At the beginning of the year people seek new beginnings. They join health clubs, start eating better, and embark upon new projects. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year has also been a time for the greatest number of divorce procedures.

Often, when people decide to “uncouple” they turn to litigation. Perhaps it is because they confuse “uncoupling” with divorce. One is legal; the other is emotional. The sad truth is only 10% of the process involves legal work. The other 90% is emotional work. People willingly pay thousands of dollars to protect themselves from the inevitable pain and loss of “letting go.”

As a therapist, who focuses on relationships, marriage and divorce mediation, I’ve watched many people wonder, “Should I stay or leave?” Many see me after their partner has already secretly decided on divorce, making marriage counseling difficult. When people are hurt, they become defensive, and unwilling to discuss disagreements openly and lovingly. The result is anger, retaliation, and litigation.

Many couples go through the never-ending revolving door surrounding the litigation process, often believing that the attorneys and judge will side with them so they can feel vindicated. But the opposite is more generally true. Giving control to someone who has only a fraction of your life’s information, without the time to care, is like standing in the road hoping that a car won’t hit you. It’s a gamble.

No one wants to divide holiday or vacation time with their children. No wants to lose half their belongings, home, friends and families who will likely take sides. No one wants to let go of the life they thought they would have forever. And no one is ever satisfied with a process that pits one person against the other. It can be exhausting, financially devastating, and emotionally crippling, which is why I prefer mediation.

Mediation allows couples to come to a non-judgmental civil table, talk about what they want, and how to best get there, without expensive attorneys. The atmosphere is one in which children can trust their parents and feel safe, as they continue to learn, develop, and enjoy friends and family, without worrying how their lives will change. Trained mediation professionals are skilled in guiding couples through the painful process of “uncoupling” while keeping their dignity and emotions intact. It is a shorter, less expensive process, and neither party is required to appear in court. It is a process that is kind, humane, and makes it possible for you to remain in control of the outcome.

So, this Valentine’s month, vow not to be a statistic. If you are thinking of getting a divorce, know that there is a kinder, gentler alternative. Learn about the benefits of mediation as an alternative to litigation, and begin your new life with your sanity, emotions and the wellbeing of your family intact.

~Wendy Pegan, Relationship Builder