The Stages of Conflict & Divorce

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted August 27, 2020

Just like when someone dies and people go through the stages of grief, divorce has stages of both grief and conflict that most couples experience. Divorce is considered one of the most profound psychological stressors because it changes so many aspects of life. Even the most amicable divorces have significant stressors and consequences, and even divorces filled with the most conflict can turnout mutually beneficial in the end.

Blame & Bad Communication

When a marriage gets to the point of divorce, each person is usually consumed by hurt and pain, which often gets expressed regularly through blame and anger. Relationships that have gone bad tend to have bad communication loops, where the same accusatory, reactive, defensive tactics and words are used over and over. These loops only worsen when the threat of divorce becomes all too real.

Couples will find themselves:

  • Rarely speaking in first person, such as starting sentence with I feel or I think, unless it’s something negative like, I can’t stand you.
  • Rarely communicating how they really feel, and instead, saying hateful things to cover-up what they’re feeling, especially when it’s fear of losing the other person.
  • Becoming defensive immediately, even when something is said by the other person that doesn’t have ill intent or an accusation.
  • Accusing and verbally attacking the other person before they can be accused and verbally attacked.
  • Justifying behaviors and emotions related to underlying conflicts in order to not feel like the one who is responsible for the pending divorce.
  • Reacting to the other person’s comments negatively, no matter what is being said.

While all of this bad communication is rather normal for a divorcing couple, it’s also very unhealthy, and it doesn’t help toward creating an agreement during the divorce.

All the Dirt

One of the first areas of conflict that emerges when Denver divorce mediation is on the table is all the dirt two people have on one another. Even in relationships that were never really functional or positive, married people still tend to know a great deal about the other person: the good, the bad, and the ugly, oftentimes from childhood until the present moment.

It’s also likely that at one point your spouse was your friend, perhaps even your best-friend. He or she was the person you told everything. If you’ve been together for years, your spouse has also likely seen you at your worst, your angriest, and your most vulnerable.

Everyone does things they regret and are not proud of, but once partners know the end of the relationship is near, they often start trying to use those things against one another. These things may be used as constant jabs, for justifying divorce, or worse, threatening the other person with a contested divorce.

While there are cases of spousal and child abuse and neglect that warrant action, many times couples will find that both parties have done bad things that neither one of them want dredged-up in a courtroom setting or in front of their children.

The Big Stuff

If you have a lot of assets, such as houses, cars, a business, boats, or other high dollar items, the big stuff will likely be one of the first areas of conflict. Who gets the main house? Who gets the best car? Who takes over payments? These are big questions that need to be sorted-out, but the sorting-out needs to come from the most objective, logical perspective possible.

The question of child custody and child-support also falls under the big category of potential conflict. Each person often starts-off Denver divorce mediation talk by stating they want full custody of the kids, and they’ll fight to get it no matter what. As time goes on, however, it’s more likely that a joint custody agreement can be obtained once the needs of the children are truly considered.

It’s crucial for parents to recognize that both parental relationships with the children are essential to the well-being of the children. Child custody is not about the parents or who “wins” custody over the other party. Research shows that joint custody is very positive for children, and it can bypass the constant conflict of the state being directly involved with child-support after the Denver divorce mediation is complete.

The Little Stuff

denver divorce mediators

While the big stuff is being discussed, or sometimes even after it has been agreed-upon, couples will often start arguing over the little stuff. It could be Great-Aunt Martha’s antique stereo, or who gets the new blender. There could also be conflict over who gets to keep sentimental items, such as baby books, pictures, Christmas ornaments, and things of that nature.

While sentimental value is important, a lot of times couples aren’t actually arguing over the little things: they’re arguing because they’re angry and hurt. When one person begins to see what’s really going-on and takes into consideration the feelings of the other person and lets something go that they both want, the other partner is quite likely to respond in kind, making the allocation of the little stuff much easier to handle.

Toward Better Communication

To begin having better communication with your spouse about the divorce, start by using this simple guideline:

  • Use “I” statements: take ownership and responsibility for how you feel.
  • Say what you really mean and feel: don’t deflect or become defensive. If you’re still hurt, don’t be afraid to tell your spouse because he or she is probably still hurting too. Awareness and agreement of the pain doesn’t mean you agree to stay together. It means that you’re both still human.
  • Stop justifying: if you did something wrong, own it. The more you take responsibility and own what you did, the more likely he or she will do the same.
  • Stop accusing: even if your spouse cheated on you, you’re now going through a divorce, and bringing up the past to one another doesn’t help either one of you.

Moving On

If you’re in the heat of the conflict stages of divorce, just remember: this too shall pass. It may be very difficult to move on, but the more separate lives, and ultimately separate realities, are created by each person, the easier the divorce process will become.

Contact a Denver Divorce Mediator Today

Memories will continue to pop-up when you go certain places or do specific things, but as you create new memories, you’ll start to heal and enjoy the parts of your life and yourself that you couldn’t while you were with your ex-spouse. Contact Split Simple today and let us help you take the next step to moving on.

Split Simple

1624 Market Street #202

Denver, CO 80202