The best way to communicate following separation

Separating from your partner or divorcing your husband or wife can be stressful enough without a breakdown in communication between the parties thrown into the mix. Tension will already be there for both of you, on top of feeling angry or hurt, and those strong emotions are often reflected in your choice of words. Getting into a verbal battle is likely to get in the way of negotiations and ultimately will prolong the case.

The following are suggestions for a better way to communicate to make life that little bit easier during this difficult period:

  • Leave emotion out of communication. Treat it as a business relationship, with facts alone. Innuendos and veiled criticism will spark another war of words. Before responding to a provocative text or email, step back, vent your anger with an impartial friend, then return to the conversation once you are calm and respond in a matter-of-fact manner, rather than firing bullets in the written word.
  • Be polite. For example, in a situation where you are dividing household contents, suggest you have one particular item as a compromise for your ex having two others. Politeness will get you a lot further than making angry demands.
  • Communicate directly. When discussing the arrangements for the children, avoid going through a third person, and avoid using the children as the messenger, if at all possible. Do not use mutual friends as the go-between. If necessary, go through your legal advisor. You could set up an online calendar app on your phones or tablets, which you could both use to access and insert particular events. This avoids the blame game and accusations that details of an event were not shared.
  • The “I” statement. Take responsibility for your own emotions, rather than blaming someone else for making you feel that way. “I feel frustrated when you are late collecting Polly. Last week I missed the bus and had to wait in the rain for half an hour for the next one”.  Show you are willing to compromise. “If you want to alter the time, let me know and we can work something out”. Avoid using words like “always” and “never” – “you are always late…!” and “you are never on time…”. These are very accusatory and will block compromise.

Separating from the person you had expected to be your lifelong partner will change your life in many ways; one of which is the way you discuss things with that person. Communication is a work-in-progress. Sometimes it will be friendly and amicable; other times it will be riddled with tension and animosity. If you are able to keep emotions at a distance during this period, it will hopefully pave the way for a far better relationship in the future. Some people view their exes as friends, with less baggage and less issues than when they were married. Others often meet up socially. It is possible not to remain arch enemies, despite whatever the cause was for the relationship to break down in the first place.

For more information on any of the issues above, please call our Family Law team on 0113 201 4900 for a free, initial consultation.

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