“I want a divorce” … your heart skips a beat. Your breath is taken away. You doubt whether you heard it right. You’ve been blind-sided with those chilling words haunting your mind.
If you were the one to say them, you may have murmured them quietly with great sadness and resign. You could have shouted them in anger. Or, those words could have been rehearsed over and over in your head, only to come out too quickly to really hold all the weight of everything you feel.
These are some of the most emotionally staggering words you could ever hear or say. When a partner decides to end a relationship, so many different thoughts, feelings, and reactions arise. Some initial thoughts can be outraged… “how could you do this?”, “you drove me to this!”, “I want to hurt you as much as you’re hurting me!” Other immediate thoughts can involve extreme hurt…. “when did this start to go downhill?”, “he/she doesn’t love me anymore…”, “all our years of marriage and everything we’ve built together is over,” “I am not good enough.” More feelings can include shock, betrayal, spite, emptiness and emotional exhaustion, relief, distance, depleting self-worth, and fear. Even when the decision is mutual, it’s commonly a traumatic experience to share. The well-known yogi Sadhguru believes that divorce is comparable to mourning the loss of a loved one. According to him, it is a voluntary death. If you have been with each other long enough, the pain from divorce is not only psychological and emotional, but physical too. The memories from that person live on in your body, through all your senses. You remember their touch, their smell, the way they look or have looked at you, the feel of your arms around them, etc. When you go through a divorce, you are trying to rip that memory from your body, he explains, and that can’t be easy.
Even after the sharper thoughts have played out, it’s common to face the next steps with apprehension. “Now I need to find a lawyer…”, “what’s going to happen in court?”, “this is going to be a long messy road ahead…”
When the plans to separate are made, it isn’t surprising that most people first picture lawyer’s offices, dark suits, and formal court rooms divided as if you’re about to go to war. In a lot of ways, courtrooms can feel like a war zone. The problem is, what kinds of effects can this have on your emotional and physical wellbeing, and that of your family? Too often, divorce proceedings can get ramped up with negative behaviour that has a strong impact on children of the household. Now, in certain cases it may be more appropriate to go the lawyer route. However, one alternative in particular holds the potential to provide both parties with empowerment and more peaceful resolution… Mediation.
“Does it really work?” you think. Sure, you might have heard about it before. Maybe a friend mentioned it once. Even if you know what mediation is, you probably still wonder whether it’s worth it. Well fortunately, the answer is yes. If success is measured by signed agreements, then mediation has proven its worth. Since the main goal of mediation is to find a resolution to settle the conflict, the vast majority of mediation is successful. Both in full and partial agreements, mediation’s success rate outnumbers the times it is unsuccessful. Even if the parties don’t reach a signed agreement, mediation is never a waste of time. The chance to air out your thoughts and ideas, coupled with the opportunity to listen to that of your ex-partner’s, almost always leaves you both in a better place to move forward than having not tried mediation at all. Judges know this too, and that’s why for many different cases and lawsuits, judges often order parties to mediate before going to trial. It works…. as long as you want it to.
Yes, mediation requires that both parties voluntarily agree to try it, with “good faith”. This doesn’t mean that you can’t let yourself feel hesitant, nervous, or doubtful; often one party feels this way while the other party may have suggested the idea to mediate in the first place. A puller and a feet dragger. But as long as you both agree to do it by your own will, and you both give it a fair shot, you are almost guaranteed to be surprised by what it can do for you.
At JMS Law, the approach is not only with the goal of resolution, but also of a future where you feel stronger, at peace, and more mindful of what really matters. Wouldn’t it be amazing to get to a place where you can say you’re truly okay, happy, and confident in your life? Where you gain closure and conclusion? And more importantly, where your children, if you have any together, can grow up and say they felt loved and supported through the divorce instead of involved in it? Because no matter what you tell yourself, children know. They pick up tension. They can hear negative connotations in conversation. They are like little sponges that always initially blame themselves, and that is heartbreaking. If you want to do the best for them and look after their future, the solution is peace. The more understanding, empathy and civility between parents, the better. Because it’s no longer about you and your ex; it’s about continuing to be mom and dad. You’re parents in this together, so the best way to move forward is if you can do so as peacefully as possible. No it’s not always easy to get there, but that is why we are here, and why you are reading this blog. You’ve heard the saying “life is short”. Now, imagine using a good portion of your time wrapped up in court battles, distressing letters, and bitter resentment. Often never gaining insight or closure. Mediation offers the chance for you to move forward and continue to live your life, in the best way possible.