Years of experience providing mediation and family law services for hundreds of couples have taught us that unequal power relationships are an underlying problem for many—perhaps most—unhappy partners.
One partner is so determined to get his way, no matter what the cost to the relationship, and the other is too willing to sacrifice her values or goals for the sake of outward harmony. Over time, resentment builds, pressure grows, and eventually there comes a bursting point that may be expressed in separation, divorce, public humiliation, or even domestic violence.
It doesn’t have to be like that. Either spouse (or both spouses) can learn techniques that can find a new balance in the marriage, and at the same time rebuild the relationship into something more vital, more meaningful, and more intimate than ever before. Or, if the relationship is beyond repair, either or both spouses can learn how to best navigate their way through separation or divorce.
We call this process conflict coaching.
Understanding conflict coaching
Too often, couples lack the skills needed to resolve very basic disagreements that arise in any marriage or domestic partnership. One spouse may not understand what she really wants, or be able to express her goals in clear and concrete terms; or she may be embarrassed by her needs, or feel she lacks the ability to defend her viewpoint in comparison with her partner’s opinions.
Conflict coaching works to fix that. Conflict coaching is a one-on-one experience with a professional counselor that gives you the tools to deal with domestic disagreements. It’s not therapy, legal advice, couples counseling, mediation, or a course in how to win arguments. It’s a set of alternative dispute resolution skills that gives you practical methods to identify issues of disagreement with your partner and to resolve them through active communication.
You will meet with your conflict coach according to a flexible schedule that fits your busy life. Over one or more sessions, you will focus together on a specific problem in your marriage or domestic relationship. Your coach will lead you through a series of exercises and discussions to reinforce your ability to deal with and manage the conflict. Our intention is to help you make personal progress in three ways at the same time:
1) Discover and clarify your personal values, goals, and motives; express your desires in a non-defensive way; and explore techniques to decide fairly between the needs of each partner when they cannot both be satisfied.
2) Learn the difference between defense mechanisms and coping strategies when dealing with conflict, and practice alternative strategies to handle conflict with your spouse or partner. We are not providing assertiveness training, but teaching active communication skills that can relieve tensions and produce working agreements to meet both partners’ needs.
3) Achieve a new level of self-actualization that comes from more fully realizing your goals; and repair the fractures that have begun to form in your relationship with your partner.
Conflict coaching and relationship mediation: a perfect partnership
Conflict coaching is a process for the coach and only one client. That makes it distinct from relationship and divorce mediation, which uses a neutral third party to help develop a mutually satisfying agreement between a couple. But mediation and conflict coaching can complement each other in three distinct ways:
- By permitting a partner to better understand and express her own motivations, conflict coaching can enhance mediation by developing an agreement that best matches the true needs of each spouse.
- By enhancing the skills for settling disputes, conflict coaching may allow a couple to use mediation to reach an agreement on some issues that may not have been resolved otherwise.
- By strengthening to ability to listen to what others are saying and to communicate effectively within a problem-solving framework, conflict coaching may convince a couple that a relationship may still be saved, and the divorce or separation process may end in reconciliation.
Conflict coaching can also extend beyond the family dispute resolution framework provided by mediation. Conflict coaching strengthens your ability to deal with the emotional effects of disagreement and discord in other aspects of your life. You will find that the lessons our coaches prepare you just as well to demand a raise at work or request that the bank renegotiate your loan as to deal with your spouse’s unreasonable child support proposal or property division suggestion.
Conflict coaching at Divorce Done Right
Divorce Done Right maintains a nationwide network of divorce and relationship mediators, and many of these same counselors can also work with individual clients to provide conflict coaching services.
We assist families nationwide. To learn about the conflict coaching services in your immediate area, call our office toll-free at (866) 337-4448 to get answers for your specific situation.