Ninety-nine out of a hundred couples, when they separate, find it difficult to communicate with each other. When people find something difficult it usually causes stress. If someone becomes stressed, the front part – the logical part of their brain – switches off, and the middle part of the brain is used instead. This is the illogical, reactive, emotive part of brain – which teenagers use a lot of the time!

So to try and avoid this happening try these following tips which are often discussed in mediation as a way of improving communication…

  • Use active listening – don’t just assume that you know what your ex is going to say. Listen carefully to what is being said – you may be surprised!
  • Avoid “You” statements – You statements sound aggressive and will make your ex feel defensive – You did this! Try and avoid “You” statements. Say instead “I felt like this, when you did this”.
  • Be Polite – You need to establish a new relationship with your ex. And on the basis that you both would like your child(ren) to grow up to be polite, you both need to think about acting as role models (for your child(ren)). So no shouting, swearing, gesticulating….
  • Don’t interrupt – if you don’t interrupt, then hopefully your ex when it is your turn to speak, will offer you the same courtesy
  • Try and stick to one topic – if you both do this, both of you might come to an acceptable conclusion. If two or more topics are introduced into a conversation then the likelihood is that nothing is going to be achieved.
  • Don’t push each other’s buttons – you will both know how to do this. But avoid it, for the sake of your child(ren). Parents usually want their children to grow up to be able to manage conflict – and you both by showIng that it is possible to deal with anger and disagreement constructively – are acting again as role models.
  • Don’t keep bringing up old sores/ what went wrong in the past – to establish a new relationship with your ex you both have got to look to the future.

Hopefully some/all of these strategies may help you and your ex keep the front part of your brains engaged – and that you both are able to enjoy a merrier and happier Christmas and New Year 2019.

Harney and Wells has two All Issues mediators, Jane Wells and Sarah Mellish, and details of the mediation process with costs may be found on our Family Mediation Services page.

Myth of Common Law Marriage