Fair Fighting in a Divorce
If you and your partner are divorcing amicably for the most part, then you already probably are communicating assertively. You also probably don’t need to read this but it never hurts to read it anyway.
However, if this is not the case, please read on! Whatever you do, remain respectful. Yes, you may feel hurt, and angry but ripping into your ex will solve nothing and will simply mean you’ll be paying more legal fees for more visits when the two of you fail to compromise.
Even before the two of you and your lawyers meet, here is what you can do:
1. If your feelings are running so strong, perhaps the first thing to do is get a counselor for yourself and ask him or her to help you formulate what you want and to talk about the anger and frustration so you don’t bring those heavy emotions to the negotiating table, and do it before your divorce proceedings actually begin.
2. Know what you want before you begin and ask yourself: “is it fair? Is it realistic? Is it negotiable? Try to think of several possible outcomes that would work for you before you sit down to talk or negotiate. Be sure to write it down, give a copy to your lawyer in advance and bring a copy with you to the table.
3. Don’t yell, shout or scream! If you feel yourself going there, ask for a time out and take a few minutes to get your emotions under control.
4. No blaming and shaming of each other. It is pointless and will waste both time and money, and delay what you want.
5. Avoid name calling, swearing at and insulting your soon-to-be ex. All you’ll do is put him or her on the defensive.
6. No hitting, slapping, lunging or threats of violence. Abuse is NOT going to get you what you want.
7. Speak for and about yourself; not your partner. Use “I” statements to say how you feel, what you want and what is important to you; not what your partner feels or wants. They get to do that when it is their turn to speak. Keep your focus on yourself only.
8. Listen, really deeply listen, not with an aim to blurt out what you want to say or to blurt out a rebuttal. Instead listen to what they are saying when it’s their turn to say what they feel, want and believe is important to them.
9. If you find yourself slipping into your usual patterns of name-calling and blaming, make sure you schedule an appointment with your counselor prior to the negotiation meetings.
Jeanni Jones, M. E., Registered Clinical Counselor