Divorce Myth no.3
"He/she have become completely unreasonable
so mediation won't work"
True or False?
This is the myth that really annoys me the most. EVERYONE is unreasonable and sometimes a little bit mad when going through divorce (or everyone I know, anyway). Family breakup and divorce is one of the most traumatic, horrible experiences a person can go through, and feeling anger, pain and grief are all natural human reactions to the process. Deal with the emotions first, and then let the brain kick back in to play.
True or False?
Well it's just false! But so easy to believe at the time! This is why I believe that getting psychological and emotional help through the divorce process is so important. Whether that be coaching, counselling, joining a badminton club or learning how to meditate - dealing with your head and your heart comes first. Otherwise, non-adversarial routes through divorce and breakup such as mediation and collaborative law won't be able to help you as effectively.
I have to be adversarial because my Ex is being adversarial!
Please don't fall for that old story, even though I know it may seem reasonable at the time.
"How can I be the 'good guy' when THEY are being the devil?"
"How can I be a pacifist in the face of that barrage of abuse and pain they are firing at me constantly?"
The fact is that we choose how we respond. If someone says words we find aggressive or upsetting, we are the one's deciding to put that meaning onto what are, in fact, only words. Sounds in the air. We are human though, and words can hurt badly, or if our Ex is ignoring us that also can make getting an amicable solution to a breakup very tricky. I never said it was going to be easy. But you don't have to do this alone. That is why mediators and collaborative lawyers can be so helpful.
Not only do mediation and collaborative law allow couples to feel listened to, to express their feelings and to then be supported to find the best way forward for the family as a whole, but with the support of other experts in coaching for example, that 'unreasonable' ex can express and work through their anger, fear - or whatever is driving their destructive behaviour - and providing their ex has not risen to the bait and has held a reasonable and consistent space for open and safe communication, then that unreasonable ex will usually decide to work with you rather than against you. It is invariably in their interests to do so.
As long as you are not in physical danger then it's wise to be honest with yourself about who is really being unreasonable here. Is it reasonable to not try your hardest to allow for an amicable solution - which will ultimately save you stress, time and money - just because of the way you are choosing to perceive the behaviour of your Ex?
Sometimes we are not just reacting to the adversarial behaviour of our Ex - we are reliving our own pain and anger from the past and remembering all those terrible things he or she ever did to us. Freedom comes from letting go. As soon as you begin to loosen the grip on all those past experiences that cause you pain in the present, you will effectively be dis-arming your Ex - or their family or others who you may perceive are against you - and leaving them powerless to harm you. Because if you are OK with everything, then their 'words' or behaviour can no longer trigger you and you will finally be free of that pain and anger.
Don't play the game - rewrite the rules
When we receive anger from others, it is invariably because we are suppressing our own anger. So I'm not saying you can just meditate you way through this with a few "Oms". Buying a punch bag, doing a lot of shouting and screaming (away from the kids) to release your own anger and withheld emotions may be more of what you need. Expressing your true emotions in ways that cannot harm others, must come first. Only then can you really let go and move into a better space where you no longer feed the anger of your Ex.
You stop playing the game. You create your own new rules - which allows space and opportunity for your Ex to do the same. When they are ready to.
Seeing the light
I have often heard of ex partners who are determined to drag their ex through the courts, who suddenly 'wake up' when they realise how much money, time and energy this approach is taking, and the harm it is doing to their children.
Even though it may seem impossible to start with, holding out for that possibility of your Ex 'seeing the light' is a clever thing to do. Because if you burn all the bridges, you prevent them for being able to change their minds. And it is the kids who will suffer the most in the end.
But keeping that faith in your ex being ultimately an intelligent and good-hearted person when their behaviour is not reinforcing that, is a real challenge. But challenges are what make us grow and evolve as human beings so bless them for giving you that opportunity, get appropriate support (not an adversarial lawyer, please) and hold on tight for the ride!
My advice is, that early on in the divorce process, you gather the key information that will give you the choices that lead away from court, rather than towards it. For more information on how to avoid adversarial divorce, and to access free resources to help you, please visit the Alternative Divorce Guide.