Reason #1: You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
You are never going to get what you want unless you figure out what your spouse wants and some way to give it to them. Divorces are rarely a zero-sum game, yet it can feel dangerous for people to engage in conversations where they actually listen to each other. “It’s important for you to stay in the house” sounds like, “I’m going to let you stay in the house.” Perhaps counterintuitively, understanding and expressing your understanding of the other person’s perspective in order to be able to figure out a way to give them something that they need is a way to ensure you’re going to get more of what you need.
Reason #2: It’s better for children if parents can engage in constructive, not conflictual, conversation.
Studies show that the biggest indicator of poor post-divorce resilience in children is high conflict between their parents. Parents need not be saintly to each other in order to achieve a better result for their children. Even one parent alone can really make the difference. Even if you are dealing with a very high-conflict ex-spouse, if you don’t engage them in conflictual conversations, that can really help your children survive the divorce intact and dramatically change the statistics. (Check out my interview with Bill Eddy on high-conflict couples and divorce for more information.)
Reason #3: It’ll be way better for you, too.
We’ve talked about this before in previous posts, but it’s been said that holding onto resentment is like swallowing rat poison and hoping the rat will die. Let go of the old conflict dynamic—”I’m right,” defensive, competitive conversation—and just allow the other person to have the occasional win. You’ll feel so much better about yourself and about the end result. Ultimately, you’ll calm down and be able to better advocate for yourself in the negotiation, much better than if you’re constantly arguing and finding ways to be snippy and snide.
If you need help being nice to your spouse—and yourself—during your divorce, contact us today.