So you’ve made the decision to move forward with divorce mediation, but your spouse doesn’t want to participate. What are you supposed to do? Well, for starters, think of the reasons why you decided to use divorce mediation. You’ve probably done some research online, talked to friends who’ve been through the divorce mediation process, and you may have even spoken to a divorce mediator and determined that mediation is the more economical, less adversarial, and more peaceful process for the whole family. Now ask yourself this, has your spouse had similar opportunities to discover the advantages of divorce mediation?
Your spouse may not be doing the same level of research you are in learning about the different avenues available to obtain a divorce. While there may be many reasons for their delay in moving forward, keep in mind the possibility that your spouse’s reluctance may be due to difficulty in admitting to themselves that this really is the end of the road for the marriage. Opposites attract so you may process things very differently from your spouse. If you’re the planner who can see ten years down the line, keep in mind that your spouse may not be the same way. They may need some time to fully process what’s going on in order to really come to terms with the ending of the marriage. So what can you do to help them in moving forward?
- Be patient. Being pushy with your spouse when he or she may already feel emotional and may be feeling pushed out of the marriage is never a good idea. Be aware of where your spouse stands. If you are the one seeking divorce, it’s important to respect that your spouse may not necessarily be ready to dive into the divorce process just yet. Of course, you shouldn’t have to wait forever, but do try to respect that you may have different speeds in moving forward.
- Be understanding. Divorce is often accompanied by confusion and fear of the future. It can be overwhelmingly scary to have to restructure your life and move forward without a partner you always envisioned standing beside you. So, to the extent that it’s possible, try to be respectful of your spouse’s feelings.
- Talk to your spouse about divorce mediation. Just because you know what mediation is doesn’t necessarily mean your spouse does. Provide your spouse with some reading material that explains the benefits of divorce mediation and its long-term advantages over litigation.
- Focus on your children. Research supports that divorce litigation is more harmful for children. It has negative impacts that can change the course of their lives. In comparison, mediation is a more beneficial, positive, and creative way to move forward. In divorce mediation you will work together to prepare parenting plans that are more flexible and take into account what’s best for your children. And, most importantly – you get to make your own decisions regarding your children instead of putting the decision in the hands of someone else. You would be surprised how many people are able to move past the anger and resentment they feel towards their partner in order to protect their children from the harmful effects of litigation.
- Contact a divorce mediator. Ask your spouse how they would feel about meeting with a divorce mediator on their own. Explain that the alone time could be used for them to answer any questions they may have about the process and also as a way for them to candidly express their fears, concerns, and hopes.