As a divorce lawyer and mediator I hear all sorts of reasons for people getting divorced. I’m no expert on how couples can stay together, but I have always thought that difficulties communicating, listening and acknowledging play a large part in marriages breaking down in a lot of cases.
I agree with this article, that if couples don’t do this early enough, when things start to go wrong, later down the line there can be no way back.
Helping couples to communicate, listen and acknowledge is a big part of my job as a mediator.
While mediation does not help couples to reconcile, it does help couples make the decisions that need to be made as a result of their divorce, for example, how much time the children will spend with each parent.
Mediation is much more successful if the couple can communicate, listen and acknowledge and there are various ways in which I can help with this.
For example, using phrases like ‘it sounds like…’ if someone appears to be having difficulty communicating, repeating something someone has said if the other person doesn’t seem to be listening or asking them to tell us more if it seems like the other person might benefit from hearing more.
Sometimes people can become stuck on something because their feelings are not being acknowledged, so I might acknowledge things for them, which also potentially emphasises to the other person that the other’s point of view is valid and worth listening to. Mediation really is a fascinating job from this point of view.
When youre in the baby years as a couple, youre often in fight or flight mode, building your career and raising your kids, and youre just firefighting and trying to get through it as best you can with the relationship often falling to the bottom of the to-do list, says couples psychotherapist Louise Tyler (personalresilience.co.uk). 'Its only when you emerge and the children are a bit older that you might look at your partner and feel completely disconnected or that youve sunk into familiarity and boredom. In the past, marriage was often a financial and legal arrangement and women had little choice but to stick with it, but nowadays women are financially independent and theres a feeling we should be living our best life and shouldnt stay in an unhappy relationship if we dont want to.