Why Integrative Mediation Would Have Helped Me.
In Part One of this blog, I discussed the problems with letting a judge make your divorce decisions and the painful experience my ex and I had during our divorce 10 years ago when Integrative Mediation was not available to us. Integrative Mediation is an interdisciplinary divorce process which helps the parties to make decisions and not the judge.
Why would Integrative Mediation have helped in my divorce?
- Teams that bring psychological, legal and financial expertise to the table allow the participants to make decisions based on needs and interests instead of fear. My Mr. X had many financial fears based on his childhood hardships and fear is never a great foundation for financial decision making. (More about this in a future blog post!)
- An Integrative Mediation team brings understanding of finances from a financial neutral. In my divorce our separate financial advisors gave us contradictory advice. The resulting positioning brought feelings of breach of trust that were agonizing for me and did not allow any natural generosity to flow.
- An Integrative Mediation team helps the parties create a common narrative. My Mr. X was afraid of what I would tell other people about the divorce. Unfortunately, without a safe place to explore a common story he was left with fears which festered because there was no context to address them.
After my divorce was final, I tried to let go of some the remaining bitterness. I took Eileen Barker’s forgiveness workshop. What I learned from Eileen is that not only do we need to let go of our victim stories (often in a divorce both parties have a victim story and I had mine!) we need to write a new story. We are the storytelling animal. We need a narrative. We need to not just let go of a story, we need to write the story of our agency in our own lives. Inevitably our friends and family will ask us about our divorce. They will ask “How? Why? What happened?“. Having an answer is a good idea. It’s an even better idea to have a thoughtful answer that you construct together when possible.
Most couples don’t get a chance to write their narratives together. Often people will write narratives that unintentionally hurt children and splinter communities. I did my best to keep it clean and honest. It was hard work.
From years of doing this work, I know that every marriage has an embedded story of a successful collaboration that had a beginning a middle and an end. It’s worth finding that story. It takes time. It takes effort and it’s so much easier with professional help. It’s part of the recovery from heart surgery!
I used to tell my clients that litigation is like surgery with a butter knife. If it’s your only tool to get the bullet out it’s better than nothing but it’s probably going to leave a scar.
For my divorce I wish that the option of Integrative Mediation had been available. I want my surgery performed by empathetic experienced experts. If I can’t avoid the surgery, then get me into the operating room and get the thing done with the least damage possible. A scalpel not a butter knife please!! Then wheel me into the recovery room and let the healing begin so that I can open my heart again to my family and the world.
(Some physical therapy and pain management too while you’re at it!)