If you have any experience of having solicitors resolve a separation with any degree of acrimony then you might be familiar with the following scenario:
Things are ticking along and you are both trying your hardest to keep your head above water in every day life, to manage the process of resolving matters and to look after your children who you know are not doing great following the separation. It’s not easy but things are moving along, albeit not quite as well as you’d hoped. Something happens. It might be that you get wind that your husband or wife has a new partner and you’re worried that they are being introduced to your children. Or it might be that it transpires there is less money in an account than you thought. All the careful keeping of balls in the air seems to come crashing down and you wonder how you will ever be able to resolve this. You let your ex-partner know exactly what you think and all the hurt and the anger that you have been trying to keep a lid on comes flowing out. This makes them extremely angry and all the hurt and anger that they have been trying to keep a lid on also comes flowing out. It isn’t nice. You both say a lot of things and you didn’t even really mean some of them. Maybe you pushed each other too. Maybe your children saw this and have been very upset every since. What do you do now?
Often the next step following such an incident is to make contact with your solicitor to get them to write a letter about it. This means someone else will help you work it out. They can explain what you are too angry to talk about. As far as you’re concerned communication has broken down completely. You just can’t talk to each other any more. Your solicitor may at this point talk about taking the emotion out of it. They will write a letter to deal with the issues in question but they won’t put all the extra bits in that you added in, in proofing the letter. They might explain that their role is to focus on the legal or financial or practical arrangements – not to deal with the emotion.
You get that. But you feel so angry and frustrated and hurt and where is all this emotional energy going to go? Every time you speak to your ex now you just want to get it out so it stops burning inside of you but then you get it back from them and you can’t get rid of it.
In mediation we don’t ask you to leave your emotions outside of the room. For starters that would be pretty impossible. If you could dump all the emotion somewhere then you would have done that already. Mediation is designed to be future focussed so that you can talk about what happens next and what that looks like. The purpose is not to go over things that have already happened because, let’s face it, you can do that for free without paying someone to help you with that. But mediation is a safe place to talk things over and to express how you feel. Sometimes just having someone hear that what happened made you feel very angry and betrayed can be really useful. They can acknowledge your anger and you can look at how you will move forward together. It is OK to shout and express anger in mediation. If you find that you can’t move past feeling angry then we will explore what might help you to move forward. This might involve using a counsellor, family consultant or coach.
But often just acknowledging and talking about the emotions that you both feel, is helpful in helping you define the future and how you will make it work as two households instead of one. We don’t expect you to detach your emotions but to express them and acknowledge each other’s emotions and to try to focus on the future.
For more information about how family mediation could help following a separation. Please get in touch.