How to Keep Your Emotions in Check
Divorce is never easy — even when it’s amicable. Realizing that your marriage is over can be a traumatic event and is frequently a trigger for many difficult emotions. This can be especially true in the early stages of the divorce process when spouses are just starting to come to grips with the fact that “it’s really going to be over.”
In terms of not adding more stress to an already stressful situation, divorce mediation is widely considered to be a better option than litigated divorce because it helps couples divorce faster, minimizes costs, and patterns effective communication for post-divorce interactions. As they see their parents trying to work peacefully to settle their differences, instead of witnessing them battle in court, mediation can also offer distinct emotional benefits for children.
With that said, divorce mediation is not a time to work through the troubled emotions you may be feeling. If you do choose to bring feelings of hostility, anger, or jealously into mediation sessions, understand that it is an almost surefire way to derail negotiations.
There’s no denying that divorce can provoke intense feelings. Here are some strategies to keep those emotions in check during the mediation process.
Focus on solutions. It’s tempting to revisit old wounds and demonstrate to your spouse that he or she is wrong about any number of issues, but typically, this only serves to slow down mediation — or completely derail it. During sessions, make it your goal to focus on finding workable solutions that will help you settle your divorce as quickly as possible. Take a business-like approach and do your best to remind yourself, each day, that your “business” is about finding solutions.
Don’t use the mediator as a therapist or a judge. If you want mediation to work, respect the emotional boundaries that come with it. Some spouses attempt to turn the mediator into a therapist and air their marital grievances at every turn. Others try to bait mediators into making judging “you’re right and your spouse is wrong” statements. Your mediator is neither qualified nor, for that matter, interested in acting as a therapist or judge. If you need a divorce therapist, you can almost certainly find someone who can help you deal with your emotional issues. Likewise, if you are looking for a judge, then perhaps mediation is not for you at this time.
Eat, sleep and exercise. Speak with your doctor (not your mediator!) if you are having problems with weight loss or gain, insomnia, or you feel too lethargic or sad to engage in physical activities, like your weekly spin class, that you once enjoyed. A healthy, well-rested body will help you stay calmer and give you more energy and focus during mediation — and beyond.
Try yoga, mediation or other relaxation techniques. Simply learning to breathe deeply can be profoundly helpful during mediation sessions, especially if you hit point of contention and emotions and tempers are running high, and patience and understanding seem to be in short supply. Investigate the many books and websites that offer simple tips on reducing stress to see what can work to help you stay calm.
Get informed. The more you know about the mediation process in New Jersey, and applicable New Jersey family laws, the more confident and secure you’ll feel. In turn, this can help you feel less stressed and more in control of your emotions. We recommend that you watch our free divorce webinar: The 5 Critical Risks of Divorce. Remember, your mediator cannot offer legal advice. Only a qualified New Jersey divorce attorney can do that, and your mediator has to be someone other than your divorce attorney.