New Jersey Divorce Attorney Sylvia S. Costantino gives her perspective on conquering conflict in a divorce.

New Year’s brings resolutions aplenty, but how many are truly about self-reflection? Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to get in shape physically, find a better job, have more money, get a college education, beat a bad habit – you get the picture. But what about making this New Year’s resolution about self-reflection of the conflicts that surround you and finding ways to resolve them? In turn, I suspect you may stand to learn some things about yourself that you did not know.

What exactly is “conflict?” If we look beyond our own backyard, we see that the very universe is constantly in conflict. Conflict between human beings, i.e. war, conflict between human beings with nature, i.e. natural disasters, and so on. We cannot turn on the news without every word spoken being about some sort of conflict in the world. Without conflict, essentially there would be no such thing as divorce and everyone would stay blissfully married. Unfortunately, that’s not reality and conflicted, broken marriages, abound.

As a divorce attorney mired in the conflict of others all day long, I find the very topic to be intriguing on so many levels. The type of conflict that I reference here is the often acrimonious push and pull between divorcing spouses, sometimes to the point of domestic violence. Conflict can drive a litigated case to the point where it takes on a life of its own -- out of control in every way imaginable. Where good people, once in love enough to marry and procreate with one another, have turned a broken marriage into conflict akin to war between small nations. Name-calling, finger pointing, and character assignations become a daily chore that each must now endure to one up the other or lose the “fight.” But where does this type of conflict derive from?

In the case of a failed marriage, I believe that conflict is born out of and fueled by failing to own up to one’s own role in the demise of a marriage. We are by nature, inherently flawed beings and most of the time inept at self-examination. But remember my saying that marriage is like being “two halves of the whole?” Well, it also takes two people to be in conflict with one another. We may stubbornly refuse to see it, but don’t we stand to gain so much by examining what our own shortcomings are and fixing them? Until you own your place in a failed marriage and truly start hearing your soon-to-be ex’s “voice” as a parent and individual, you will stay mired in conflict.

I invite you to make your New Year’s resolution a promise to yourself to bring civility back into your life and the divorce you may be going through. Through self-reflection and mindfulness we can turn the tables on conflict and bring it within our control. As a result, I believe that you will come away with the best possible divorce settlement, integrity, and the ability to stay true to the good within you.

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