“Seriously? You want to end this? You want a divorce? I mean, I know we’ve had problems. I’ve tried to change. I’ll be better. Is this really what you want to do?”
Whether you’ve said those words or heard them, it doesn’t matter. Divorce is a devastating experience. And although divorce results from a variety of issues, it’s natural to want to know the one reason why your marriage failed, how it caused you and your spouse to grow apart, and whether or not there is anything that can be done differently to fix it. In reality, there is no one reason or moment. Instead, what the relationship has undergone is what a divorce mediation attorney calls turning — this is the cause of divorce. Turning away from your spouse is almost always at the heart of any divorce.
Once you’ve decided that a divorce is unavoidable, you’ve probably reached the point of knowing what you need to do next. But, if you’re still not ready to take that step, you may feel compelled to examine your marriage: to look for clues you may have overlooked, or the signs of marital crisis that, at the time, escaped you. It’s not an easy exercise, and is often filled with guilt. A divorce mediation attorney can help you get through the process.
In just about all of the cases we’ve seen in our practice, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when things in a marriage changed for the worse. But turning doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that’s been brewing for months, or even years. Still, divorce brings on a roller-coaster of emotions and a myriad of questions: “Could I have worked less? Made more money? Been more attentive? Spent more time at home? Was it the last fight we had?” Odds are that the answer to everything is “Yes.”
In any divorce, both parties hold responsibility. When a relationship goes sour, it’s sometimes hard to figure out who did what to cause the breakup. Life and all its troubles are far more subtle and multi-layered. It’s easy to fall into a “He Said, She Said” mindset, defining things in black and white. But the truth is, relationships are complex, and it’s much more difficult to be willing to examine what really went wrong. For example, when did communication break down? When did you stop caring about what the other one thought or did? A divorce mediation attorney can act as a neutral party to help you identify these sensitive issues.
Marriages often end because one or even both parties involved looked for passion, comfort or fulfillment outside the relationship. These outside interests may have been harmless when they started, and sometimes don’t even involve another person or dependency. Nonetheless, as a person’s interests and attentions lay more and more outside of their marriage, keeping that marriage vital and alive becomes increasingly difficult. Communication breaks down, fights erupt, misunderstandings become an everyday occurrence.
Your relationship didn’t just suddenly shatter like a broken glass. It happened over time. The disconnection was a process. As divorce mediation attorneys, we often hear words like, “You didn’t” or “You never.” We rarely hear “I need” or “I’d like.” The relationship’s subtext barely exists. Perhaps your marriage might have evolved differently had you or your spouse been more direct about your needs and clearly expressed your feelings. But we all make mistakes, and all too often, we figure out the right thing to say much too late.
It takes a great deal of courage to ask the hard questions, to deal with the even harder answers, and to wrap your mind and heart around what happened to cause your marriage to end. Although you may be well past the point of fixing things, a divorce mediation attorney can help you end your relationship with clarity. This kind of counseling can have a positive effect on how you deal with the inevitable life changes that divorce brings. These resources can help you on this journey, and are free of charge:
As you examine the history of your marriage – its high points, its low points, and everything in between – you may start to understand when and why your personal turning happened. These are not easy lessons to learn. As you make your final turn away from your spouse, try to keep in mind that you are also turning towards a new chapter in the book of your own life. Have the courage to fill its pages.
Arguments are like sports. They can start out friendly, but as the game goes on, it’s tough not to want to beat your competition. Suddenly, all you want to do is win and bring your opponent down. But we’re certain that’s not how you want your divorce to end. Your marriage started as a relationship. On some levels, it still is and will always be. You have a choice: divorce mediation, not litigation. If you approach this particular crossroad as teammates, there’s a good chance you can walk away from it with your dignity and self-respect intact, plus a lot less anger towards each other. And in our book, that’s really what winning is all about.
Diana Mercer is a Divorce Attorney Los Angeles and the founder of Peace Talks Divorce Mediation Services; it provides mediation services, Family Divorce Mediation and child. Contact Peace Talks for More information about Divorce mediation California. 8 Peace Practices visit Diana Mercer’s Own Blog at: Makingdivorceworkblog.com