Across the UK there is a network of National Family Mediation (NFM) services. Their aim is to mediate separated couples who are struggling to resolve legal disputes. The hope is that with the mediator’s help, they can avoid the courtroom.
BBC2 will be giving us an inside look into these mediations to see how these services work tonight at 9:00pm in ‘Mr v Mrs: Call the mediator’. Something this documentary is sure to reveal is that separation and divorce are incredibly tough on all involved.
So far in 2016 the term ‘relationship issues’ has been searched for on the Counselling Directory 57,681 times, always featuring highly in our most searched for term list.
In that time we have had nearly 24,000 visits to our couples counselling information page, with almost 400 emails being sent to counsellors from here. What’s clear to us is that relationship issues and separation is always going to be something our society will struggle with, but we are pleased to see more and more options for mediation being highlighted in the media.
The message that this documentary will hopefully deliver is that there is support available and that no one needs to struggle alone. The support featuring in the documentary may be more on the legal side of things, but it’s important to remember emotional support is available too.
Here, couples counsellor Julie Newberry shares her tips for resolving conflict:
Sometimes it is the way we say things that prevent us from resolving an issue. Too often we start a sentence with “You” instead of with “I”.
Saying ”You did x” or “You are always doing y” or “You havnt done z”, immediately puts the other person in a position of justifying themselves. They feel attacked and become defensive.
Instead it can be much more productive to start a sentence with the words “I feel” or “I felt”. For example “I feel sad/upset/worried/hurt/angry when I am shouted at/ignored”. Or “I felt annoyed when I found the dishwasher wasn’t emptied when it was your turn”.
In both cases it is difficult for anyone to argue with you because you are owning your feelings and keeping to the facts.
In the same vein, try to avoid saying ‘always and never’. This is rarely true and opens you up for an argument, which just detracts from the issue at hand. Try saying ‘on this occasion’ instead.
And finally don’t engage in tit for tat, however tempting it may be! In my experience couples who recognise these ‘rules of engagement’ have a much better chance of resolving their problems in a calm and respectful manner.
Couples counselling can not only benefit those struggling within their relationship, it can also help those having a tough time during the separation process – use our search tool to find a counsellor near you.