coParents, Leave Your Divorce in the Past
Both coParents could argue that everything is wrong in the current divorce negotiations: a failure to listen, emotionally charged speech, unrealistic expectations, divergent communications styles, cultural disparities, and a lack of trust. When going through a divorce, there is a feeling (on both sides) that the parties have never had equal bargaining power in the negotiations. There is a deep well of negative emotions on each side, therefore making communication and coParenting, in general, extremely hostile and difficult. Which side suffers the most in this divorce battle? Neither, it’s the children that suffer.
In contrast, when coParents focus on their common interests in upbringing their children, which are derived from present needs and limitations, those interests invite dialogue and compromise. Present-moment focus is the foundation of mindfulness and allows you to see what’s in front of you, not what’s behind you or on the horizon. The past is a burdensome frame that rarely moves negotiation forward, leave the negativity that surrounds your ex in the past, all that matters now is being civil enough to make your children’s lives the best they can be in the present. It takes focus on the present to do that. And it’s only when negotiators are able to shift attention to the here and now that significant progress can be made.
These are many of the elements I focus on — including being prepared, building relationships, and knowing both your own and the other party’s goals and real interests. A coParent negotiator must remain patient and focused not on past grievances, but on present interests.
Excerpt from The Transformative Negotiator: Changing How We Come to Agreement from the Inside Out. By Michèle Huff, J.D. UNHOOKED BOOKS.