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Communication Tip:

Originally written by Kerry for tutorial reference material, rewritten for Communication Weekly.

Who gets what in a divorce?

Your answer to this question can determine whether your marriage communications will be mostly pleasant or if there will be lots of blaming arguments ending with an acrimonious divorce. That is to say, your answer now predicts the future. If you have much to learn about gender bias, sexism, condescension, manipulation, and control then it's most likely you'll end up arguing during an expensive divorce settlement process.

Here's a typical scenario:

A man and a woman fall in love just prior to both of them graduating from college. They have virtually no money or possessions. Both are estranged* from their abusive parents who refuse to get counseling. Upon graduation the man immediately lands a well-paying job with a law firm so they decide to marry. The husband brings home lots of money. The wife agrees to postpone her career and support her husband and accepts responsibility for managing the household and their children. Ten years later they have two children, a house, a vacation home, two cars, a small yacht and several substantial financial investments. They become unhappy and decide to divorce. The wife wants half of everything. The husband is outraged and without her consent hires an expensive attorney (using money that would be one half of her portion of the settlement) sincerely believing that because he did the work he's entitled to more than 50%.

The side you take now in this scenario determines your future; it possibly determines whether you'll have a happy, prosperous, healthy marriage or an acrimonious divorce, at best a mediocre marriage.

If you side with the man then reading this will trigger upset; you will argue against 50% and have proved my point. Amongst enlightened couples it's a given that service (in this case voluntary servitude to ones spouse) empowers; it's every bit as much a skill as any other. The test of whether or not the wife was in-service is the income, their possessions, health and prosperity. Hour-for-hour they both contributed the exact same amount of time and intention to the success and prosperity the marriage produced.

We tend to forget that we all have the exact same amount of support-skills. Some of us use our leadership-communication support-skills to forward others in winning, and some of us, because we have a different set of support-skills, unconsciously support others in plateauing (hanging out in mediocrity), and still others are driven to support failure and to take as many down with them as possible. The way to tell how you've been using your support skills is to look at the results those around you are producing. Seldom is one aware that they are supporting their spouse/child in failing (doing poorly in school, health, or work). The mind typically believes it is trying hard to support success; most partners resist being responsible (cause) for their overweight couch-potato spouse.

A free 3-hr consultation with a communication-skills coach can reveal whether you are on the way up or down. If you are thinking about getting married then read: Must have conversations to have with your steady/fiancÚ.

BTW: The "victim" of an unfair divorce settlement is unaware that they are stuck in lying. They have manufactured all sorts of reasons, none of which address the truth, none acknowledge their cause in the matter. They haven't accepted responsibility for masterminding the divorce and its outcome; typically couples blame each other for the breakdowns in communication.

For example:

With the above scenario, it's not that the wife didn't know up front her husband's position about money and possessions, it's that she refused to discuss such beliefs with him during the engagement; she arrogantly believed that her marriage would work in spite of the statistics. Arrogance begs to be humbled. Notice the word "refused." That is to say, she did have the thought to bring up the subject and dismissed it, for reasons, underneath which is fear.

Do print out this tip and share it with your partner.

* See responsible estrangement

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Check back occasionally for minor edits (last edited 8/8/13)

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