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  • Writer's pictureClaire Edwards

9 Goals in Communication During Divorce

While we know criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling lead to divorce, we also know we'll need to continue talking with our soon to be ex spouse during the divorce process.


Antidotes to the Four Horsemen

Navigating the choppy waters of divorce can be challenging, especially when communication breakdowns rear their ugly heads. We're all familiar with the destructive forces of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling, but fear not – there are antidotes to these "four horsemen" that can pave the way for a more positive and constructive dialogue. When trying to work on these "four horsemen" communication breakdowns, there are fixes that make communication smoother. Criticism: Let's start with criticism. Instead of hurling blame, express your feelings and follow up with a positive need. This not only helps prevent future criticism but sets the stage for a more understanding exchange. Defensiveness: When you feel yourself portraying yourself as an innocent victim, you're getting defensive. Defensiveness can be countered by taking responsibility for your part in the situation. Cultivating curiosity about the other person's perspective is key to fostering mutual understanding and overcoming either party's dip into defensiveness. Contempt: When you feel disdainful of your partner, scoff at or ridicule them, that destroys their sense of security, affection, respect, and solidarity in the relationship. Contempt, the silent relationship killer, can be neutralized by expressing appreciation for your partner and focusing on your own feelings and needs rather than placing blame. Stonewalling: This is often interpreted as not caring or as rejecting the other person's attempts at connection. Stonewalling, the icy withdrawal, can be addressed by simply being aware of when it occurs – recognizing agitation signals like feeling overheated, anxious, or dizzy.


Conflicts and Misunderstandings During Divorce

Now, as you embark on the divorce process, it's crucial to steer clear of the volatile communication patterns that plagued your marriage. Disengage and approach conversations objectively, remembering that positive and productive communication is the goal.


Trivial Issues

Even in the face of trivial issues, like the infamous Kubota tractor case or the child's haircut dispute, resist the urge to let emotions flare up. Communicate only when calm and ready to engage in a constructive manner.


Mode of Communication

When it comes to communication modes, clarity is key. Discuss with your soon-to-be ex-spouse the preferred mode – whether it's text, phone calls, email, or specialized apps like My Family Wizard or Talking Parents. Consistency in your chosen mode is equally important.


Thoughtful and Courteous

Thoughtfulness and courtesy should guide your responses. Take the time to collect yourself, be mindful, and breathe if needed. It might sound simple, but a moment of pause can help you identify where your nervous system stands – are you ready to fight, flee, or perhaps something else?


Let the Emotions Heal

Two vital steps to fostering better communication involve letting go of the past and releasing the fantasy. Focus on present issues, leaving behind previous incidents. This shift in perspective can significantly improve your ability to communicate effectively.


Third Parties

Avoid involving third parties in your communications. Whether it's children, parents, or siblings, direct communication is key. If a message isn't worth saying directly to your soon-to-be ex-spouse or relaying through attorneys, it's best left unsaid.



Speaking of attorneys, they can be valuable allies in facilitating communication. Acting as a filter, attorneys can help maintain a positive tone and focus. They provide a buffer, diffusing personal emotions and helping determine which issues truly need to be communicated and the appropriate delivery.



Lastly, establish healthy boundaries. These boundaries are the linchpin to encouraging healthy communication. Set clear limits on what is acceptable and stick to them. In doing so, you pave the way for a smoother divorce process and the potential for a more positive post-divorce relationship. Remember, you've got this – navigating divorce communication can be challenging, but with the right mindset, it's entirely achievable

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