The art of peacemaking is a skill that is learned. For some, it’s not a difficult skill to master. For others, it might take considerable time and practice in developing, especially when you are dealing with the life-altering and difficult process of going through a divorce. For couples who are considering divorce and have even already made the step of speaking with a New York divorce lawyer or New Jersey Divorce lawyer, the thought of “peacemaking” in the current troubled waters might seem laughable. After all, if you’re divorcing, obviously peace can’t be made, right?
Wrong. In fact, if you’re divorcing, now is the best time to learn the art of peacemaking because resolving family conflict does not happen when divorce papers are signed. Especially if you have children, conflict may continue to face you as co-parents, regardless of whether or not you share the same home. There will still be situations involving your children that you have together in which both parents will need to work together to determine the best course of action. Just because you are divorced does not change this, and your children will always need you to be peacemakers, regardless of your living situation. That’s why there is no better time than a divorce than to learn how to work peaceably with each other, and there is no better way to do this than through mediation.
Diana Mercer, an attorney-mediator and co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin/Perigee 2010) and Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001) offers these simple steps to working on your peacemaking skills during a divorce. If you are working with a trained divorce mediator, he or she will remind you of these steps during your mediation sessions. If you are not working with a divorce mediator, it is still a good idea to remember these peacemaking skills, even if you are litigating the divorce.
- Be hard on the problem, not the people.
- Understand that acknowledging and listening are not the same as obeying.
- Use I-statements.
- Give the benefit of the doubt.
- Have awkward conversations real time.
- Keeps the conversation going. Life is a dialogue.
- Ask yourself “Would I rather be happy or right?”
- Be easy to talk to.