714.706.3992 Call for a Free Phone Consultation
Serving Orange County

Orange County Family Law Attorneys

Using the Power of Positive Thinking During Your Divorce: Building Good Relationships for the Future

Posted By Judy Williams || 13-Mar-2014

Divorce ArticlesThis is the fourth in our series of six articles on why adopting a positive mindset during divorce can have a permanent effect on the rest of your life. In our last article, we discussed how the wonderful relationship you had when you were first “in love” can deteriorate to the point that divorce seems like the only option. This week we focus on how and why it makes sense to begin today to work on the steps to rebuilding good relationships.

When a couple comes to the Center for Mediated Divorce, I begin by explaining that family law Judicial Officers have very specific questions that they ask of persons appearing before them who are requesting a divorce. Those questions are: “Have irreconcilable differences arisen in your marriage causing the irremediable breakdown of your marriage? Is there anything that could save your marriage, including the passage of time, assistance of this court, or counseling?”

I explain to couples that when they complete their divorce, using mediation, neither of them will enter a courtroom to be asked those questions. For that reason, I always ask those same questions of the couple. Occasionally, both parties will hesitate and give an indication that counseling MIGHT help. I immediately refer them to counselors with whom I have worked and in whom I have great confidence. Especially if there are children, I strongly urge couples to attempt every possible way to save the marriage for the sake of those children.

Nearly always, however, one or both of the parties will answer emphatically that there is nothing that will save the marriage. In those instances, we move on to discuss the options that they have to complete a divorce.

In every case, however, there are positive reasons to work toward a cooperative relationship, especially if there are children. It is important to be able to co-parent after the divorce and to communicate without anger and hostility. When parents cannot set aside their emotions while interacting, children are often caught in the middle and experience trauma. Even without children, it is important for couples to be able to interact in a positive, rational way to solve the inevitable questions that arise when faced with dividing their assets and debts in an equitable way.

Counseling is often a necessary path to teach the parties new ways to listen, to communicate and to problem-solve. A neutral third-party counselor who is trained and experienced in helping individuals learn new ways to communicate effectively and calmly, can often make a huge difference. Once these new skills are learned, the divorce process goes much more smoothly, and both parties believe that they are being heard at last.

Over the last eighteen years I have learned much from my professional associations with professional counselors who have become friends and colleagues. Recently I used some of their techniques with a couple who seemed deadlocked in anger and retribution. We had made little progress even after 5 mediation sessions.

Upon arrival at the sixth session, I asked if they would be willing to be engaged in an exercise that might assist them in their discussions. I explained to them that the base of the brain contains our “fight or flight” section, which we use when we are frightened, angry or stressed. Once that part of the brain is engaged it is very difficult to use the part of the brain used for rational, analytical reasoning.

After that brief overview, the couple reluctantly agreed to a 15-minute exercise. In separate rooms they were to write down three things they appreciated about each other and one thing that they regretted. No further discussion was held.

Wife said she appreciated how much time Husband spent organizing all of the financial information and coming up with innovative solutions. Husband said he appreciated how dedicated Wife is to the children and how tenacious she is when trying to solve a problem. Husband shared that he regretted that he had not taken marriage counseling seriously and had not worked at the marriage when he had the chance.

They shared those thoughts verbally with each other, and the atmosphere in the room changed incredibly. It was, by far, the most productive session they had experienced. They were able to make significant strides forward. If that couple would begin working with a trained counselor, their co-parenting would be much more cooperative and successful.

Previously they had been angry with each other over a birthday weekend for their soon-to-be 18 year old daughter. They had allowed the daughter to pit them against each other in order to get the weekend she wanted. When guided to discuss what each had really done and said, it was clear each had misunderstood the other’s motives. Without the intervention of a third-party neutral to help them listen to each other, it could have been a misunderstanding of epic proportions.

All of the warning signs listed in our previous article are signposts to indicate that trouble may be around the bend. Recognizing them early may allow the couple to seek the assistance of a trained counselor so they will learn to:

  • really listen to each other
  • share the burden of financial decisions and information
  • refrain from saying hurtful things to the other
  • actively work to keep from drifting apart (plan dates and time together)
  • refrain from negativity and the silent treatment
  • share parenting with each other

If you feel some of these danger signs are creeping into your relationship, seeking the help of a licensed counselor may avert a breakup. If a divorce is the only avenue left, counseling may still help you become a more positive person and to learn to communicate in a positive way during and after the divorce.

Next week — positive steps that will help after the divorce.

Categories: Blog, Divorce

Get Help Now!

Send Info

The Right Attorney

  • Avvo Rating of 9.4 Superb
  • Voted Top OC Divorce Lawyer
  • Nearly 20 Years Of Experience
  • Affordable Divorce Fees
9.4 superb Avvo