Ask for what you need—Mind readers are hard to find!

Aug 13, 2020

In our house, we keep a shopping list for the next person who goes out to buy groceries. I’m not the best at putting things on that list, and so when my wife has returned from shopping and something I needed wasn’t purchased, I have only myself to blame—how could I expect her to read my mind about something I wanted?

When I am meeting with clients in divorce mediation, I encourage them to make their own list of personal needs as they plan their futures. More importantly, I urge each to be certain to speak up about any specific request that will require a spouse’s agreement.

When divorce mediation ends, a legally binding document spelling out all agreements on parenting, division of property, child support, spousal support and related financial issues will be prepared and signed. This is a final agreement. It can only be changed if both agree to do so, which may or may not happen, depending on how each feels about the proposed change.

Don’t be the person who forgot to ask. Your spouse is probably not a mind reader, and neither is your mediator.

I want my clients to get it right the first time—and part of getting it right is knowing what you want and asking for it. I’m not saying that you’ll always get everything you ask for, but I do know that you probably won’t get anything that you don’t ask for.

Don’t be the person who forgot to ask. Your spouse is probably not a mind reader, and neither is your mediator.

Here are some examples of needs you may want to include on your personal list:

  • Parenting arrangements that promote stability and parental involvement
  • Ways of keeping extended families connected to the children
  • Short and long term financial concerns
  • Distribution of complex assets like businesses and retirement accounts
  • Maintaining the children’s standard of living after the separation

A famous politician early in his career lost an election by one vote. The next day, when his next-door neighbor told him that she had not voted for him, the disappointed politician asked, “Why not?” His neighbor replied, “Because you never asked me to.”