We can all look back on stressful times in our lives and feel pangs of regret for our own poor behavior. Who hasn’t wanted to take back words and acts that have been hurtful to others? We can make choices that turn out to be unwise. We are left with the consequences of our decisions.
The process of separation and divorce can be stressful, and that can impact decision-making skills.
Many divorcing spouses don’t recognize the level of stress they themselves are under during the divorce process. They may not even realize how they were affected until much later. Most are not thinking as wisely as they usually do. In addition, the overwhelming majority of people believe they ARE thinking wisely, when, in fact, after the dust has settled, they know they could have made better choices.
As a mediator, I am trained to help clients recognize needs and interests that may be obscured by emotion and avoid stress-based decisions.
Consider these “danger areas”:
When the stress of divorce is combined with the shock and numbness that lead to irrational decision making, things can backfire with long-term and even life-long negative consequences.
The mediation process acknowledges the presence of emotion within the participants and in their conversation. In mediation I help my clients look within themselves to find the needs and interests that are being held in the emotions of the moment.
While other processes, like litigating a divorce, may throw fuel on the emotional fires of a client’s heart, mediators can use empathy and understanding to assist emotional clients in navigating gently through a difficult transition. With a mediator’s eye on maintaining focus and purpose, I strive for a more positive outcome through honest dialogue rather than a negative backlash from emotionally impacted behavior and speech.
The start of winter is defined by more darkness than light. So can be the emotional weather of those experiencing separation and divorce. Like the proverbial winter, sadness, uncertainty, fear and anger represent the dark emotions.
Yet as the New Year turns the corner to the end of January, we notice the light of each day is with us a little bit longer. The brightness of morning comes earlier, and nighttime is later.
In the same way, the transition through separation and divorce can be a light to a new chapter in life. The challenge of sadness can be the light that transforms into the opportunity for freedom from a marriage that did not work at its core.
Mediation as a process is the chance for planning to overcome uncertainty and assist both spouses to define future realities. Each decision made by a couple is a building block in their new separate roads, while maintaining connections that may be defined, such as parenting. While some spouses see the end of a marriage as the end of a personal relationship, others strive to remain connected personally, even beyond a lifetime parental relationship.
In the mediation process, the possibilities are defined by the two spouses who are deciding their futures with the help of a neutral who offers a safe and respectful space for exploration and planning.
Just as each day of winter is taking us to the light and promise of spring, my desire is to bring more light and hope to clients who are seeking to come out of darkness. This happens one conversation at a time, one decision at a time.