Communication is a major issue when it comes to marriage. In fact, communication helps keep a marriage together. When a couple ignores each other or cannot talk to each other without an argument, then it does not bode well for the marriage. So maybe you get a divorce. But if you and your ex-spouse have kids together, then you will need to communicate with each other to some degree after the divorce. How does that work if you two never communicated well to begin worth?
The thing to remember is that while communication is necessary for a strong marriage, the way you communicate after a divorce is different. In a marriage, communication is verbal and nonverbal. The aim is to not only be understood by your partner but to also feel close and be connected to them. To communicate effectively in a marriage, use the acronym THINK:
T: True. Is what you’re saying true? Is it a fact or are you just sharing an opinion?
H: Helpful. Are you using your words to be helpful or are you criticizing or insulting?
I: Inspiring. Does the other person want to respond?
N: Necessary. Is what you are saying something that is important and needs to be said?
K: Kind. Are you being respectful and kind with your words?
After a divorce, though, the reason for communication changes. You no longer need to feel close or connected to the other person. You just want to tell them what they need to know and that’s it. Easy enough. Treat communication as a business transaction. Use the acronym BIFF:
Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm.
The goal is respectful communication that is brief and stays on point. The communication should focus on a solution or solve a problem. Make sure you are adequately sharing information about your children, as this will make them feel loved and keep them from feeling caught in the middle.
There are three main ways to communicate after a divorce:
- Texts. Texts are quick and easy, and they are ideal for urgent communication as well as logistics issues. They’re good if you’re running late or are taking a kid to the doctor, for example, and need to let the other parent know quickly. It’s a good idea to respond to a text within several hours, even with a simple ‘Got it” to acknowledge receipt of the message.
- Voicemails. Voicemails are better for non-urgent communication and lengthier topics that cannot be easily expressed via text. Keep in mind that because there is no written record of a voicemail, it should not be used for time-sensitive issues. A good rule of thumb is to respond within 12 hours via email.
- Emails. Emails are good for informational communication that’s not urgent. An example would be a change in visitation for the next month or perhaps holiday plans. Responses should be sent within 24 hours.
Good Communication is Key
Communication comes in two main forms: verbal and nonverbal. Verbal communication means choosing the right words to convey your message. Are you using words that are articulate and accurate? Are you being direct in saying what you want to say? Or are you instead being vague and dishonest because you are scared to express your true feelings?
Nonverbal communication has to do with your behavior, body movements, and facial expressions. It’s important to know that you are always communicating in some form or another — even when you think you’re not. Nonverbal communication such as avoiding eye contact, blushing, eye-rolling, and sighing are all actions that also convey messages.
Even if you are intentionally ignoring your partner, that is called stonewalling and it is a communication technique that often leads to divorce. Listening is a much better nonverbal communication tool. By actively listening, you are communicating your interest via eye contact and nodding your head. Good listening means allowing your partner to say what they want to say. Listening is often more important than talking.
Communicating well is not always easy, but if you keep actively working on it, you will get better over time. The nice thing about communication is that it is useful in all relationships. Whether you are dealing with your boss at work, handling a customer issue, talking to your parents, discussing a situation with your children, or chatting with your siblings or cousins, good communication skills can improve all these relationships.
Contact Us Today
If you struggled with communication while married, then you may wonder how you’ll communicate well after divorce. The trick is that things are different when you divorce.
The Columbus divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law Office can help you facilitate an amicable divorce when issues such as child custody and child support are at play. To schedule a consultation with our office, call 614-228-3664 or fill out the online form.