While divorce is a difficult and emotional experience for all involved, it is also, sadly, a rather common occurrence. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 107,599 divorces of opposite-sex couples in 2019, an increase of 18.4% from 2018.
The problem is high emotions during a divorce can be destructive and hinder the whole process. That’s why de-escalating conflict during a divorce and trying to agree on a way forward is usually the approach that will afford the most beneficial outcomes for all parties.
Here are our top tips to help you de-escalate conflict during divorce:
1. Don’t rush into things
Once the decision to divorce has been made, don’t rush in while your emotions are still running high. Doing so will likely see your good judgement fall by the wayside and conflict arise as a result.
Even if one or both of you want the process over and done with, take some time to come to terms with the situation and get emotionally ready for the process.
2. Be respectful, always (even if it’s hard)
During a divorce, it can be hard to control your tongue and not let your emotions get the better of you. This is both understandable and natural. But by being respectful to each other, you and your partner will have more fruitful conversations.
If you sense that a discussion is becoming emotional and is likely to turn nasty, suggest postponing it until another time when you are both calmer.
3. Try to really listen
Listening properly is the key to all effective communication; and that is true during divorce proceedings too. While you may want to get things off your chest and have all your concerns and suggestions heard, take time to listen to your partner.
Listening does not necessarily mean you’re agreeing with everything they say, but it will show respect and that can go a long way during the divorce process.
4. Take responsibility
A divorce normally occurs because a relationship has broken down to an irretrievable level. While this can happen because of just one spouse’s actions, it is often the result of both parties’ contributions to the relationship.
So, if your partner is opening up about your behaviours that have impacted them, don’t immediately jump to defend yourself. Instead, take responsibility for your past actions and offer an apology if one feels right. This will help de-escalate conflict during your divorce and promote better outcomes.
5. Compromise wherever possible
Compromising is not an admission of wrongdoing or tantamount to rolling over. It’s actually a sign of maturity and respect, which can help build trust and further de-escalate conflict during a divorce.
Remember what’s important and focus on what’s best for you both, not just for yourself.
6. Eat and sleep well
Have you heard the term “hangry”? It’s used to describe when someone is irritated or bad-tempered because they are, in fact, hungry. The same can occur when you’ve been deprived of sleep. That’s why ensuring you eat a healthy diet and get enough good quality sleep are both essential for de-escalating conflict during a divorce.
Look after your basic needs and you’ll likely feel better, increasing the chances of having a more amicable divorce.
7. Focus on the future, not the past
Finally, you’re getting a divorce because of things that have happened in the relationship. While it’s often necessary to discuss what has gone on, don’t dwell on the past.
By focussing on the future, you can work towards achieving the best result for you, your partner, and your children (if you have any).