Entering into a negotiation with uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing. Thinking that we know all of the answers before a negotiation starts can lead to less flexible, positional thinking. A reasonable agreement in divorce is different for each family. For that reason, we can enter into the negotiation with uncertainty about what is best for one particular family so long as we are flexible in considering available options and work in good faith to find the most reasonable solution. Some individuals chose to stay in limbo due to uncertainty about outcome. The uncertainty can lead to fear – that may prohibit productive thinking.
Here are some thoughts on how accepting uncertainty can help create movement in a family conflict.
- Acceptance: Accept that you may not have an answer as to what will work best for the unique needs of your family. Or, that there may be more than one answer.
- Create a Plan: Setting a plan with your spouse about how you will work together to find solutions establishes the groundwork for a better negotiation. Rather than focus on a particular solution, it is better to decide together about how you will reach mutual agreement. There are certain overall goals and priorities for each family. How to meet those goals and priorities requires open, flexible thinking. Spouses need to think about which process works best for their particular situation. Most spouses who want to make their own decisions chose an out-of-court settlement process such as mediation or collaborative divorce. Once a process is agreed upon, a separating couple chooses an experienced professional or professionals who work in that process. Next, the couple gathers information that will facilitate decision-making. The plan should include setting expectations about the time frame for reaching resolution and what will be communicated to the children, if anything, during this time.
- Remain open-minded: There is no singular solution to any family’s conflict. For that reason, flexible thinking and a willingness to listen to each other can lead to answers on how best to the meet the family’s needs. This also helps foster respectful negotiations.
- The roller coaster: The path to good solutions can sometimes be rocky. The discussions may become difficult at times because the negotiations are about important, life-changing issues. By remaining committed to work through the friction, it is possible to reach resolution.
- Working through differences: The tension between opposing ideas about what is best for the family can lead to new and better ideas when a couple commits to working through differences by listening and trying to understand opposing or alternative views. Hang in there when things get tough. An experienced professional can help facilitate working through differences in order to arrive at solutions.
A final note on uncertainty: Accepting uncertainty and resetting expectations about how to resolve family conflict can help manage a conflict that feels intractable. Couples can then work to resolve serious differences and build a more positive relationship as co-parents moving forward.