Can You Mediate Away Your Anger?

We’ve been doing divorce so wrong as a society for so long—making it about anger, money, and the destruction of any good memories the couple shared—that I’m always surprised by a piece of news that shows that somehow, somewhere, we are starting to understand the damage we are doing to ourselves. Case in point: Nassau County in New York state has just announced the unprecedented step of requiring divorcing couples to attend one joint mediation session, as opposed to immediately “lawyering up” and backing away from trying to have substantive conversations about how to break apart gently.

Of course, the courts aren’t solely interested in this to help us all find a less acrimonious way to breakup; the courts are being driven by the overwhelming caseloads that are on their dockets, and, frankly, the judges probably understand that they can never really give a contested divorce the time and attention it would require to really get inside what’s riven the marriage and make reasonable judgments about how best to help the couple break apart. That’s asking too much of them, perhaps.

But whatever the motivation, I’m glad to see that some of the authorities who have such a powerful position in how people break apart are trying to urge couples to set down their weapons and work as a team to figure out how to reconstitute their lives, their families and their finances post-marriage. And I urge all of us to remember that there’s no way to “win” a divorce. The best we can hope for is to be able to live with ourselves and forgive ourselves the failures our marriages contained. So why not therefore focus on NOT creating new failures as we’re breaking up? Why not aim for dignity? Those are goals worth shooting for, however it is we get there.

5 thoughts on “Can You Mediate Away Your Anger?

  1. Find a lawyer. Even if you and your soon to be ex-spouse agree to the divorce and the division of assets, it is still a legal process and it is good to consult with a family lawyer at least once during the process. Thanks for sharing information.

  2. I have to say that I do agree that mediation can’t work in all cases. Divorce is filled with so many complicated overlying issues that sometimes it’s not possible to agree on how to rebuild the family. Thanks for sharing your stories, everyone. More to come on the website soon!

  3. The attorney I consulted was totally willing to have us meet with a mediator too. A good sign, I think. I’m still thinking a lawyer to look things over will be necessary for me, as I stink at negotiating.

  4. I did it the first marriage- it helped that I was the one who decided the marriage was over, and that we both tried to maintain a lot of integrity on the way out. But I am currently going through a hostile divorce that I did not at all want. I felt I needed to be removed from him while negotiating so a very good attorney did it all for me. It allowed me to be in control emotionally and keep things strictly business in person regarding our daughter. I think it’s important to realize that just like all marriages, not all divorces are created equal or with mutual integrity. I aligned myself with an incredible professional team, and that way was free to just work on my own healing, rather than trying to figure out on my own what my needs or rights were.

  5. The lawyer who represented me during my divorce will now only do divorces where the parties will come to the table together and agree on the terms. I agree, it’s a more dignified way to do it, but unfortunately, I don’t think it will ever be applicable to 100% of divorces.

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