Catherine Hyde

Family Law Clerk

Often we receive emails from clients providing copies of emails they have received from their spouse relating to custody and access issues or money problems.  The intent is to show us how unco-operative the other party is being.  The end result is often a litany of email exchanges between the parties with rising anger in each email as each one responds to the “button” the other pushed.

Face it your spouse knows you well.  They know what to say that is going to set you off.  Responding to that is simply going to increase the animosity between the two of you.  Here are some suggestions for communicating with your spouse through email:

  1. Remember that your response will also likely be forwarded to their lawyer.
  2. Know that they are trying to push your buttons and try not to respond to the triggers.  Review the email for the actual facts and address those issues only trying to leave any emotions out of your response
  3. Be concise – stick to the facts
  4. Don’t recite or dwell on past hurts in your email – address the current situation
  5. Be positive – don’t show your anger or frustration
  6. Watch your tone – people read into email messages feelings you may not thave intended to express
  7. Wait to respond – if the email makes you angry when you receive it – walk  away – come back to respond only after you have calmed down and can  be objective
  8. Remember you catch more flies with honey than vinegar – do not criticize the other person – take the high road

 These suggestions should also be used in texting your spouse.

I came across two excellent articles on communication between spouses – High Conflict Divorce Tip #2: Avoid Reactivity by Brave, Weber&Mack  and  Reflections of a Divorce Lawyer: The Utility (and Not) of Email Exchanges Between Spouses as Evidence by Carlos Garcia

Keep all of these tips in mind the next time you receive that email or text from your spouse that sends you into a tail spin. Be the person to stop the conflict and address the issues only.