Marriage is largely driven by emotion, but divorce is — at its core — all business. You and your spouse have to negotiate a lot of details surrounding the division of your property, support and (if you’re parents) custody of the children.
It’s only natural, however, to dread the thought of sitting down to negotiate with someone when you really don’t even want to be in the same room with them — especially if they tend to be hard-driven negotiators and prone to being manipulative.
How do you cope? You learn to recognize the signs that you’re being “played” so that you don’t fall into their trap. Here are three common manipulation tactics:
The shocked look
A look of utter surprise or visible shock on your spouse’s face when you tell them what you’d like to see happen with the division of your assets or another issue can be enough to reinforce the idea that you’re being unreasonable and asking too much.
Instead of backing down right away, recognize that your spouse probably knew what you wanted before you even started talking. It’s a ploy.
The “foot in the door” tactic
Psychologically, people are more likely to agree to something big when they’ve already agreed to something small. If your spouse asks for a small concession that seems trivial enough, their next request may reveal what they’re really trying to get. Take that information to heart — but don’t agree to anything until you see what you can get in return.
The “door in the face” tactic
This is sort of the flip side of the “foot in the door” tactic. Your spouse may make an outrageous demand that they fully expect you to refuse. Then they’ll follow it up with a false compromise that they (hope) will seem much more reasonable. Assume that what they’re offering the second time is what they really want to get and use that as a starting point for your negotiations.
Remember that you can get help as you negotiate the end of your marriage. An attorney can guide you through the process, help you understand all the potential solutions to any sticking points and protect your interests.