Divorce can be difficult, especially when having to see, hear, or converse with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is emotionally difficult. While the process can be challenging, there are a few do’s and don’ts to remember that can make things a lot easier for both parties:
- Be Respectful
Be respectful even if the other person isn’t respectful to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re angry or bitter about the divorce, showing respect, as you would with a professional colleague is a direct reflection on you.
- Be Mindful of Each Other’s Time
If you send a message, don’t have an expectation of the other party giving an immediate response. Everyone works on different schedules, so be mindful of their time. If something is time sensitive, say that in the message and ask that other party get back to you within a specified period of time. If a response is urgent text or call the person to let them know that you sent them a message that needs a swift response.
- Be Productive
Many couples use communication to be quibble over small things that might be considered petty, but this is not productive and may ultimately impede communication. Give yourself time to process feelings, conversations that took place, actions, and other things that trigger you. Keep your communication professional and business-like. Remember – how you respond reflects YOU.
- Use Channels That Are Comfortable for You
There’s no rule that says you must speak to your spouse. Tensions can run high during this time, and conversations can quickly turn heated or hurtful. In some cases, email is the preferred choice, which is perfectly fine. Text messaging, and third party programs such as Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents are also alternatives that can be used to keep things professional. These alternatives also provide a clear record of what was said in the event either party tries to backtrack on an agreement, or if a party claims they were unaware of something.
- Be Comprehensive in Your Responses and Set Boundaries
When communicating with your spouse, set boundaries for the conversation. Take the time to be comprehensive when initiating or responding to any requests. That way, you can think about what you want to say, your timing in saying it, and provide as much information as you can to reduce back and forth. The more comprehensive you can be in addressing topics, the less you will have to communicate with your spouse.
- Stay on Topic
Conflict solves nothing. If your spouse becomes combative and you can’t resolve issues, it’s best to end the call. You can express that the conversation isn’t going well and you’re terminating the call until a later time or recommend continuing through mediation. Do not allow your spouse to belittle or put you in a place where you get angry.
- Protect Yourself
Adopt a mental blocker mindset. If your spouse is sending nasty text messages or emails, you do not have to read them or engage. Don’t put yourself in the line of fire. Let a friend or family member help. They can let you know if there are items that need to be addressed.
Use this list as you move forward. It may seem as if the divorce process will never end, but it will. Remember, process how you are feeling to address anger, think clearly, and remain professional. If children are involved, they are watching how you interact with the other party, so it is an opportunity to show them how to resolve conflict in a productive manner.
For assistance with any aspect of your divorce, contact us at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law.