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Sharon Easley
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Avoid turning to the internet for advice during mediation

One of the sources most people turn to with questions on any topic is the internet. They research different websites, opinions, and viewpoints from various "experts" to grasp some kernels of truth or find wisdom that may help them come to a sound decision.

The internet is often the first place people look for answers when considering marital problems. In a sense, this can turn into a one-way dead end that is the opposite of mediation.

The problem with online information

Articles about mediation and marital disputes, though well-intended, are not necessarily accurate. The fault may not lie with the writer, but instead, with irrelevant, out-of-context generalizations. Each mediation is different because each marriage and reasons for dissolution are unique. Mediation is a fluid process. Issues that appear in the beginning can resurface later in a veiled form that indicates a problem remains. A skilled mediator is alert for hidden issues dressed in different clothing. One partner is struggling when using this strategy. Until the mediator assures the nervous partner that it is okay to revisit issues, the mediation process can stall.

Mediation cannot take place in isolation. A single spouse can research every possible issue, but the conclusion will often yield more questions and frustration than solutions. 

Trust the mediation process 

A partner who insists on carrying out a one-sided campaign using internet "facts" as ammunition does not grasp that each mediation is unique and success or failure depends on the two partners working together with guidance from a professional mediator. One partner who wants to find answers away from the mediation table is not attempting to achieve mutual solutions. Instead, the person is looking for justification for a preferred solution that is not embraced by the other partner. This is not the spirit of mediation; it is an attempt to control or gain an advantage over the other partner.

Isolated research does not contribute to mediation

Partners who agree to mediate their differences are committing to mutual negotiations. Mediation must occur in real time, with a professional mediator to extract issues and help the couple bring clear solutions out of emotional chaos. The mediator will help the couple understand that fairness and compromise are necessary parts of mediation; otherwise, a spouse who refuses to plant both feet firmly in the mediation process may end up in an unwanted, expensive and acrimonious court situation.

The point of mediation is to solve problems in a mature, peaceful manner so that both parties feel heard, understood and together, they agree on mutually arranged settlements. For mediation to be successful, couples will do better by abandoning the internet and working together to achieve harmony through mediation. 

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