Choosing Hard Conversations

As a divorce mediator, I regularly meet couples who disagree about selling the house, dividing the retirement accounts, or sharing parenting responsibilities. From time to time, I come across a couple who do not agree they should be getting a divorce. 

When a couple has grown so accustomed to avoiding difficult conversations, they may stop talking at altogether. With connection being a a core need in a marital relationship, it proves difficult to maintain that connection without communication. 

Shutting down and avoiding conversations is actually rather common. I usually ask people at the beginning of my conflict resolution skills trainings how they approach conflict. While most attendees include business and professional people who handle conflict daily, they often say that at home they “withdraw” or “shut down.”

I get it. Home is the safe, comfortable space where after a long day one may feel too exhausted to deal with dishes, bills, transporting kids, or fixing the broken whatever, let alone being emotionally available. To add to the challenge, these days there may be little or no separation between work and home. Yet, close personal relationships tend to be the most important. While it may certainly make sense to not want to “argue” about small stuff, engaging in conversation plays an important role in maintaining connection. When couples choose to have the hard conversations earlier on in their relationships, the relationships sometimes continue or change in a more amicable way.

Whether divorce is the best option is a very personal decision. Sometimes one person does not want to be connected to the other person “in that way” anymore. This may or may not stem from a feeling that the other person does not value the connection. Maintaining a connection means holding important conversations, particularly discussing personal needs (usually needs for connection, affection, mutuality, support, or understanding). Most people would never say “I would rather get divorced than tell my partner I need affection or support,” yet often when the conversations do not happen, divorce does.

Ending a marriage meets a need as well. Considering whether that is the best way to meet the need may help. However, remember ending the marriage may not necessarily end the relationship. Today, ex-spouses may continue as co-parents, business partners, or friends. Choosing to have the hard conversations and showing up with clarity, compassion and curiosity allows each member of the couple to understand each other’s needs and find a way forward whether together or apart.

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Most widely known as Lonzo's human, mediator, speaker, and author Sherry Ann Bruckner works with leaders and organizations to create peace, resolve conflict, and transform visions into results.

From her twenty-plus years' experience practicing civil and family law, and her own personal experiences with silence and violence, Sherry Ann understands how much inner peace impacts outer peace. A graduate of Hamline University's College of Liberal Arts and William Mitchell College of Law, she also studied conflict resolution at Rothberg International School in Jerusalem. Sherry serves as a neutral on matters ranging from bias and employment discrimination to marriage dissolution and caring for aging parents. A speaker and trainer on the global stage, Sherry gives you and your audience practical skills and the confidence to use embrace your personal power to create peace. Through helping thousands of people navigate their way through conflict, and finding her own way to inner peace, she shares the transformational power of clarity, compassion, curiosity, and cribbage.

Visit to learn more or give her a call at (320) 808-3212.
Sherry Ann Bruckner

Be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.