Separation and Divorce: The Dimensions of Conflict

 

ImageDealing with separation and divorce where the interests of the child are placed in the middle can be stressful and negative especially when the opposing parties are far from reaching an agreement. Conflicts arise more often than not because strong emotions brought on by resentments and broken relationships cloud any potential talks of possibly arriving at a mutual agreement. For the past seven years, arguments, demands, neglect, and negative emotions has been the only form of communication between my sister and her estranged husband. Unfortunately, I have been placed in the middle of each heated battle. The nature of the conflict is my sister leaving her abusive husband of 10 years and starting a new life with her children and supportive family. The husband holds great resentments and blames everyone but himself as to why he no longer has a family. The mother and two children live with me as I have become the second guardian. Although not divorced, the estranged husband refused to pay child support despite the number of agreements that have been made over a seven year period. Throughout the years, the husband has made verbal threats to me and the mother of his children. He has also engaged us in telephone and cyber-harassment. More recently, he has sought the help of his significant other to agitate and participate in the ongoing dispute of visitation and support for the children.

The conflict grew even stronger during the holidays with the mother’s strong assertion that her children will never be allowed in the presence of the estranged husband and live-in girlfriend. This is the decision of both the mother and me due in part because of the history of past visits that had a negative ending at the cost of the children’s safety. Despite the many arguments, neglect, and bad behavior of the father, the mother and I on many occasions conceited and allowed visitation. We thought that keeping the children away from their father is an unfair act regardless of the bad blood that the adults share. Upon learning the criminal background and history of child abuse of the live-in girlfriend and past neglects, an agreement by the mother and guardian was made. Visitation was no longer an option. We learned that while in their care, physical arguments coupled with police visits, visits by child protective services, and bodily harm were factors that contributed to the final decision and to the fuel that lit the fire in this ongoing dispute.

Emotions and behaviors are the triggers to this ongoing battle for the mere fact that the husband refuses to comply with the mother’s wishes. Constant bickering and harassment does not make the situation even better. The child misses his father and the father through his behavior neglects the child. Verbal abuse is not a positive way to get a point across and expecting feelings to alter by not addressing the concerns of the mother will not resolve the issue at hand. As of today, the father is forced to pay child support after seven years of neglect but does not see if his son because of his abusive behavior and involvement with a career criminal. He chooses to start a new family with the expectancy of entitlement with the old one. The mother stands firm in her decision to have supervised visitation and focuses on the well-being of her children.

Of the three dimensions of conflict, the behavioral variable posed most significant as a barrier to a resolution. The estranged husband’s behavior in this ongoing conflict is often if not always threatening and overpowering. His attitude is brash which leaves the relationship with others unrecoverable. The constant use of intimidation tactics with threats of lawyers and other outside source only solidifies his disdain for a mutual agreement. Controlling behaviors in hopes of getting one’s way many times leads to failure. The mother is left with the assumption that there will never be a positive change in the behavior of the husband. Therefore, a mutual agreement is distant if not non-approachable. The mother believes that she is the only one acting with the best interests of the child at heart.

On the other hand, emotional variables were also a barrier to a resolution in this conflict. The father often had temper tantrums and resorted to heated arguments filled with name calling and verbal threats. The underlying issues go unresolved and the disagreements between parties raise tensions even higher. The mother at times grew reluctant in wanting to communicate with her estranged husband due to the negative feelings incurred and remained distant. Settlement seems far from reach because of the attitudes and feelings in regards to this conflict. The differing opinion as well as the responses has tainted the views of all parties involved. The text tells us that emotional variables describe people’s attitudes about conflict and how they handle feelings. There must be an understanding of behaviors and interactions in hopes of arriving to some type of resolution. (Mayer, 2000)

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