As I wrapped up a particularly emotional mediation recently, I urged my clients to take good care of themselves and to make an effort to heal and restore in the subsequent weeks. This is more than an encouraging platitude at the end of a tough session. I often say this to people in the course of separation or intense co-parenting disputes because their circumstances are traumatic. Literally. Intense fighting, being left by the person you have built a trusting relationship with, losing daily contact with your children or financial and legal anxieties create trauma that gets stored in the body. And that can come back to haunt us individually and in our co-parenting relationship for years if we don’t address it.
Money. We love it. We struggle with it. We fight about it. Money touches some of the deepest recesses of our being, the tender spots where insecurities dwell. We fear we won’t have enough, even when we have always had enough to survive in the past. We want to be respected and valued for what we provide and to demonstrate good stewardship. We know money is a useful tool, but it can also be the root of all evil and equated with power. Here are some suggestions to overcome the obstacle of money in your divorce.
Everyone is using the word Sustainability right now. Maybe it’s an overused word, but I’m not tired of it yet and I think it’s as applicable to conflict resolution as it is to farming practices. After a long run of exploitation and waste, we’re finally turning toward energy, manufacturing, transportation, and food solutions that allow us to maintain this planet a little longer and leave as little trace as possible. In that same light, I propose that we get on board with sustainable conflict resolution and divorce.
Why is it that as much as we want to all get along, we find ourselves fighting with former partners, family members, neighbors, colleagues, or strangers? In fact, the closer we are or were to someone, the more likely we are to feel intense anger, frustration or hurt. We want to build strong, healthy relationships for our children and for our own peace of mind, but the other person seems to impede us at every step of the way. Since we can't change that other person, we know we have to begin with ourselves.
The woman I spoke with the other day called to see if mediation would be appropriate for her. She had just received a blow. In the course of her delicate discussions with her husband about a trial separation, she learned he was hiding an affair and the costs- both financial and emotional- blindsided her. She realized in that moment that he probably was not considering this a trial separation.
“This is conflict we’re talking about. You have to show up for this or you’re going to miss something.”
Conflict is scary, messy and overwhelming. Mostly, we want to run away from it or bury our heads in the sand like proverbial ostriches. But conflict gives us an opportunity to transform ourselves or our situation in life.
Every day the news or the Facebook feed shows some fresh angle on the craziness. Devious legislative maneuvering, offshore money hoarding, oceans rising, earth eviscerating, and a full-house of presidential candidates duking it out while the Joker rewrites the rules, making himself a trump card in the game.
I haven’t been around long enough to know whether the unique flavor of this craziness is stronger or more acidic than previous varieties, but it certainly feels unsettling.