Relationship Skills for your Collaborative Divorce

When going through a divorce, there are unlimited resources to support you, such as legal, financial and emotional, but there is one HUGE piece of the puzzle that is not being addressed. This missing piece is essential and considered a foundational life skill when dealing with a stressful and emotional situation, especially a divorce.

Let me explain…

As a Divorce Mentor for over ten years, I have heard many reasons why couples want a divorce, such as not feeling heard, understood, appreciated, respected and/or just not compatible. As one client said, “We just can’t seem to get along. We don’t enjoy or want the same things in life.” Combine this with ten, twenty, thirty years of marriage and what you end up with is a couple going in two different directions with zero interpersonal skills.

If these are the common feelings of a married couple, how can a couple possibly communicate and get along when going through a divorce?

Have you asked yourself these questions when concerning your soon-to-be ex or ex?

–     Why did you do that?

–     What were you thinking?

Maybe you even asked yourself this question, “What is the matter with you? Why can’t you be more normal like me?” As one participant in my Conflict Resolution Workshop asked “Doesn’t everyone think like I do?”

What is the missing piece of the puzzle? Interpersonal Skills or Relationship Skills (understanding human behavior). Did you know that education and experience in life only account for 15% of your success? What is the other 85%? Interpersonal Skills. This is the gap that is not being addressed in both personal and professional relationships.

A lack of understanding of yourself and others can lead to conflict, frustration, tension, disappointment, hurt feelings, unmet expectations and poor communication.

To develop interpersonal skills, one must understand human behavior. When it comes to a new relationship, this understanding starts in the dating phase. What usually attracts you to your mate is his/her “opposite” qualities. There are two reasons why we are drawn to our opposites when dating. The first reason is that your opposite may make up for what you feel is lacking or missing in your life. Plus, it’s like a new adventure and fun to explore your opposite’s world. The second reason is that it helps you to feel needed and supportive if you can fill the gap for what may be missing in the other person’s life.

Let’s learn more about what personality styles are usually attracted to each other. Of course, there are many variables, but these are the most common.

Couple #1-

Person A- outgoing, dominate, demanding, competitive who likes to be in control

Person B- reserved, shy, sensitive who likes teamwork, status quo, peace and harmony

Couple #2:

Person A- outgoing, making people laugh, loves spontaneity and lots of fun activities

Person B- reserved, detail-oriented, cautious, being accurate and getting things right

As you can see, these couples are definitely opposites. What qualities were once an attraction, are now splitting the couple apart.

The important question to ask… How can opposites learn to understand each other and get along?

Step #1: Understand yourself first, such as your talents, gifts, how you work best under pressure, how others may perceive you, especially under pressure and your blind spots. This would then apply to understanding the same needs of your opposite.

Step #2: Once you have this understanding, use this information to adapt and speak the same language of the other person’s style to build better bridges of communication. You still have your own perspective, but this gives you the ability to understand the other person’s perspective so they feel heard, understood and respected. Having this understanding of how the dynamics of different personality styles interact will help a conversation flow with more ease and less stress.

Interpersonal Skills or Relationship Skills are necessary for all couples during and after divorce in order to achieve a smooth transition as much as possible. This will not only benefit the couple now and in the future, but most importantly the children.

Collaborative Practice is helping to keep the lines of communication open during the divorce process. To take communication to the next level, each individual needs to be educated in in interpersonal skills. Without this education, they will invariably find another mate with the same dynamics and once again end up in a divorce process. The divorce rate for second marriages is twice as high as the divorce rate for first marriages.

Joanie Winberg is the CEO of the National Association of Divorce for Women and Children (, a Divorce Mentor, an Interpersonal Skills Specialist (known as the “Communication Guru”- who offers workshops in the skills she describes above and a Conflict Resolution Corporate Trainer. She is the founder and co-host of The Divorce View Talk Show (“Live” show every Wednesday @ 6PM EST- She has helped people nationwide for over 10 years with the necessary tools/skills to navigate the pitfalls of divorce and co-parenting. To her clients she is known as a personal advisor, a sounding board, a cheerleader and a strategist. As a mentor, she is someone who is specifically focused on you and your success.