Conscious Divorce Rules of Engagement
Transitioning out of marriage is often a very challenging time. We’ve found that the divorce or legal separation process is much smoother when people commit to certain ways of being.
We ask people who work with us to review and attempt to abide by our "Rules of Engagement" when interacting with their spouse in any mediation or negotiation setting. Doing so can help you achieve more efficient results, reduce the length of time required, and transition more gracefully through whatever process is occurring.
Respect and be patient with each other (and your mediator or attorney). Each person needs to have the opportunity to voice their truth so that the process can move forward. Also realize that everyone does not move at the same pace. Don't interrupt. When in the same room, no eye rolling, pen tapping, other energetic interruptions. At least be civil. Listen with true curiosity if you can.
Respect yourself. Listen to your instincts. Speak up. What is most important to you? Leaving things unexpressed often leads to misunderstandings and prevents you from getting what you want.
Be Honest. Don’t hide anything. When the truth is spoken, it engenders trust and actually helps you get what you want. And it’s important to keep in mind that if you misrepresent the reality of your assets, the whole case can be re-opened later.
Speak only for yourself. Use “I” instead of “You” sentences. Only your personal experience is inarguable. “I got upset when you said that.” Rather than: “What you said was wrong and hurtful” or “You’re being a jerk.” No one can argue that you got upset after you heard what the other said.
Don’t make assumptions. Instead, check out your interpretations.
Although you may have strong ideas and feelings about what happened and who is at fault, there are always multiple perspectives. Excessive blaming and shaming tends to bog down the discussion and cut off collaboration. Stay focused on the future.
When you’re emotionally triggered, your ability to be objective goes off-line. Notice how you’re feeling, then name it or request time to calm down and get grounded so that you don’t say or do something to impede progress. That may mean a short break or coming back another day.
Although your feelings are absolutely valid, consider that every time you shift accountability to someone else for your feelings or your life circumstances, you disempower yourself. Ultimately, doing so puts you in the roll of victim and stands in the way of your own progress. And while you don’t want slip into the role of victim, be certain you don’t expect your spouse to take care of you through this process, either.
Peter Fabish and John Hoelle are the co-founders of Conscious Family Law & Mediation LLC, offering collaborative divorce mediation, or legal representation with strength and integrity, in metro Denver/Boulder, Colorado.