divorce and family mediation in nyc

jennifer safian, divorce mediator

212-472-8626    info@safianmediation.com

What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath? by Jennifer Safian{4:06 minutes to read} In the early ‘60s, Marshall Rosenberg (1934-2015), an American psychologist, teacher and author, developed Nonviolent Communication, a process for supporting partnership and resolving conflict within people, in relationships, and in society. He worked as a peacemaker and founded the Center for Nonviolent Communication, an international non-profit organization for which he served as Director of Educational Services. He wrote:

“What would you do if you were standing downstream along a river, and you saw a baby floating by? Well, most people would wade or jump into the river and do their best to pull that baby out and save it. But what if, after pulling that first baby out, and a second and third baby, you saw more babies floating downstream?

Marshall suggested that it would behoove you to go up the river and find out who or how all these babies were getting thrown into the river. In other words, if a situation or problem is endemic, look to find structural solutions.

Many of us could apply Marshall’s theory to situations that occur in our lives, at work, at home, with a spouse or with a friend. Fixing the outcome does not prevent the problem from recurring. We need to look beneath the surface and understand why some problems keep coming back, even though we thought we had them resolved previously.

If we took the time to understand what causes our arguments, we might realize that they often stem from the same basic issues:

  • Control
  • Anger
  • A bad resolution
  • Never identified the core of the problem

Take the case of Bob and Paula. Bob is the money maker for a family of four; Paula is a stay-at-home mom. Bob works hard but says that Paula spends more than they can afford on frivolous purchases. At the end of the month, when the credit card statement comes in, Bob gets upset at Paula, who promises to be more careful. A couple of months go by, and the same scenario repeats itself.

How did Bob and Paula resolve their recurring problem? They came to mediation. I helped them create a budget, look at the money available after taxes, and decide together how much they could afford to spend on the extras (Bob called them “frivolous”; Paula called them “life.”) With a structure in place, they could better control expenses.

The other issues which weighed heavily on them and were never addressed:

  • Bob, over time, had become resentful that he was the only breadwinner, even though they had agreed that Paula would stay home and manage the household.
  • Paula felt that he was “free” to be out all day working because she was holding down the fort, taking care of the children and dealing with all the issues at home. The money earned was “theirs,” not only his.

So, in addition to discussing their budgeting and money allocation, they had the opportunity to better understand where they each were coming from, as well as the underlying causes of their resentments.

Can you remember an argument where you thought you had resolved everything, said you were sorry, but soon thereafter found yourself having the same argument all over again? Maybe mediation would work for you, too?

Jennifer Safian

jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator
divorce and family mediation
upper east side of manhattan (nyc)
new york, ny
(212) 472-8626
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