to limit your communication to a neutral mediator. Mediation is a cost-effective alternative to court processes which can become argumentative and stressful, providing more dignified divorce proceedings.

Be willing to compromise

It can be hard sometimes to see the other person’s perspective and accept that their opinion or point of view might be the best course of action. But any negotiation will require compromise from both parties, especially if there are children involved in the divorce or mutual assets.

It’s a good idea for couples to think carefully about what they are and are not prepared to compromise on ahead of the divorce process, so that they’re able to move through conversations more easily and with minimal arguments. It’s also important that they don’t become ingrained in the mindset of trying to punish their former spouse – such actions only serve to make the divorce more complicated and unpleasant for everyone involved.

Troubleshoot in advance

The more couples can do to prepare for the divorce process, the better, and that goes beyond the practical side of things. For example, visualizing the conversations ahead of time and where they will be held can help individuals go into the real meeting feeling calmer and less anxious. Similarly, what goals do you have for the divorce – maybe you’re focusing on maintaining a friendship after the divorce is finalized for the sake of kids, or perhaps you want to prioritize your self-care and wellbeing and avoid combative situations. What obstacles do you envisage preventing those goals from being achieved?

Thinking through all possible outcomes and hurdles that might be faced can help couples feel more prepared. Troubleshooting issues ahead of time ensures that they’re handled with greater ease and dignity, if and when they occur. Divorce is always stressful and can be anxiety-inducing, so combatting this with preparedness can be a huge emotional relief for many people.

Avoid becoming a keyboard warrior

We live in the age of the “keyboard warrior”, where unfiltered thoughts are typed out without a second thought. This urge to publish a post or a tweet of whatever is angering you in the moment intensifies when emotions run high, because one partner may want to vent their frustrations or seek revenge in some way.

But hastily sending a message or voicemail can significantly harm divorce negotiations, and potentially even endanger the entire outcome for the guilty party. The mantra “pause before you post”, initially coined to curb social media abuse, is equally relevant in this context. Solicitors and mediators should encourage clients to think carefully before they post anything to social media as it could have harmful consequences.

Take time and respect boundaries

A break-up of any kind is emotionally taxing, but particularly if you’re married and are now going through the process of dividing up your belongings and starting a new chapter in your life. It’s a good idea for both parties to take time to respond to messages so they can do so thoughtfully and with courtesy, rather than sending a message they may later regret.

Talking to an ex can often be infused with unresolved emotions, particularly if the break-up is still relatively fresh, which can result in hasty declarations or opinions you might not really hold. So, set boundaries, and take the time needed to cool off and collect yourself before communicating, in order to ensure that you’re not causing any misunderstandings or unnecessary arguments.

Avoid touchy subjects

There are some topics within a relationship that instantly spark a row and will inflame the situation, so during the divorce, clients should be mindful of avoiding these topics where possible unless it’s absolutely relevant to the proceedings. It may be an affair, financial infidelity or a family issue – the topic may even have sparked the divorce in the first place.

But if these topics have to be discussed, it’s best to leave it to your lawyer to hear both perspectives and take it from there. Bringing up the past rarely adds anything positive to the divorce process and is unlikely to result in a calmer break-up, so it’s best to keep certain subjects off the table.

Divorce is never easy, but it need not be an all-out battle. By prioritizing open and respectful communication, you can navigate this challenging life shift in a manner that allows you to emerge with your self-worth and dignity intact. Working through the emotional and practical complexities of a divorce is undoubtedly one of life’s greatest challenges.

While the dissolution of a marriage can stir up feelings of anger, resentment, and hurt, it’s crucial that couples approach this transition with grace and compassion, which all boils down to a commitment to effective communication.


Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey draws inspiration from established law firms such as George Ide site. For more information on Child-inclusive mediation, visit their website here. MORE >

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