3 Steps To Negotiate A Divorce You Want
Do you want something, but you cannot have it unless someone agrees but in your mind you know that person will never in a million years agree to it? Do you feel frustrated, deprived, and well…powerless?
That’s what a lot of people I talk to feel.
Often, they want to proceed with a divorce and their spouse does not agree. I got a call from a woman once who said that she has been sleeping in the basement for years. She and her husband live completely separate from one another, but he does not agree to the divorce. Another male caller has left the marital home three years ago, and only comes visit to spend time with the children. He offered his wife a big cash settlement and the house, but she will not agree to the divorce.
The reality is that no matter how much you want something, if you are not aware of your power and ability to influence your spouse, you will live a life of disappointment. You will live your life according to what they dictate, not what you truly want.
“But Zeina, how can I change his mind?! He is stubborn and he’s completely fine with our way of life! He will not listen”, you ask?
Follow these three steps:
1. SHOW YOUR SPOUSE THAT YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS
Your spouse knows you very well, and knows that you hate the situation you’re in and he also knows that you accept it. He counts on your kind, conflict avoiding, timid nature to ensure that the status quo is maintained. In other words, he believes that your conflict avoidance style makes you powerless.
The only way to counteract this is to first believe that even though you have less power than him, you are not powerless. Once you make this shift in your mind, you are able to interact differently with him. And by the way, you are still you when you do that. Carl Jung believed that the most important process in human development was integrating parts of the self that are different.
2. USE LEVERAGE
When someone tells me that their spouse doesn’t want a divorce, I usually ask them what they believe is important to them in the context of their relationship. Usually the answers are: keeping the house expenses paid, time with the kids, social status, warm home cooked meals at the end of the day, etc. My follow up question then is, “What do you have power to take away that will cause a shift in equilibrium for your spouse- or at least a level of annoyance he has not experienced from you before?”. For one person it was, stopping to pay house expenses, for another, no longer doing their laundry. For your spouse to take your seriously, you need to create a level of frustration that tips the pain of facing change over the pleasure of living life as is. Tony Robbins explains the relationship between pain and pleasure in his book Awaken the Giant Within. At this point, your spouse may not be willing to agree with you, but he will surely be open to listen, which leads you to the next step.
3. BALANCE SPEAKING WITH LISTENING
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? I mean how are you going to accomplish anything without braving it and actually having the conversation. But have it differently this time. Stay away from the shaming, blaming, and digging up the past.
I always tell my mediation clients that in order for them to reach an agreement, they must take the conversation from surface level to root level. In other words, you need to express why you want what you want, and listen to why they want what they want before any shifts in position happen. In the scenario of the woman who wants to leave her husband, she wants a divorce because she feels deprived of intimacy, misses romance in her life, wants a partner who will support her during life’s ups and downs. She has dreams of coming home after work to a kind loving partner who will ask her about her day.
If she really listened to why her husband wants to stay in the marriage, he may express that marriage is a life time union that he vowed he will not break. He knows that they have issues but to him, nothing is big enough to break that commitment. Perhaps that he would feel shameful if he were to announce their split to family and friends. He dreads being called a “divorcee”.
This ex-couple can now have a productive conversation where solutions are discussed, and a resolution accomplished.
When you communicate from a place of empowerment, you leverage your partner’s interests, and speak openly and authentically about what’s driving your decisions, you create an outcome that’s different from the typical. It’s hard work but so worth it.
If you are still struggling, book a free consultation to see how we can help.
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