In our family mediation sessions we see people in a range of places. Sometimes people have started to come to terms with their separation, other times both parties have moved on by the time they come to sort things out. Generally speaking it can often make matters easier to resolve where you have both moved at least a good way through the healing process. Sometimes that’s just not possible and there can be compelling emotional and financial reasons to resolve matters as soon as possible. We see people who are in fight or flight mode, or running on adrenaline, who know they will crash once they have finished the process but will not let themselves do so until everything is resolved. There is absolutely not one way to deal with a divorce or separation. Everyone is different and each situation is unique to its own particular circumstances.
We do also encounter clients who have hit rock bottom. They arrive for a session and they are finding it hard to cope. This can manifest itself as tears, as anger, as a stony wall of silence and an inability to process information or make decisions. It can equally be a combination of all these things. As a mediator it’s a difficult balance to strike. Where someone is struggling you need to explore whether there is extra help they may need, you also need to know whether they are in the right frame of mind to be able to consider options and work through information. You also know that for some they know they will not feel OK until they have come through the whole process. Often being in ‘limbo’ and not knowing where you are going to live, and whether you will be able to make ends meet is in itself a contributor to feeling like there is no way out. We also see people who simply do not know where to start in resolving matters. You don’t know where you’re going to live because you don’t know how much money you will get so you can’t work out whether you will be able to make ends meet because you don’t know where you will live. This circle goes round and round for people – often at 3 a.m.
Where mediation can help is finding that starting point in resolving things and helping people to work out a clear action plan as to what further information they need to properly sketch out different options. Once they can sketch out different options and what they will look like and feel like, then they can both make an informed choice about which will be the best option. You can also map out a timetable in mediation so that you have a much clearer idea of what will happen when. Feeling like you are moving forward and making progress can be really significant in coming out of that rock bottom feeling.
Mediation can also be used to explore what further help may be needed to help people to feel better at that moment in time. Sometimes it can be as simply as ensuring children spend more with the other parent so the parent who is struggling can have time to gather information, to see supportive friends and family, or to sleep and focus on their own well being. Exploring whether some form of therapeutic assistance might be helpful is another avenue. This can be short term help in the form of a family consultant to help with particular issues that are causing a problem. For some people longer term counselling may help them to address issues that have arisen from the breakdown of the marriage. Our emotions are funny things and the breakdown of a marriage can trigger all kinds of other fears, anxieties and worries that we have kept locked up for a long time. We all need a little extra help with big things. If you have no understanding of plumbing then you wouldn’t try to rip out and fit a new bathroom, so why would you not need someone to help you with emotions and anxieties that you feel overwhelmed by.
It’s also important that things move at a pace that works for everyone. One person may feel frustrated by the slow pace but if they can be persuaded to allow the other person a little breathing space often things are resolved much more easily, amicably and cost effectively once that person is in a better frame of mind. Again this can all be factored into a timetable which is created in mediation.
Most mediators hold a library of resources that they have come across over the years and LKW Family Mediation has a wealth of contacts and resources that they can pass on. Simply explaining you need help and talking about it can help you to feel a bit better, and being able to access resources to understand and assist with your situation can greatly help.