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Mediation when your needs aren't being met

Posted by Elizabeth Steen | Aug 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Most people have had years, sometimes decades, of unmet needs in their relationship before they decide to divorce. Unmet needs are suffocating and exhausting. Almost everyone who has an unmet need will try one of two approaches. Either they try to get their needs met by explaining (usually over and over and over and over) why they have the need, how the need could be met, why it makes sense, what is logical about it, how it makes them feel, and so on. Or they just avoid the other partner. 

In a mediation, neither of those approaches will be helpful. The mediator's job is to turn the partners toward the future, and essentially away from each other. Instead of battering down defenses, on the one hand, or avoiding any decisions, on the other, both parties focus instead on themselves, and what they need. This helps both parties get their needs without facing a loss. They can't get what they need from the other person, but there usually is a way to get what they need from the overall situation. 

For example, in a partnership where one parent wanted a strict budget, and the other has inconsistent income, both parties will have the chance to let go of what they "should" do. Both parents will eventually be in charge of their own household after they separate their finances. So the trick during the transition is to find a way to keep the overall child support amount consistent enough for the one parent who needs to know what to expect, while still achievable for the other parent who doesn't always know how much they're going to earn each month. To do this, the mediator can help fact check, test assumptions, break down problems into manageable chunks, and otherwise just move forward without blame or any "shoulds." The shoulds don't matter any longer. Now it's only about what the parents can do, and what they want to do. 

This is how you move forward together, into a co-parenting relationship. And I've found that both parents usually relax and feel a lot better when a problem that seems overwhelming because of all the emotion attached to it - every disappointment, past hurt, and all the feelings around the situation - are broken down into manageable parts. Both parents can also relax a little because the unmet needs are now being met.

Everyone feels better when they're no longer in a relationship where their needs aren't being met. Sitting down together in mediation, with a third party to keep the balance, is the first step to finally feeling relief and a chance to move on. 

Call 206-747-3029 for a free consultation today. Your divorce is in your hands. 

About the Author

Elizabeth Steen

Elizabeth Steen is licensed in Washington State as well as Washington D.C. After work, Elizabeth enjoys making her West Seattle renowned flan recipe with her daughter, which she’s willing to share with favorite clients. She also enjoys hiking, yoga and chasing her family’s fantasy football league title every fall.


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