It’s impossible to plan for all of the difficult conversations you’re going to have during your divorce. If you are considering a collaborative divorce, the “no bashing” rule dominates every conversation, and let’s be honest: Sometimes it’s difficult for your words to be non-accusatory because you are angry, hurt, or in emotional turmoil about your divorce.
Think about the difficult conversations you may have with various people during the divorce:
- Family members
- Soon-to-be-ex spouse
You will most likely initiate some of these conversations, but other discussion attempts may take you by surprise. When your neighbor leans over the fence and bluntly asks what’s going on, how will you respond?
Tips for Structuring Difficult Conversations About Your Divorce
Mediate.com offers some tips to help you structure these conversations because you want to take control of the discussion quickly. What is the purpose and goal of this conversation? What is the best possible outcome? Think about and answer those questions before each conversation.
- Are your emotions running high and do you feel vulnerable? As you enter into every difficult conversation about your divorce, remember that you might be emotionally off-balance, and temper your words.
- Don’t make assumptions. Perhaps the person who initiated the conversation and with whom you are speaking may be genuinely concerned; not malicious. “Impact does not necessarily equal intent,” says author Judy Ringer.
- Don’t rush it. Passing a co-worker in the hallway or breaking the news to your parents without adequate time to discuss it is not conducive to a good conversation. They deserve more attention.
- Hope for the best. If you believe a particular conversation about your divorce is going to be terrible, it may be; your attitude can sometimes shape the tenor of a conversation. Try to keep your attitude positive and upbeat when going into a difficult discussion.
- Stay centered. Remember, you can control the outcome of these difficult conversations by staying calm and focused. You’ll help the other person stay calm and centered, too.
- Think empathetically. What are this person’s fears, concerns, and how do they perceive the situation? The conversation may feel like “it’s all about you,” but be especially sensitive to others; this change may impact their lives, too.
How to Tell Others You’re Getting a Divorce
Telling your kids about your divorce is your first priority, and probably the most challenging discussion you’ll have. Here are some hints to help you tell other important people in your life about the change that’s already occurring. Remember, staying calm and focused can take difficult conversations in a positive direction.
- Children – Remind them you both still love them and they did nothing to contribute to your adult decision. They will be concerned about what will happen to them. Reassure them you are still their parents and will still be taking care of them. Be prepared for them to experience a wide range of strong emotions.
- Co-Workers and employers – Less is more. Petty office gossip can become problematic, so the less everyone knows, the better.
- Family members – Some family members will be more curious than concerned, so keep your cool with them. Remember to be empathetic to family members who love you, your spouse, and your children.
- Friends – These people may be more invested in you and your marriage than some of your family members. For mutual friends, be diplomatic and sensitive to their feelings. They don’t want to feel as if they have to “choose sides.”
- Parents – Stick to the basics and save details for later. They may experience a gamut of emotions at this news.
You’re Not Alone
A collaborative divorce doesn’t include courtroom drama, and that’s what many people want to avoid. Yes, you and your spouse are more in-control when you have a collaborative divorce, but it’s not a DIY (do-it-yourself) process. And it shouldn’t be. This is a time when you need professional support and guidance.
Every divorce is different, but they don’t have to be difficult. Best Legal Choices is a group of Arizona attorneys, financial counselors, and communications coaches who can help you make this transition to a different – and hopefully, better – life. Contact us to begin the conversation.