Backseat Drivers: Who Has The Wheel in Marriage Mediation?
A number of years ago, I was on vacation with my family. My son had his learners permit and we were encouraging him to drive as much as possible. The challenge was that there were too many “captains on the ship” while he was driving. Everyone was contributing at the same time over and above the voices of anyone else. Everyone in the car had opinions, directions and they were insistent on what he “should” be doing and how he “should” be driving…as he was driving! This was not a good idea.
It was very disorienting, confusing and upsetting for my son and it made the whole process infinitely worse for all involved. These assertions and outbursts by everyone in the car caused my son to make a series of dangerous premature turns. There were also a number of closely avoided collisions with oncoming cars and other objects on the side of the road like trees and other assorted, inanimate, objects.
In this driving scenario with our child, we had previously all AGREED that he (my spouse/partner) would be the lead person for mentoring our son on driving. He considered all of our input, but, in the end, our child only had to heed the direction of our designated driving mentor. Fortunately, my spouse the previously appointed “driving mediator” intervened. My spouse / partner was designated as the mediator. He was the one guiding the process and taking the lead in our child’s driving. Because of this, when my spouse/partner reminded us of our agreement, everyone else in the car quieted down and allowed him to work with our son to drive confidently and safely. Though I was no longer directly “calling the shots,” my spouse/partner…our driving mediator…was able to guide our child in a very successful experience and helped him achieve a higher level of competency in driving. This made this weekend of our child’s driving a great success.
Over the years, my spouse/partner and I have worked out a mutually satisfying system where there are certain things he has the final say on and there are others on which I have the final say (this is a topic for another article). It has served us well and works perfectly for the peace and wellbeing of our whole family (although my partner still makes me crazy at times!).
With separation/divorce, you are not the only one on your journey. There are others along for the ride whether you like it or not. The challenge is to arrive at a mutually agreed upon destination, for the benefit of all. The details of how you got there (or the route you took to get there) don’t really matter. Style points on the way of driving don’t really count. If you get to where you wanted to end up, nothing else really matters.
A divorce through the courts is about conflict and control. Marriage mediation is about the process of arriving safely at your desired destination. As with driving, if everyone is grabbing at the wheel or shouting out instructions from the back seat, there is no clear path forward. It can be confusing, disorienting and generate a great deal of unnecessary tension and conflict. It could even be dangerous to your finances or personal wellbeing.
With a marriage mediator, no one has to “win” or “lose.” You can engage in a more relaxed process, with a trusted intermediary, with the confidence that you will get to your ultimate destination safely. We all can get lost on our way. We can all make a wrong turn in our lives with a partner. It’s not so important where we are (though your feelings and experiences are quite so), the goal is to ultimately get to where we want to end up. Mediation eases the path to your destination. It puts the focus on your future, not your past. There are many roads and many routes to get to where you ultimately want to be. Why not have someone else help you navigate where you all want to go and alleviate the confusion and conserve your travel time, resources and energy as you prepare for your next journey after this one has ended?
The road ahead is calling you…and I’m here to help you map out your best route forward.
If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, marriage mediation, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.