You want a divorce. You’d love to get through the process via mediation, but your spouse is often difficult and manipulative. They know exactly how to say the right thing to get under your skin and upset you – and that usually plays to their advantage because you get frustrated and give them what they want.
How do you stop that in mediation? Volumes have been written about how to deal with a difficult spouse, but one of the most effective approaches is learning the “Of Course Method” of handling their antics.
How does the “Of Course Method” work?
Essentially, your spouse knows your triggers and delights in hitting them. That creates a predictable response from you, which means that your spouse is controlling the situation.
To break the pattern, you have to take away their power. When you control your responses, your spouse cannot control you. While it takes practice, the basic idea is that you need to practice two things:
- Anticipate their comments or outbursts: Most likely, your spouse always aims for the same triggers, and you know them better than anybody. This makes it easy to predict what they’re going to say or do.
- Observe their actions from an emotional distance: By “observing, not absorbing,” you take their ability to get an obvious reaction out of you.
The “Of Course Method” gets its name from the mantra you basically have to repeat to yourself as you watch your spouse try to upset and manipulate you. For example, this may mean repeating to yourself things like:
- Of course they’re going to say that I don’t “deserve” a share of the retirement funds because I was a stay-at-home spouse because they know it upsets me when they devalue my contribution to the family.
- Of course they’re going to make a snarky comments about my family and blame them for our failed marriage because they know that always makes me rise to their defense.
Once their routine becomes predictable and you’re conscious of their manipulations, it’s much easier to step back and observe without engaging.
When you’re dealing with an emotionally manipulative spouse, it’s not always possible to get a peaceful divorce – but legal guidance can help you negotiate from a position of strength throughout the process.