Article Image
Kindness and Divorce

Sunday, April, 28, 2013

On first glance, many people might reflect that the two words kindness and divorce do not belong together.

As a mediator of family matters for a number of years I have seen the behavior emanating as a result of “kindness” to be absolutely magical.  Think for a moment: when anyone in any environment is kind to you, what is your response?  Positive feelings, warmth, even the impetus to be kind back?

Families who are on the brink of breaking apart have usually been on a very treacherous road of anger, recrimination, isolation, abandonment, belittling, harassment, bickering.  Name any negative behavior and it’s usually been found between married couples who feel they are at the end of their rope, with at least one of them wanting a divorce.

That moment of realization is exactly the time to take a deep breath and understand it is not important anymore who is right, who is worthwhile, who made the greater contribution to the family.  It’s time to design the best exit possible for both of you.  If it helps, think about the model of dealing with conflict that you are showing and teaching your children.  If it helps, think of how you want to remember this period five years from now.  Do you want to be proud of yourself?

Some strategies that may help: 

Think through what you know is of most importance to your spouse. 
Think through what is most important to you.
Is there a way to thread your mutual way between these priorities?

In a very simple personal property example: I remember the wife who knew her husband’s very keen listening ear valued their quite expensive sound system and she suggested he take it.  In return he went shopping with her to help choose a system that was acceptable to her listening ear.

Family parenting plans can be a point of disagreement where a parent wants to continue some of the very satisfying parts of their role with their children such as putting young children to bed.  How can that value be satisfied for both parents as much as possible …. Perhaps extending a weekend from Friday night until Monday morning to allow for a stretch of three overnights would help.

The point is to be creative and understand there usually is no ‘right” way but careful listening to each other can point a way of meeting the values of both people.

The words “I understand” and “please consider” and “I wonder if” and “I really value you in the way you have …” all have the potential to be magic.

Posted By: June Johnson
                 Common Ground Mediation