When a couple has serious issues in their relationship, it can be challenging to see the underlying issues contributing to their problems. A mediator lends an objective perspective and helps couples explore the sources of their conflicts and work towards positive change. They also help couples find common ground and develop strategies for dealing with future problems.
A key goal of mediation services is to address the needs of all involved parties – both the individuals and those of outside parties, such as children. Some mediators specialize in divorce mediation, helping couples through the process of dissolving their marriage and addressing the division of property or child custody disputes. Research indicates that more than half of those who use mediation services do so for divorce proceedings. Others focus on family mediation, which has the goal of helping families navigate conflicts before they end in divorce. Mediators usually have special training and certification to help them achieve these goals. The following are five key goals of relationship mediation:
1) Helping Couples Explore Their Differences
A mediator assists couples in exploring their primary areas of disagreement. One way this can be helpful is by focusing on uncovering underlying issues that might be contributing to problems between partners, instead of just on specific problematic behaviors or instances where partners are making each other unhappy. When negative behaviors are reduced, relationships tend to improve overall because both people feel safer sharing deeper emotions. Mediation helps partners understand their individual while also fostering mutual understanding within the relationship.
2) Helping Couples Identify Issues That Impact Children and Others in the Family
Family mediation is another critical aspect of relationship mediation, specifically when it comes to navigating the conflict between parents and ensuring children’s needs are met. The process involves the mediator approaching the family system as a whole rather than focusing on each family member separately. For instance, Conscious Family Firm provides a third party like a mediator who can help both parents communicate more effectively about their child and how they plan to do right by them in the future (such as with or without visitation rights). The goal here is not necessarily to reach an agreement, but rather to foster improved communication that facilitates decisions that will benefit all involved parties, including children, if applicable.
3) Addressing Communication Problems
Mediators help couples improve communication by teaching them better listening skills and helping them understand the source of their disagreements. Couples are encouraged to listen actively, rather than just waiting for their turn to talk or for the other person to shut up so that they can speak. That also means taking responsibility for one’s happiness or unhappiness in a relationship; this is known as having an internal locus of control. For instance, some people feel unhappy because they don’t think that their partner listens closely enough during conversations. However, if they look inwardly at how they communicate with another person (perhaps mirroring some of their partner’s behavior), it could make them happier. Therefore, they will resolve the problem between them and their partner without the other person changing at all.
4) Identifying and Addressing Mutual Needs and Interests
A mediator can help partners who share common interests to see each other’s side or perspective more clearly. This process is crucial for couples whose identities are tied up in their relationship; they may feel like giving up on themselves if they can’t make the relationship work (through a divorce). Teaching partners how to become their own best advocates, particularly when advocating for one’s needs and wants, helps them learn to negotiate with one another instead of resorting to conflict-avoidance as a way of life.
5) Shifting from Positions Back to Problem-Solving
Couples often get locked into a few specific positions, like refusing to budge on areas of disagreement or getting stuck in the same old arguments about who is right and who is wrong. A relationship mediator can help partners dig deeper into issues that they don’t understand because it’s difficult to identify each other’s feelings if you’re too busy fighting about whose feelings are more important. That also includes learning to work towards solutions together instead of fighting over who gets what, a much easier goal for both people involved.