I am going to focus on three types of conflict in family law, which can include: Parenting Conflict, Relationship Conflict, and Value Conflict. In yesterday's blog, we talked about Relationship Conflict.
Today, we will focus on Value Conflict:
Value conflict can arise from fundamental differences in identities and values. These differences can include differences in ethics, norms, politics, religion, what we perceive as right and wrong, how we see ourselves and our role in society, and various other deeply held values or cares.
Interpersonal disputes about values often heighten responses that are defensive and cause reactions of distrust and alienation. A party may feel so strongly about their values that they reject reasonable discussion of interests or compromise that would satisfy the other. Values lead our decision-making, often if we don't realize the significance that they play in our daily lives.
Values-based disputes can be difficult to resolve. Often, the goal becomes to move towards mutual understanding and respect through dialogue. The goal here is to aim for a better understanding in which the couple can reach a better understanding and acceptance of another's point of view. This type of understanding does not always require empathy or emotional connection, but rather a "values-neutral" ability to accurately describe what someone else believes about the situation.
Sometimes, you may be able to reframe a values-based dispute by reviewing and appealing to other values that the couple shares. The focus here can be on universal beliefs or joint values, rather than focusing on differences in beliefs or cares that may have caused the dispute.
Couples who are experiencing conflict can often benefit through intervention through a Family Professional or Family Mediator. These professionals can focus on identifying the deeper interests underlying the couple's conflict. Often, this is done through active listening, which involves asking questions, clarifying what you hear to confirm understanding, and deepening to ask deeper questions aimed at probing for a deeper understanding.
If you are dealing with a family law, separation, or parenting matter, we invite you to contact an experienced lawyer at our firm for more information about how we may be of assistance.
Aubrey Sherman is the managing partner at Sherman Law LLP in Kitchener, Ontario. His practice focuses on family law, estate planning, and estate administration. The team at Sherman Law LLP in Waterloo Region has over 40 years of experience providing clients with creative and innovative solutions. If you wish to discuss your family law or estate planning matter in further detail, please contact our office to arrange for a consultation. We can be reached by phone at 519-884-0034 or by email.