Don’t Underestimate the Power of Emotion

As I like to say, there are three types of divorce: financial, legal, and emotional.  Even if you are experiencing a divorce that feels primarily financial (i.e. a fight over the house or retirement assets), don’t underestimate the power of emotions.  Oftentimes, the emotions are fueling the financial disagreement.

My personal belief is that financial conflicts settle easier once the emotional conflicts have been addressed.  For this reason, I think it is important for parties to address one another face to face even if there is a lot of anger and hostility.  Many mediators and attorneys are scared to allow parties to face each other, because the initial direct communications can be heated, hostile, and ugly. 

However, the alternative, a stalemate, is worse.  All the time, I see people unable to settle until they’ve addressed the opposing party directly.  Sometimes, an angry spouse needs to scream and yell at their ex before they feel ready to settle.  Sometimes, a hurt spouse needs to hear a direct apology or see some type of remorse first.  And other times, a party just needs to hear, straight from the source, why that party is so insistent on a particular position.

So, if you find yourself in a scenario where you just can’t seem to settle, ask yourself if you are getting sufficient face time with the opposing party.  Have you had the opportunity to say everything you want to say?  Ask everything you need to ask?  And, if the opposing party seems unreasonable, consider whether they’ve had sufficient opportunity to address you directly.  If not, you might never settle until you interact face to face—no matter how ugly those first interactions might be.