You and your spouse have been in conflict for a while now. There is never enough money. The dinner is not ready. The toothpaste you know … and the toilet seat! Your discussions are full of blame and accusations. Your tone is mocking your spouse’s tone. You have been at war. You seem to have nothing in common. You wonder why you married that person in the first place. You cannot sleep. You are slowly becoming depressed. You no longer want to talk to your spouse. What is your next step?
What is it?
It is a dispute resolution process based on established mediation techniques which you may use to improve your relationship. It is future oriented and is aimed at negotiation of mutually acceptable decisions which result in a change of the behaviour between you and your spouse. Research has shown that people respect and follow agreements that they were involved in making.
What issues can be discussed?
Many marriages fail because of breakdown of communication between spouses or financial problems such as a job loss, gambling or bankruptcy. A lot of people think that a divorce will solve the problem but they fail to realize the disastrous financial consequences that it creates. Apart from financial disputes marital mediation helps resolve conflicts related to parenting responsibilities, living arrangements, career issues and the relationships with family and friends. But most of all it provides tools for improved communication in the future. Research shows that about 53% of separating couples cite “unable to talk together” as the second reason for separation.
When to try it?
It is best to consider it when you are pondering separation and divorce but you have not yet excluded reconciliation.
You may choose this option if you do not wish to be “pathologized” as a patient in psychological counselling which, in many cultures, may carry a stigma.
How does it work?
It is a series of meetings usually about two hours long during which the couple explains their problems, the mediator listens for the issues to be mediated and teaches the couple communication skills which the couple can use in the future to prevent conflicts in the family. Some couples prefer to have their agreement in writing as a reference tool in case of future disagreement.