Top tips on how to have difficult conversations with your Spouse/Ex

Nothing about divorce is easy. That includes talking to your spouse while you are going through a divorce. It also includes talking to your ex after you are divorced.

By definition, difficult conversations are, well, difficult! They are unpleasant, uncomfortable, and are also very often exactly the kind of conversations you end up needing to have with your spouse or your ex, especially if you have children together.

You can try to avoid the difficult conversations but the likelihood is that, from time to time, you are still going to have to have difficult conversations, that’s just life. Despite your best efforts and intentions, not all those conversations are going to go well.

However, by limiting your difficult conversations to those which are truly necessary, and by using these tips to help keep the conversations on track, the difficult conversations you have with your spouse/ex should be a lot less difficult.

The ability to have difficult conversations is not a genetic trait, it is a skill and that means you can learn it. Learning how to talk to your spouse/ex calmly and productively takes time, patience, and practice. It also takes an enormous amount of self-control, yet the benefits can be huge.

Being able to talk to your spouse/ex does wonders for your emotional health and your blood pressure. You will become a better parent. You will also have happier children because they will not feel like they are caught in the middle all the time.

You will also need to learn how to have BIFF conversations. (B.I.F.F. stands for brief, informative, friendly and firm).

So here are some top tips to help you:


1.           Know your point and keep your objective in mind

2.           Have the conversation in a neutral place

3.           Prepare in advance

4.           Stick to the facts

5.           Avoid name calling, accusations, finger pointing, etc.

6.           Keep your eye on the goal

7.           Listen

8.           Go into the conversation with an open mind

9.           Acknowledge feelings

10.         Do not try and be right – always focus on your objective


Know your objective before you have the conversation. Do you need to tell your spouse/ex something important about your children? Are you trying to persuade your spouse/ex to do something? Are you facing a problem that only both of you can solve?

What do you hope to accomplish by having this conversation? If you do not have a very specific reason to dive into a difficult conversation with your spouse/ex, then why do it?

Know what you want to say, and how you want to say it. Write down your key points. Try to anticipate your spouse/ex’s responses to your key points. Then practice your conversation and you will feel better prepared and more confident when you actually do have the conversation that you have decided needs to happen.

Many people will come to family mediation so that a qualified mediator can help them have a difficult conversation together. In meetings the mediator will help people discuss the issues that need to be resolved. If we can help you with this call us on 0800 206 2258 or email us at


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