- Are there certain topics that you and your partner have never been able to discuss and have built your relationship around avoiding?
- Have you asked for something you need over and over but it never happens?
- Have you heard promise after promise that things will change but it doesn’t happen?
- Do the two of you need to make an important decision but can’t agree?
- Do you fight over parenting, money, intimacy and other things and want to find some common ground?
- Have you triggered each other in the same ways so many times you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to get to the bottom of it?
- Do you just concede over and over to keep the peace but secretly feel resentful?
Need Help Talking to Each Other?
People divorce because of these unresolved conversations all the time. We avoid important discussions because we want to keep the peace, but in the end they just pile up. They don’t go away. One of my biggest surprises was that my former spouse and I had to pull 30 years of avoided conversations out from under the rug in order to get divorced. The issues didn’t go away. They just waited. Sometimes we need help, the right kind of help, to talk to each other.
Unresolved emotional issues will influence future conversations
Maybe everything has been decided except that “one” little thing you’ve been avoiding. Maybe it’s about maintenance (alimony), how properties should be split, who gets the house, the parenting schedule. What I notice is that “one thing” hasn’t been discussed because it knotted into deeper feelings like being disrespected, feeling unloved, unsupported, or their partner took advantage of their good will throughout the marriage. The hold out for money or getting the house is really holding on to that apology or needing payback.
A divorced couple with a young child needed help deciding which parent the child should live with for school. They lived 75 miles apart. It became clear that their standoff wasn’t about school, but something deeper. It turned out to be infidelity. Although they didn’t recognize it, this was their stance: “You had the affair, so he gets to come to school by me.” “Well you didn’t show me love and forced me to the affair, so he gets to come to school where I live.” Neither parent felt the other understood how much they were hurt over the initial transgression. Instead it was being lived out with regard to the child’s schooling. After we took the time for each of them to really hear the emotional experience of the other progress was made. These conversations are vital for an ongoing parenting relationship.
Your Next Step
I’ve facilitated difficult conversations concerning multiple affairs, respect issues, pornography issues, financial withholding and more. These clients are brave. It takes courage to go to these hard places but it will change your future.
I am very skilled at facilitating these conversations. I use these skills all the time in our Collaborative Divorce process and well as with couples. They will work for you, too.