My best advice from years in the courtroom–as well as years in Collaborative and Mediation conference rooms–is that people should work with someone with whom they feel comfortable. If you hire someone who you think is going to be “tough enough” to handle your ex, then that tough person is going to be handling you in that same tough way. You need to find someone with whom you feel comfortable, who really has your back and whose presence will help you speak in an authentic way in the meetings.
It really pays to try to be your best self when you are getting divorced, to travel the higher road rather than lower road. Sometimes people feel: if I take the high road, then I am vulnerable. Right? Because we have all kinds of expressions like nice guys finish last that indicate that doing the right thing is a weak thing. I think that that’s really, really false. It’s especially false when you’re in a conflict where preserving the quality of relationships matters because you have children. If you think that your marriage was a mistake, then think about what that means about your life and about the time you spent with this person. Instead of thinking this was a mistake, try this was a relationship that ran its course and ended, leaving us with these beautiful children, leaving us with these wonderful memories, leaving us with these adventures we had together, these things I learned from you… as opposed to this being a mistake.
When you think back on the divorce process, if you were your worst self, if you just allowed yourself to give into your lowest, basest, most primitive instincts, you’re going to hate yourself, not just him or her, and that just makes it so much worse. There’s book called The Good Karma Divorce written by Michele Lowrance who was a family judge or former family judge and a child of divorce, and she’d been divorced three times herself. She’s had a lot of experience. In The Good Karma Divorce, she makes that point that you should write out who you want to be and what your core values are and be that person as much as you can. Write it down, like a mission statement for yourself. This is who I want to be in this divorce.
Sometimes we run into what I call the “chump factor.” I would do this, but it would mean I was giving into you. And even though I don’t really mind doing this thing, I don’t want to give into you, because that would make me a chump. That’s the opposite of what I’m talking about — get away from the chump factor. Be your better self. Even if you are the only one doing that, you are going to get a better result, and it doesn’t make you vulnerable to be your better self.