Getting divorced can be a rocky road, and at some point you may feel completely out of control. One thing you CAN control is how you present your needs to your ex. Whether you choose to communicate in person, by phone, or via written word, using these tactics can help control emotions and drive the conversation toward a resolution.

1. Mirror. Many arguments between spouses are a product of miscommunication or misunderstanding. Try mirroring what your spouse has told you to ensure you understand. For example: “What I am hearing is that you would prefer to have your own property assessment done on the house. Is that correct?” This gives your spouse an opportunity to clarify, without emotion, what he or she is asking for.

2. Avoid “you” statements. The fastest way for communication to break down is when the parties get defensive. Starting any statement with “you” is generally accusatory and inflammatory. Avoid statements such as “you hurt me when you left.” Try saying “I was hurt when you left.” This eliminates the opportunity for your spouse to reply defensively.

3. Decide and Commit. You can’t force your ex to be on time, but you can choose how you react when he/she is late. Instead of saying “Why can’t you ever be on time?,” try saying “From now on, if you aren’t here by 8PM, we will have to reschedule your visit for another day.” Most importantly, stick by your statement so that your spouse knows you’re serious.

4. Get to the point. If your spouse gets off on an emotional tangent, bring the conversation back to the point at hand. Try saying “So, the bottom line is that you’re unable to take the children this weekend, but you would like to take them next weekend, correct?”

5. Stand firm. If your spouse asks questions that are irrelevant or make you uncomfortable, state clearly and concisely, “I appreciate your concern but I am not prepared to discuss that at this time (or ever).”

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