Do you recall the saying, “when you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”
This theory, or better still, this ‘kind-communication-buzz-statement’ is massively relevant when processing a divorce and separation with your spouse. I get it – how can this happen, when emotions are bubbling over, and verbal slinging matches are at an all-time high.
I would almost preface a separation by saying everything you want to say – do the opposite. Every knee-jerk choice you want to make, stop.
Decisions and life-changing choices cannot be made in a place of emotional chaos. Let alone when dividing property, assets and parenting time.
It’s so easy to get tangled up in a messy mind when we are facing change. Change of homes, change of how to parent, change in ourselves. Whether you are the person opting to exit a marriage, or the person at the other end of the break-up, what’s so hard to see, is a different life.
A life without our ‘person’. A life without our lover. A life without certainty.
When I worked in law, the hardest part of my career was seeing my client’s facial expressions. I saw fear, confusion and overwhelm. No amount of law books and legal jargon was going to take care of the emotional onslaught of ‘the end’.
In the absence of communication, comes the downward nose-dive towards a separation or divorce. What was once a strong-suit between you and your spouse, kind communication has since vanished.
People change, marriages shift, and communication no-longer synchronises like it needs to.
Despite every desire for things to change, the damage has become irreparable. Love has been replaced with silence, kindness has been replaced with anger, praise has been replaced with harshness.
The end of my marriage was delivered via an email. I had no time to prepare, no comeback to respond to, and despite the contents of the email confirming the end, it lacked empathy, kindness and care.
So, whatever you do, save emails and messages for co-parenting arrangements, but do not break a heart the digital way.
The four most negative and common communication techniques of unhappy people are:
Criticism: when you attack or criticise the character of your partner
Defensiveness: a response to criticism — it is when you come up with excuses and play the victim
Contempt: when you make your partner feel worthless through disrespect and non-verbal cues
Stonewalling: a response to contempt — it is when you shut down, stop responding to your partner and completely withdraw.
Then comes the end.
So, how do you communicate carefully, at a time of your life in chaos?
- Don’t drop your divorce request in an email or text message.
- Gather information, resources and advice on how to proceed strategically.
- Keep your angry tone under wraps, even if you need to wait a day or week to communicate. Nothing good comes from rage.
- Avoid scathing electronic anything. The communication thread can often be used in legal proceedings, so being practical equals progress.
- Avoid social media.
- Let your lawyer do the talking if necessary.
I am determined, committed and passionate about offering kindness, compassion and, most of all, strategies. I don’t remove the emotion from the ‘doing’, but I provide the tools and techniques for a calmer place, in the midst of chaos.
There is a kinder, gentler way to divorce. This way doesn’t make it necessarily quicker, but it can make it mildly easier.
Easier for you, your spouse and your children.