In my role as a divorce mediator, I have a lot in common with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist like Kelly believe it or not!
How you ask?
- We both work with couples in conflict;
- We both work with couples who have taken a bit of time to get to where they are in their relationship;
- Ultimately, we both try to move couples forward towards a successful resolution.
The main (and obvious) difference of course, is that we have a different definition of “forward” as she actively guides couples forward with the goal of saving their marriage, while I guide them towards ending it.
Now you may think that couples counseling and divorce mediation have absolutely nothing in common. But the truth is, it’s often the very same issue that has couples end up in Kelly’s office also can lead them to mine.
Want to know what it is? Keep reading and I’ll tell you!
Taking Credit Is Easy But Taking Blame Is Hard!
If you ask anyone in my profession, and I’m guessing for MFT’s too, couples in conflict usually have one thing in common: Whenever something goes wrong it’s your fault. Not me, but you.
From the little things like “you never empty the dishwasher” to “you never make the bed” to the big ones like “you spent all of our savings on a Unicorn farm” or “you missed my mother’s funeral to go to a baseball game.”
And while I can’t tell anyone how to feel, or if their claims of blame have merit or not, there is one thing these types of conversations all have in common: they’re all about “you.”
On the other hand, just like there are two sides to every coin, for every “you” there is also a “me.”
In addition to “you” and “your,” I’ve found that “me, myself, and I” are also prominently featured in any conversation held by a couple in conflict.
When couples in conflict argue, and they’re discussing something that went well, it’s because I made it happen.
“It was me who bought us this house” or “I made that money all by myself.” Never once mentioning the other person and offering them any shred of credit for anything good that happened in their collective lives.
Whenever something goes right it was “me” who did it.
Often Times That’s The Difference Between Success And Failure
It can take time, but ultimately, if you are able to regulate your frustration, you will have the ability to shoulder some of the responsibility for where things went sideways and lead you and your spouse to the place where you presently find yourselves.
I’m not saying you need to shoulder the entire responsibility, but it’s important to recognize our own part in the relationship.
You are a couple. And couples need to sink or swim together. If one of you has a success, likely both of you had a success. If one of you had a misstep, most of the time, both of you played a role in that misstep.
Keeping an open mind and a willingness to accept some of the responsibility to what got you here in the first place, to me is the key to moving past your current difficulties and repairing your relationship.
On the other hand, couples, who continue the cycle of blame, not only wind up talking to a divorce mediator, but worse yet, usually wind up in expensive and ruinous divorce litigation. Putting them and their children through one of life’s great tragedies – a long an expensive trip through our legal system.
So Ask Yourself This Question
When you find yourself having difficulties in your relationship and are looking to fix it, ask yourself one simple question: “what role did I play in getting us here?”
If you’re willing to be open and honest when answering that question, only then will you truly be open to the possibility of saving your marriage.
Otherwise you’ll end up in my office and trust me when I tell you, you don’t want that.
Joe Dillon is a Divorce Mediator and Founder of Equitable Mediation Services; he helps client couples get a divorce without a lawyer if they so choose in Illinois and New Jersey.