Elements of Peace

Couples & Families

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Couples

Marriage

We can help in situations where you want to improve communication and manage conflict in your marriage, and you want to stay together. For example—

  • You argue frequently about the same issues and never seem to be able to get past the conflict.

  • You’re worried about the impact your unresolved conflicts are having on your children, friends and extended family.

  • You want to ensure that your relationship is a healthy one; that you know how to settle your differences fairly—that is, to be on equal footing when you disagree.

All couples experience conflict from time to time. However, some conflicts never seem to get fully addressed and cleared so the couple can experience and enjoy deeper connections. If children are present, these unresolved conflicts can affect them, creating another set of issues that need to be addressed.

We provide a safe space where couples can lay things out and discuss issues. When it makes sense, we can use co-mediators, a man and a woman, instead of a one mediator to help facilitate communication. This can provide balance in the exchanges and permits the mediators to understand situations from each party’s perspective. And because one or both of our co-mediators are trained therapists, we often are able to delve deeper into issues. Successfully resolving issues between couples very often helps address issues that affect the children.

We work with couples who want to address longstanding issues and identify and resolve issues that corrode their relationship. We have found that combining a mediation framework with conflict coaching can be particularly helpful. The mediator, as conflict coach, works with each individual to help them see the situation from different vantage points—that of the partner, children or colleagues. The focus in conflict coaching is to help each individual see the situation through the eyes of others and to examine and understand the why of that perspective. Our aim is to help each party make better decisions about how they interact, when and how they respond, how to prevent a situation from escalating and when to take a break.

Through conflict coaching, each partner comes away with a better understanding of both sides and is open to a wider range of viewpoints and solutions during the formal mediation process. We also find that it can be very helpful to capture these perspectives in a mediation agreement. The couple can use as it a guide or reference when conflict arises again.


Divorce

We can help in situations where you’ve decided to end your marriage or partnering. For example—

  • You are ready to move on and dissolve your marriage, and you need guidance to move forward before contacting an attorney.

  • You need help with parenting plans, modifications and negotiations.

  • You cannot get past your irreconcilable differences, but you want to sit down and begin to negotiate the terms of a divorce.

  • There is infidelity in your marriage, and you are unwilling to excuse it, but you need to proceed with required mediation.

Divorce is a difficult process no matter what the situation. But if a couple has few assets and no children, the logistics can be straightforward—and mediation can be a useful way to quickly reach an agreement and formally petition the court to grant the divorce.

In marriages where the divorcing partners have substantial financial assets, children and other complicating factors, mediation is often invaluable in helping them make decisions, resolve differences and plan for the future. Getting through this process successfully sets the stage for negotiations—regarding caring for children, living arrangements and support payments—that will continue into the future.

We can help develop parenting plans, modifications and negotiations, and we can work with you pre-decree or post-decree. When it makes sense, we can also offer co-mediators—a male and a female—to work with you and your partner. We have found it helps create a safe space for sharing male or female perspectives with a co-mediator of the same gender.


 
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Families

Parents and Children

We can help in situations where parents and children are stuck in a dynamic that seems to repeat itself again and again. It may be that a couple is having conflicts with each other, or that one or both parents are not working effectively with their kids, or that parents are just not able to effectively resolve conflicts. We can provide support for managing day-to-day or divorce-related issues.

Managing Day-to-Day Conflicts

Everyone has their own style for managing conflict. When an issue arises, you tend to go into default mode and adopt that style. We can help you identify more effective approaches. Through conflict coaching, we can give you the tools you need to understand your child’s perspective and be more open to a variety of solutions. Through mediation, we can help families work together to identify sticking points, so they can resolve these issues.

Divorce and Parent-Child Conflicts

Newly divorced parents face parenting issues they’ve never faced before. During and following a divorce, disagreements around parenting plans can lead to distress for everyone in the family. And children are experiencing new living situations, differing rules or expectations in each household and new relationships in their lives.

We can help parents support their children through this process. We generally use a combination of conflict coaching and mediation techniques to help parents and children address the underpinnings of conflict and develop strategies and techniques for navigating the future together.

During mediation, families can sit down together and talk through the challenges they face with guidance from a neutral party. We bring our experience in family counseling, psychology and mediation to bear on the discussion.


 
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Eldercare

We can help you with issues around aging and aging family members. For example—

  • Planning for care of an elderly family member.

  • Resolving conflicts within the family about sharing responsibilities for an aging or ill family member.

  • Addressing disagreements between adult children and their aging parents about lifestyle and health decisions.

  • Facilitating end-of-life planning conversations.

  • Reconciliation in situations where a family member is dying, and you want to clear the air about a disagreement or issue.

  • Reconciliation when you are dying, and you want closure with a family member with whom you’ve had a conflict.

Many families have long-standing relationship challenges. When the family then has to deal with end-of-life challenges or issues associated with aging, it can have a significant impact on how they experience their remaining time together. For example, couples may disagree on how to care for an aging parent. Or aging parents and adult children can experience conflict with the parent who wants to maintain an independent lifestyle, faces financial difficulties or is reluctant to share problems or concerns. Sometimes family dynamics inhibit or even prevent open communication.

We help families, siblings, parents and children, and couples work together to resolve issues by creating an environment where they can clear the air. It allows for open and honest discussions about each person’s needs or helps a family prepare for end-of-life matters.

Situations such as these are often complex and demand great sensitivity to the needs of all concerned. We bring our experience in family counseling, psychology and mediation to bear on the discussion. In the end, working through the issues with the help of a trained facilitator can lead to better communication, reduced tensions and a better understanding of each other.