When two people say their wedding vows and commit to each other with an excited “I do” they expect to live happily forever after. Unfortunately, after the proverbial honeymoon is over and the realities of life’s hardships set in, it becomes abundantly clear to anyone who’s ever been married that staying together is a task that’s harder than even the most cynical among us imagined.
Unfortunately, many couples will not withstand the stresses. And though many couples face huge external obstacles, it’s the internal frictions which inevitably are the cause of divorce. It’s when the sense of facing all Life has to offer as a team, where you both work with a synergy that’s greater than its parts, ends. It’s called the point of turning: the point where one spouse turns away from the other to find comfort and solace in someone or something else. It’s difficult moment for all involved. This is the moment when the love bond of two people is finally stretched to its limit and breaks.
The decision might not even have fully crystallized yet. Deciding to end your marriage is not come to overnight. You might be questioning yourself whether you’re overreacting to a spat. You might be wondering whether you’re doing your part in the marriage. Or you have doubts if your spouse really loves you, or even cares about you anymore.
If you’re considering getting a divorce in California, divorce mediation can help reduce stress during the divorce process.
The reasons for divorce are many and varied, but the symptoms are plain for all to see. Small annoyances become glaring differences. Polite conversation becomes a Herculean task. Long bouts of heavy silence permeate your moments together. You each feel you have little to say to one another or fear that making even the most innocent remark will inevitable spark a drawn out fight. At this point, your marriage is in a Catch 22, where trying to start a dialogue about your problems leads to more conflict, yet remaining silent only grows the isolation between two people who used to be so in love.
It’s the lack of communication that ultimately ends marriages. The communication to each other of your needs and what each of you find lacking coming from the other. What could be meaningful conversation that might save the relationship gets reduced to overreaching generalities of “You NEVER do this,” or “I ALWAYS has to do that.” Accusations replace the expression of heartfelt opinions and constructive criticism. Pinning blame and absolving yourself of responsibility trumps sincerely listening to, and understanding, what your partner has to say. We’re all human. And though such behavior often has negative consequences, we all are burdened with them at one time or another. Sometimes, the situation is simply too complicated to find the high road to get past the difficulties.
Whether or not you’ve reached that point is not always easily determined; it’s often helpful, if possible, for you and your spouse to seek some sort of mediation professional to offer a neutral perspective your disagreements and maybe help both of you find a way to resolve your issues. Mediation can occur with the help of a couple’s therapist, a mutually trusted friend or relative, or the head of your place of worship. The devolving cycle of acrimony can be broken through the mediation of a neutral third party. And even if mediation ultimately fails, you will rest easy knowing that you both left no stone unturned in your attempts to save your sacred union.
Sooner or later the harsh reality sets in, that you, or your spouse — or both — want out. One, or both, of you feel that enough is enough. The problem now becomes to resist the wholly natural urge to find one overriding reason and to pin blame on the other person. If only I had worked less. If only that person hadn’t come into our lives. If only we had more in common, or hadn’t grown apart. This is another weakness us humans have: seeing past the black-and-white of conflicts and appreciating that most of Life, including our relationships, fall into the gray areas.
When a marriage breaks up, one party is rarely to blame for the whole thing. You and your spouse fell in love together, and one or another, if it’s come to the point where you must separate, you’ve both, for better or worse, come to this point together.
Of course, divorce is more difficult to accept when it’s initiated by your spouse and you, yourself, feel the marriage is salvageable. However, after exhausting all options, once divorce is inevitable, it’s important not to twist this emotionally devastating situation into an adversarial fight to the death, where one side must win, and the other must be vanquished.
As successful divorce mediation has repeatedly shown, when you approach your divorce with the dignity and respect you had for each other when you spoke your wedding vows, ultimately you’re both much better off. Why burn bridges? Your time together should be valued and respected. Unlike litigation, divorce mediation lets you hang on to the many fond memories of your happier times together, which is a source of strength and self-worth, even as you face the new, post-divorce period of life. Divorce mediation enables you to work out a positive scenario where the best of what you each once were and will always be, can set forth towards a new life, separate yet inseparable, and full of hope.
Diana Mercer is a Divorce Mediator and the founder of Peace Talks Family Mediation Services. She is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life. We provide mediation services for divorce, Child Custody Mediation, premarital agreements, Prenuptial agreement, estate planning, estate administration and family business disputes.