Communication skills in marriage and mediated divorce
Daphne de Marneffe writes in the New York Times about how couples can make the transition over the years from starry eyed newly in love to long term intimate love. She explains that high emotions are an opportunity to communicate deeply and listen full heartedly to each other. While we urge our followers to click on the link and absorb her wise message, here’s a particularly stand out quote: “Through [that] conversation we cultivate the essential emotional attitude in marriage: I can try to understand what you think and feel, without it taking away from my own experience. Your reality doesn’t cancel out mine.”
This is the essence of the work in mediation, both for the mediators and for the parties. Each client expresses his or her perspective and values around a given issue, and that is held in the room along with the perspective and values of the other. The work in mediation is first, for the mediator to listen, reflect and understand each party, in the presence of the other. Parties have time and space to express themselves fully and to hear the other’s experience as well. In order to come to agreement, each needs to be heard and ultimately be able to understand (not necessarily agree with) the other. This is how compromise comes about. How parties negotiate the terms of their divorce influences how they manage life together and apart post-divorce–the process can serve as a blueprint for improved communication and successful problem solving.