The documentary series Mr v Mrs has come under criticism from some reviewers for being depressing, with scenes including the struggle of dividing the finances during divorce, meeting with an ex-partner for the first time in six years, and mediation taking place in separate rooms.
In one sense, it is good that this side of separation is being shown, as nobody should enter into marriage or divorce too lightly, without being aware of the difficulties involved in dissolving what is supposed to be a lifetime commitment.
But it’s worth recognising the benefits of mediation in each of these difficult situations too; for example in the case mentioned above where the involved parties couldn’t bear to be in the same room as each other, it’s hard to imagine any method other than mediation being able to bridge that gap.
Similarly when meeting an ex-partner for the first time in many years, having a mediator on hand can help to get the discussions started, regardless of how amicable or otherwise you may be. Although this sort of situation is obviously extremely difficult, often having a mediator involved is the only way to break the ice and get things moving again.
In the third example, a couple divorcing after 13 years of marriage and with two small children needed help in dividing the money raised by selling the family home.
At a difficult and emotional time – a decision reached with the best interests of their children at heart – the couple called on the mediator to help them decide who should get what.
The episode looked at the particular difficulty of couples whose finances, once separated, are not enough for each to continue living the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed – again one of the most challenging aspects of a separation.
With mediation, these obstacles can be put into perspective and faced as the realities of the separation process, with an outcome reached that all parties can accept is fair, even if it means making some personal sacrifices in the long run.