"I want this divorce process to end, but it's dragging on because my spouse and I just can't agree on anything. What can I do?"
There may be several reasons for your current stalemated situation. Identifying the causes is a good place to start. First, it sounds as if you are ready to move forward but your spouse is reluctant to accept the reality of the separation. He or she may be depressed, fearful, embarrassed, or in conflict with deeply held values about the sanctity of marriage. The person who chooses to leave is almost always at an emotional advantage over the person who sees himself or herself as rejected. It takes patience on your part, and hopefully the acceptance of counseling by your spouse, to deal with the feelings of grief created by the separation.
Secondly, it sounds as if both of you are frustrated, angry, and having difficulty communicating in a constructive manner. There are several helpful processes to kick-start the problem-solving. First, I recommend you consider using a mediator to help you communicate in a way that is respectful and focuses on your needs and your children's. Second, I suggest you both retain lawyers trained in collaborative law who can work with the mediator to build cooperation, set realistic time frames, and reach a positive and fair financial result - with no threat of court!
Third, I suggest you look at your own priorities and consider those of your spouse. You may need to make the first move to build trust and confidence in the process. For you and your spouse to move forward, it is important to create an atmosphere of optimism for the future.
Dr. Barbara Landau, president of Cooperative Solutions, is a Toronto psychologist, lawyer, and mediator who assists separating families in creating parenting plans, improving their communication in the best interests of their children, and arriving at fair financial settlements. She is this year's recipient of the prestigious John M. Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award for her contributions to the field of mediation.