What can you do when your “happily ever after” becomes a minefield of conflict? When the person who was supposed to know you best can’t understand you at all? When your best friend becomes a distant stranger?
Many couples know the marriage they have is not the marriage they want. But, they also don’t want a divorce. What else is there?
If you want to save your marriage but aren’t sure how, consider marital mediation.
A trained mediator works with you to address key areas of marriage and helps you create a plan for getting from the marriage you have to the marriage you want.
When dating, couples concentrate on getting to know each other. They share experiences, find common interests, and work to meet each other’s needs. Marriage becomes the opportunity to do this for life.
Then, life gets in the way. Dueling careers, busy schedules, and daily drudgery pull spouses in different directions. If children come along, they add both joy and more pulls.
Before long, many couples find themselves living parallel lives. Rather than long talks stretching into the nigh, communication becomes, “Did you pick up Johnnie from practices and remember the milk?” What happened to the thrill? To sharing life?
Marital mediation helps couples intentionally refocus on each other and get back to sharing life.
The process includes:
Just as businesses need a vision to keep everyone connected and moving in the same direction, so do marriages. The mediator offers tools to help each spouse focus on and define what they want from marriage. You then share your individual hopes and desires to determine if there is enough overlap to form a new foundation for marriage. If there is, the mediator works with you to forge a common vision for your marriage.
Once you define what you want, the mediator helps you see where the patterns of your current marriage support your vision and where others get in the way. The mediator works with you to build new patterns that move you from the habits that don’t work and into habits that do.
Not at all. However, marital mediation blends with and often depends on counseling. Counseling helps people discern how they got to this difficult place and why they react as they do. This understanding proves crucial to changing unhealthy patterns.
Martial mediation looks forward to a different way of relating and to building a plan for getting there. The mediator also coaches you to take steps in this new direction until new habits are formed. Some couples also ask the mediator to prepare a post-nuptial agreement which puts their plan into writing for reference or serves as an outline of what happens if agreed changes aren’t made.
No—Though marital mediation and counseling share similar goals and some similar elements, they operate very differently. And, often, work best when working together.
Counseling often focuses on helping couples understand how they got to the place they are. In counseling couples may process through the history they brought into the marriage and how those patterns undermine their current relationship. Counseling also aids couples to understand how they may have created their own negative patterns—often as they faced challenges such as multiple moves, loss of job, or having a special needs child. Finally, counseling assists couples to understand their own emotional states. Through this understanding, counselors then often aid couples in building better patterns.
Marital mediation, though often therapeutic, is NOT therapy. That is the realm of counseling.
Marital mediation is more focused on the concrete and on the future. In marital mediation, couples look forward to the life they want and the changes necessary to get there. Marital mediation focuses on the concrete areas of marital discord—such as finances, parenting, life goals, and life styles. The marital mediator uses mediation techniques to help each person define their own goals, priorities, and desires—and then, through mediation, determine how to combine these into a plan for making their marriage work.
Marital mediation, like counseling, helps couples address negative patterns—in communication, in working through conflicts, and in working together—but focused on more concrete decisions than processing the emotions behind them.
Marital mediators, unlike counselors, have an obligation to tell couples about the financial, legal, and other implications of the decisions they are making. While focused on helping couples make their marriage work, mediators also inform couples of the potential outcomes if they can’t.
Marital mediation and counseling work best together. Mediators often help define the hard, practical changes needed to save the marriage. As couples try to move away from hard patterns, emotions often boil over. Counselors help each person process through these. And, help the couple find ways to support each other through the changes. With this more complete support on both sides, couples find a way to build a marriage that lasts.
“The easiest marriage to save is the one you are in.” This famous quote could also read, “The easiest marriage for children to thrive in is the one between their parents.”
Numerous benefits come to you from saving your marriage—financial, emotional, spiritual, and physical. But, the greatest benefit may come from the security and example you give your children.
Children’s security comes from their parents’ relationship. Parents divorce causes this foundation of security to crumble. Nearly all the statistics defining the negative impact of divorce on children come from this one truth.
Children want to feel they are safe and that they belong. When children no longer get these at home—they look elsewhere. To drugs. To risky relationships. To alternative communities such as gangs or poor peer groups.
Other statistics on the negative impact of divorce for children come from children witnessing their parents giving up. As parents give up on the hard struggle to make marriage work, children give up on the hard struggle to make school, peer relationships, or long-term goals work.
If divorce must come, we can help you save your family through a Child Friendly approach to divorce. But, if there is still some desire to see if the marriage can work, we offer Marital Mediation.
When parents find a way to save their marriage, they concretely demonstrate to their children they will do whatever necessary to make the family a safe, lasting place. Instead of undermining security, parents firmly reinforce that children can count on their parents and their family. From this place of security, children grow into the people they were made to be.
“Children learn what they live.” Dorothy Law Nolte. Even more true—children become what they live. When children live through a bad marriage between their parents, they often experience similarly bad marriages. Which makes generically “staying together for the sake of the children” in a lousy marriage not much better than getting a divorce. Children still learn bad relationship patterns that lead to their own bad relationships.
When parents instead decide to actively work through their struggles and find a way to make their own relationship healthy, they give children two gifts:
If you are wondering whether to try marital mediation, consider the benefits for yourself. Even more, consider the benefits for your children. For more information, email info@ResolutionMediationIN.com or call 317-793-0825. We look forward to serving you.
Have a question?
People going through divorce often feel like they are stepping off a cliff. They are keenly aware they don’t know what they don’t know. We offer answers in a process that protects people, preserves assets, and provides a way forward.
Call 317-793-0825 or contact us here.