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How to keep conflict low in your divorce

Updated: Apr 30, 2023


Tune In to Your Internal Station

It’s natural to have a whole bundle of tangled feelings and thoughts about the divorce and leading up to the divorce. Counseling/therapy can be one of your best bets in terms of making time and space for yourself and the myriad of thoughts and feelings coming in. Listening in on your internal dialogue, having a place to unpack and unfold what is happening inside yields tremendous results for our well-being.


There are a number of online resources and apps that connect you with therapists fairly quickly and you can pay as you go. BetterHelp - Therapy is an app that advertises professional and affordable counseling and Talkspace Therapy and Counseling App offers convenient and affordable stress support.


Of course, at times like these we may temporarily dip into anxiety and/or depression and would be able to access mental health providers through insurance. In this setting as well, you would have a place to process the knot of painful experiences, feelings and thoughts leading up to and in the divorce process.


A Divorce Coach can also provide the time and space for bringing priorities into focus, digesting all the changes and managing the stress inherent in this transition from one house to two.


In this way, you process all your big reactions and feelings and thoughts OUTSIDE of texts, emails, calls, conversations with your ex-partner. And, very far from the little ears (or big ears!) of your children. For good reason, you have a lot of pent up anger, sadness or both. Unleashing it in response to your ex’s angry text is counterproductive - most likely you will both end up more and more upset!


Surround Yourself with Collaborative Divorce Pros

Surround yourself with legal and financial professionals trained in conflict resolution and negotiation. These professionals will have the tools to bring down the temperature between you and your spouse rather than douse the fires with gasoline. Not only can this type of professional understand your needs and advocate for you, they can also help you find paths forward that meet those needs and retain respectful communication with your ex-spouse.

It’s natural to feel a bit or a lot scared about what is going to happen with the house, income, debt, kids. Your collaborative professional will have a deep understanding of this and be able to move forward in a way that keeps interests central and conflict low.


How do you know who is collaborative style attorney, mediator, financial expert? One standard is their membership in IACP - an organisation being considered for a Nobel Peace Prize. Another standard is their membership in Collaborative Practice California.


BIFF

Try implementing BIFF with your ex-spouse when you feel the most irritated, offended, exasperated, ignored, furious, crushed.


Bill Eddy is a nationally recognised figure in high conflict divorce. He came up with this simple intervention to bring down conflict when the divorce fires are running hot, when you get that text that pushes you over the edge, the email you’ve been dreading, the phone call that sends you through the roof. It turns out that keeping it simple at these times works.

Be: Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm when you respond (or even if you are initiating and you know it’s a hot topic).


Bill Eddy has written a number of books that have great detail and examples on this method to bring down conflict.

Be the Turtle (Not the Hare)

It turns out that slowing down is more useful to us when we are in a heightened state (when our heart rate goes up, our palms sweat, there’s a tightening in our jaws or tummy, we feel a weigh on our chest, a rock in our gut).


Slowing down may look like taking a walk around the block, counting backwards from 15 or breathing exercises. In essence, you want to find ways that help your body get back to a comfortable state. There are a number of somatic exercises that help us physically calm our nervous system.


When your mind and body has slowed down, you may notice that a response isn’t actually necessary. You may notice the other person is triggered or venting and you actually don’t need to respond.


Certainly, slowed down, you will be in a better state to make a BIFF reply, to make a sound decision about whether or not to replay and, most importantly, you are taking good care of yourself by keeping your internal register not too hot and not too cool.




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