Uncooperative Spouse?


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It is common for divorcing couples to be in different stages of the process of grieving and adjusting to the new post separation “normal.” As a result, it is not unusual for one spouse to want to resolve all of the issues in one sitting while the other spouse refuses to meet with a divorce professional or even discuss the issues.

Although it is easy to conclude that a spouse’s initial lack of cooperation is an indication that you cannot successfully mediate or use the Collaborative Divorce process, it has been my experience that many divorces successfully reach a peaceful conclusion even though they have started with what looks like a lack of cooperation.

It is important to recognize and acknowledge that each of you has your own “process needs.” For instance, one of you may make decisions quickly and intuitively while the other is analytical and needs to process decisions slowly. Perhaps one of you thinks out loud, needing to propose something, listen to what it sounds like, and only then can they fully embrace that decision. And having said it out loud, they may then change their mind without making it clear. The other person may think things through and say nothing until they are ready to commit to their decision. These differences were probably the source of irritation and discord during the marriage, so it would be unrealistic to think these differences aren’t going to show up in the divorce process. But during the marriage each of you had to resolve to either live with these differences or try to get your spouse to process decisions in the same way you do. That probably didn’t work during the marriage and is very unlikely to work during your divorce.

If you and your spouse make decisions differently and have different process needs, the one thing you have going for you is the realization that “living with” these differences is now limited to the divorce process itself and won’t be required of you for the rest of your life (unlike what it would have felt like during the marriage). I have found that as soon as you acknowledge your process differences and begin to try to work with your spouse’s needs rather than against them suddenly you begin to see progress.  

If you are ready to make a decision about the process you will use to dissolve your marriage, but your spouse does not appear to be ready to make that decision, I can help. Please contact me to discuss some alternatives that can help you and your spouse begin to move forward.

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