Emotions and the Magic of Mediation

Emotions and the Magic of Mediation by Susan Ingram

{3:12 minutes to read}

In my last blog, I spoke about the 4 elements that come into play when couples are going through a divorce. The elements are:

  1. The Legal Divorce
  2. The Financial Divorce
  3. The Children’s Divorce
  4. The Emotional Divorce

For this blog, I want to focus on the emotional aspect of divorce. It is the piece that is often the most challenging, since the parties’ emotions directly impact all of the other elements. I’ve sometimes described this as the “umbrella” that hangs over each of the other elements.

Described another way, the emotions are the prism through which the parties view all other aspects of their divorce. That prism can be transparent and reflect beautiful colored rays of light, or it can be clouded, thus distorting the light or perhaps even preventing the colors from shining through at all.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial if a couple could experience a process of divorce that emulates the transparent prism? A process that acknowledges the underlying emotional elements? A process that would help each partner to better understand his or her own needs, as well as the needs of the other?

I’m happy to say that there is such a process, and it is called Divorce Mediation.

In divorce mediation, the couple meets together with the mediator to address the issues they need to resolve. This is very different from a litigated divorce in which each partner communicates through their individual attorney, with little or no opportunity to discuss the issues with one another. This frequently results in rigidity and an escalation of emotions, sometimes to the boiling point. The lack of understanding of the other person’s point of view prolongs resolution of the issues and likely produces a less than satisfactory agreement.

In mediation, a couple can learn to better communicate with one another. The mediator facilitates the couple’s conversations, and in so doing, supports them in “actively listening” to each other. With active listening, each person really hears what the other has said without first applying the filter of their own thoughts and opinions. Thus, each can begin to acknowledge the needs and viewpoints of the other and develop a deeper level of understanding of what they need to do to resolve their issues and come to an agreement.

When both parties have an understanding of their own needs, as well as those of their partner, they are able to reach a more fair agreement for both of them. This translates into the win-win situation that is often used to describe divorce mediation.

One response on “Emotions and the Magic of Mediation

  1. Mark Bullock

    Hi Susan, just a note to say I love your prism analogy – “the emotions are the prism through which the parties view all other aspects of their divorce” – really great, thank you!

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