Tools for Resolving Conflict During and After a Divorce

Few events cause conflicts between people like a divorce. The end of a marriage can fracture families, generate feelings of frustration and anger and makes it difficult for people to get on with their lives, even after everything is settled legally. If you are in the midst of divorcing your partner and find yourself struggling to resolve conflicts that have arisen between the two of you, there are several tools you can use to improve your chances of coming to a resolution.


Improve Your Listening Skills

If you find yourself interrupting your ex or waiting until he or she is done speaking just so you can have your say, then you may be unintentionally causing conflict by failing to truly listen. Instead of thinking about what you intend to say, listen to your ex’s words, the ideas behind them and consider whether you have failed to hear him or her on other occasions. By listening carefully, you will foster improved communication and reduce conflict.


Use “I” Messages

While your first instinct may be to shout at your ex when he or she is done speaking, take a moment to assess what was said and then respond with an “I” message to communicate your needs and emotions. For example, if your ex says you allow your mother to interfere in your business too often, begin your reply with “When you say that, I feel . . .” and then offer an alternate resolution. No matter what your conflict, you can use “I” messages in a number of ways; here are a few examples:

  • “I feel hurt when you talk negatively about me to our children.”
  • “I feel like you blame me for the failure of our marriage.”
  • “I feel ignored when you will not listen to my suggestions regarding child visitation.”

Telling your ex how you feel and then offering an offering to work toward a solution, using the word “we” may help to foster improved communication and lessen feelings of resentment that create ongoing conflict.


Lead With Facts

One of the most common reasons that divorced couples become embroiled in conflict is because they speak from a place of emotion rather than fact. When emotion is allowed to rule, conflicts intensify and then go on for months as arguments get stuck in a continuous loop of anger and resentment. To resolve conflicts that come from a place of emotion, begin conversations with specific factual examples. Whether you are discussing child visitation rights or alimony, sticking to the factual examples will allow you to discuss factors rationally instead of focusing on how the topic makes you feel.


Resolving Conflict Is a Joint Effort

Conflicts that arise from divorce can be difficult to resolve. However, these conflicts are much more likely to resolved once both parties realize they must work together, listen and communicate honestly to make it happen.

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