I published an article recently about marital mediation in the context of couples who have been working with a family or couples therapist. Since this is such an important and little understood subject, I would like to take the opportunity to explain this process from a broader perspective.
In my last blog article, I discussed the role of Active Listening in conflict resolution. The importance of Active Listening cannot be overstated. It is only when both people listen in this way that they can begin shifting from their hard positions to more constructive ground where they are able to meet their own needs as well as those of the other person.
The way you listen – or do not listen – to someone directly impacts the outcome of your conversation with that person, especially if your points of view are divergent. There are two levels of listening that take place when you are in conversation with another person.
There are two principal aspects to the role a mediator plays when helping couples resolve their issues during mediation. One relates to the substance and the other has to do with the process itself. Substance refers to the issues that must be addressed and resolved when a couple is separating or divorcing. Process relates to the ground rules that are established, and then how the conversations take place and move along, ultimately to resolution. Each is equally important, in its own right. Two earlier blog articles (Issues & Additional Issues in Divorce Mediations) described the specific issues that need to be discussed in divorce mediation.
With enough training and experience, a divorce/family mediator can certainly become an adequate, and even a good mediator. But what are those extra qualities that turn a good mediator into a great mediator? I’ve purposefully used the word qualities instead of abilities, because I believe qualities better conveys the deep-seated foundation and beliefs by which a person lives his or her life. It’s these less-tangible elements that make all the difference – and that ultimately enable the mediator to interact with clients on a much deeper level. (Note: for editorial consistency, I’ve referred to the mediator as ‘she’ in this article.)
Divorcing couples seek out mediators because they want non-adversarial resolutions to the important issues that need to be discussed before they exit their marriage. Some of the decisions that have to be made may seem overwhelming, if not downright impossible. It is the mediator’s job to help the couple move through these difficult discussions – so that, together, they can remove the obstacles blocking their progress towards a mutually agreeable settlement.
As divorcing couples become more and more enlightened, an increasing number of people have become curious about the benefits of mediation and how they might be applied to their unique situation. In thinking about this issue, I’ve compiled a list of seven advantages to mediation over the traditional divorce process.