A Recipe to Make the Holidays Happier

Barbara Badolato

Barbara Badolato

Ingredients: managed expectations, sensitivity, self-care and gratitude.

The holidays are usually a time to feel overloaded and under-appreciated. That is especially true of people going through a separation or divorce. Advance planning, finesse and flexibility are required to make the holidays a more joyful time for yourself and your children.

Let’s take the first ingredient – managed expectations. This includes your own. If you are constantly comparing this year’s holidays with holidays past when times perhaps were happier and calmer, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. If you’re not particularly in the holiday spirit, give yourself permission to forego some of the festivities, where possible. Just let the hosts know in advance.

When children are involved, it’s important to prepare them in advance. Discuss plans, including where they’ll be spending the holidays, and in the case of older children, give them a say. Then, don’t deviate from those plans unexpectedly. The same holds true for gift-giving: Let the kids know you’ve got a budget, then stick to it. Promising them gifts you cannot afford won’t soften the blow of the divorce and will only put you in a financial hole. If you’ll be spending the holiday with your former spouse, make it clear to your kids this in no way signals you’re getting back together, but that you both still want to enjoy the holidays with them.

Read the rest of Barbara’s article for more strategies to have happier holidays.

The Decision Layer Cake

David Louis

David Louis

I’ve previously written how many divorcing couples are involved with each other in a relationship “layer cake”.

Just as we can’t see the layers of the cake beneath the frosting, and need to take a slice to see how many layers there are, I observe clients that struggle in recognizing that addressing the separate layers in their relationship may require separate decisions and plans.

Helping clients to understand their relationship layer cake can be an effective role for a mediator who is a neutral in the room. Observation and analysis without judgment can often keep a difficult situation from boiling over. Read the rest of David’s article to learn how mediation helped one couple with decision making.

The “Good Enough” Settlement Agreement

Susan Ingram

Susan Ingram

Exactly what do I mean by a “good-enough” settlement agreement? Although it’s an amusing and somewhat awkward phrase, in the context of family mediation, it has some very positive attributes.

Be sure to read Susan’s article to learn why a “good-enough” agreement is better than a “perfect” one.

Why Is a Divorce Mediator like a Car Mechanic?

Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov

A car mechanic:
– Has all the right tools
– Has been trained
– Keeps up with the latest changes and software for their computerized equipment, etc.
That’s what makes for a successful mechanic, right? No, not exactly. In my opinion, the most important skill for a car mechanic to have is the ability to diagnose the problem.

A divorce mediator:
– Has all the right trainings
– Keeps up with the most current thinking regarding issues and divorce
– Instills confidence and trust in their clients that you’ll get the job done in an efficient manner, etc.
That’s what makes for a successful divorce mediation, right? No, not exactly. In my opinion, like the car mechanic, the most important skill that a divorce mediator has is the ability to diagnose the underlying issues important to each spouse and how we can meet those needs and create an agreement.

Find out more by reading the rest of Don’s article.

Are You Angry or Are You Bitter?

Clare Piro

Clare Piro

The definitions of anger and bitterness are similar:
- Anger: a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
- Bitterness: anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment.
They may be similar, but to me, they are worlds apart.

I see anger as something that is of relatively short duration; a totally human and appropriate response to someone hurting you, or someone you love. Something happens, you get angry, you hopefully express that anger constructively, and it eventually dissipates. Bitterness, on the other hand, I see as something that is a little darker; and all encompassing. To me, bitterness doesn’t go away easily – instead it festers and begins to infect your general outlook on life.

Read the rest of Clare’s article to learn how anger and bitterness can impact your ability to move forward with your life after divorce.

Legal Advice vs. Legal Information: Are two attorneys better than one?

Daniel Burns

Daniel Burns

This is the story of two couples who each wanted to end their marriage without becoming engaged in a lengthy and costly court battle. Unfortunately, they each obtained a very different result because of the way that their respective divorce mediators handled the matter.

Read Dan’s article to see how two different paths can lead to very different results.

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