By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT

Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don't go to the ocean with a teaspoon.
At least take a bucket so the kids won't laugh at you.-- Jim Rohn

We receive many a call from a spouse seeking information regarding the mediation process as an option for divorce. They may have read an article, seen an ad, come across a website, or turned onto mediation by a friend. Often they have not yet spoken with their spouse about it. If it makes sense, how do you invite your spouse to join with you in mediation?

The difficulty is proportional to the trust, communication skills and emotional temperature within the couple. In preparation for the invitation to mediate, consider the positives of this path: it’s private, far less expensive than litigation, the two of you are in control of the pace, cost and outcome of the mediation, and it’s less traumatizing, especially when children are involved. It is also confidential: discussions in mediation cannot be used against you if mediation is unsuccessful.

Consider what will help your spouse to make his or her OWN decision about mediation. References to websites, brochures, or a referral from a mutually trusted third person can be supportive of your spouse becoming informed but not pressured. Encourage him or her to do his or her own research.

Enhance the potential environment for mediation by letting them know you are open to negotiate a fair settlement; that since it is voluntary, it is worth a try; give them some time to reflect and consider with a proposed date to talk again after they have had a chance to look into mediation.

Other factors to contemplate are the timing of the invitation. Bringing up new ideas in the heat of an argument rarely are well received. Don’t be adamant. A person is more likely to entertain an idea if they feel they are free to make a choice. For some, a face-to-face conversation during the pre-divorce phase may not work best. Consider emails that encompass the ideas presented here, or even a note asking your spouse to “think about it,” or perhaps just a link to a mediation website like ours.

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