3.4 Communicate Constructively



Communicating with your former spouse can sometimes be difficult. You may feel like you never want to talk to him or her again. Well, it’s not that easy. In the short term, you need to work out the key issues of your separation.

This means you need to talk to each other. You need to find a way to manage your emotions so that you can communicate constructively. Your relationship has changed, so your communication style also must change.

Changing your communication starts with shifting your attitudes. You need to evolve and that hard. It takes conscious work to move from being defensive to wanting to learn more about the other person. Consider each of the examples below and how you can evolve.


DEFEND--------------------------------------------------------------> LEARN

Move away from defending yourself to
learning about the other person

JUDGEMENT -------------------------------------------------------> CURIOSITY

Stop yourself from judging the speaker and instead
express curiosity about their views

POINT OF VIEW ---------------------------------------------------> VIEWPOINT

Shift from forcing your former spouse on seeing your
point of view to focusing on the bigger picture


A part of your attitude comes from your mental and emotional state. Remember how you learned about managing your emotions? Well this is where you’ll want to really use those skills. Going into a meeting yelling and feeling angry isn’t going to get you any closer to an agreement; in fact, it’s driving your further away.  Before you go to talk to your former spouse do the Am I Ready for this Conversation Test. This will help you determine if you are in the right frame of mind to have productive communications.

It’s natural to feel upset and communicating with your former spouse isn’t easy. It may take some time to before you are ready to sit down and talk about key issues. Don’t rush in to a conversation you’re not ready for. First thing is to decide how urgent the conversation is and if you can deal with it later when you are more prepared. Even if you’re not ready go through the next few sections and start building the skill that will make you a better communicator and negotiator.