Reconciliation Instead Of Divorce: Using Mediation To Save A Marriage

William Doherty, a psychologist and professor at the University of Minnesota, has completed research on how married couples decide whether to divorce or not.  Results of a survey of 2,484 Minnesota parents who filed for divorce demonstrate that a shocking 25 percent of parents still thought there was hope to save the marriage.  In a subset of 329 couples, twelve percent of both couples independently expressed an interest in reconciling.

Could that mean that a significant number of divorces could have been averted if the parties talked and were open about their hopes for reconciliation?  Perhaps one or both parties’ egos get in the way of reconciliation – one party thinks the other party wants the divorce and does not want to be rejected if he/she broaches the topic of reconciliation.

Couples considering divorce may first want to explore reconciliation mediation.  Reconciliation mediation is a way to discuss the issues confronting a couple in a neutral environment with a trained conflict resolution professional.  The mediator, who is not a counselor and who uses a different skill set than a counselor, works with couples to discuss and resolve their issues.

In a study of 866 divorcing Minnesota residents, it was determined the most common contributing factors to a divorce were:  growing apart (55 percent); unable to talk together (52.7 percent); money issues (40.3 percent); spouse’s personal problems (36.8 percent); (not getting enough attention (34.1 percent); and infidelity (34 percent).  Dr. Doherty found that even infidelity was not a barrier to saving a marriage where the parties were interested in reconciliation.  All issues can be discussed in mediation.

Sometimes the couple leaves mediation with binding agreements on how they will, for example, address pressing money issues.  Sometimes the couple leaves with a better understanding of their respective concerns and the most productive way to address them.  If the couple ultimately decides to divorce, they can use the mediator to complete their divorce in an amicable manner.

A marriage seems hopeless, or it may appear that the grass just appears to be greener on the other side.  However, as noted by psychologist Dr. Susan Heitler:  “[I]t’s radically cheaper emotionally, as well as financially, to fix the marriage than to declare it dead.”

Reference:  “Some couples pull back from the edge of divorce.” By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY

Alona M. Gottfried is a family law and reconciliation mediator and attorney in Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions. 

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

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