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Political pillow talk can doom marriages

You can make a marriage work when one spouse is a diehard Yankees fan and the other cheers for the Mets (or even the Red Sox).  It’s never “just sports” to a true fan, but most couples can keep it all in perspective.

Political differences are harder to compartmentalize or ignore. The current political climate is making many divorces more hostile, according to the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyer. In fact, for some couples, politics is a main driver of the break-up of their marriage. 

Lawyers notice a trend toward more contentious divorces

In a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 54 percent of divorce attorneys had seen an uptick in high-conflict divorces since the presidential election nearly a year ago. And 41 percent attributed the increased hostility to the divisive rhetoric emanating from Washington. People are taking sides, and sometimes those political rifts fall along marital lines.

“All too often, estranged spouses will only focus on their differences and points of contention,” said the president of the AAML, John Slowiaczek. “Unfortunately, the negative tone being generated from our nation’s capital further encourages this spiral of dysfunction.”

Hiring an attorney is not an act of war

Mr. Slowiaczek lamented that divorcing spouses “seem to be increasingly losing a sense of cooperation and collaboration.” Sadly, some lawyers will fan those flames. But a good divorce lawyer cuts through the drama and steers the discussion toward practical matters. The goal should be common ground and moving forward, not scoring points and dragging out the fight.

Tactics that may have worked during the marriage (shouting, threats, the silent treatment, the last word) do not translate in divorce proceedings. You need to “agree to disagree” about political matters and other unwinnable arguments in order to focus on concrete issues you can solve like finances and custody arrangements. Instead of living in the past and rehashing old arguments, your attorney should be helping you map out the future.

It’s not easy to bite your tongue or take the high road, but striking a civil tone will carry over into divorce proceedings and the aftermath. You might still end up in court to hash out certain matters, but it doesn’t have to be a nasty courtroom brawl. 

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