It is not always about what you say, but how you say it
During these conversations, which are meant to claim your ex (and that you will probably require self-medication to engage in), you need to be aware of the words you choose to use and conscious of your delivery. Focus on using neutral words–such as “parenting time” versus “visitation.” Be careful not to refer to the children as “your” children (even if you do feel like they are really “your” children) but rather “our” children. Additionally, avoid using accusatory langauge or placing blame. Instead, keep it neutral and even say the word “we” to show you acknowledge your role in creating this mess. Try to avoid the use of many “I” words that show you are dictating or being condescending. For instance, “I think Hailey should go to be at nine o’clock,” can be switch to, “It may be beneficial for Hailey to go to bed at nine so she gets enough sleep so as not to be a monster. What do you think?” Make the kid category neutral– a place where everyone agrees that the kid’s happiness is a shared goal.
Guilt Window [excerpts]
Maintaining an Open Window
If you can keep your shit together, your wits about you, remain cool, and shed some tears on demand, it is more likely you will not lose the opportunity the guilt window presents.
Avoiding the Guilt Window
On the flip side, let’s pretend you are the one having the affair and feeling remorseful. When I am representing a cheating spouse, my advice is equally as powerful–you need to avoid finding yourself in the guilt window. Yes, offering some significant leverage to your soon-to-be ex-spouse might make you sleep better at night, but come on!
Kicking Dog Syndrome
…find your inner German shepherd. But if your spouse is someone who wants to be the superhero and rescue the damsel in distress from the train tracks, then you do not need to worry about KDS, and maybe you do play that role. To decide which character to play in the negotiation game is part of the psychological strategy.