Dec 17, 2019
Negotiating Your Divorce from a Bully: Why Divorce Mediation May Make Sense for You
The emotional manipulation by a soon-to-be ex-spouse may overwhelm you. In fact, emotional bullying may be the primary reason for divorce. Maintaining a sense of control and your sanity may feel exhausting. You already feel the anger, sadness, hurt and confusion a divorce brings to your life. So, what can you do during the divorce proceedings to stay focused and as unruffled as possible?
Mediation vs Litigation
Select the divorce option that gives you more of a level playing field. In a litigated divorce, each attorney represents only one party. Bullies generally crave attention and drama. And can give the bully the stage for a performance. If the bully uses the techniques that have worked in the past, you may find yourself in a very long, very financially and emotionally draining situation. You might be tempted to give when it’s not the best decision.
Divorce mediation is a healthier alternative. In mediation, experienced attorney-mediators help you and your spouse navigate to a resolution. With an extensive background in law, they can explain what the courts will and won’t accept. In divorce mediation, they create an atmosphere where you can focus on making rational, positive and financially intelligent decisions.
The attorney-mediator will make sure you each have an opportunity to state your concerns and issues. By focusing on the facts, not the emotions, the attorney-mediator can deflect the bullying tactics while making sure you have the time you need to bring up your concerns.
What You Can Do
Stay focused on the issues, not the emotions. Intimidation causes the brain to go to the fight-or-flight response. But that interferes with your ability to think and reason. Don’t engage when the bully uses the tried and true methods to derail you. By not responding to anything but the issues, you may actually cause them to become rattled.
Be a negotiator and a diplomat. That means looking at where you can each make concessions that result in both of you getting a positive outcome. It can start a dialogue for remaining issues.
Bring your reasonableness to the table. Make sure you phrase your comments and responses to not trigger the bully. For example, you can agree to something your spouse wants if they agree to something you want. By agreeing first, you deflate the angry response.
Bring in additional support. If you are having difficulty establishing and maintaining this new behavior, get support. Sometimes a coach or a therapist can help you role-play different scenarios so you feel comfortable – first by not responding to the bully’s triggers, then being confident enough to say what you want and not give in.
Of course, there are times when you cannot reach an agreement and must take another path. But in the meantime, you have developed a way to stand up to a bully, have increased your self-esteem and found that you can rationally think about the decisions you need to make. That’s a great takeaway.
©2019 Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation