The excellent article in the Sunday times, Nov. 25, on Post Divorce contact via electronic means ends with this paragraph: “As anyone who has ever quarreled electronically knows, keyboarded messages can nonetheless get testy. Humor, irony, sarcasm and even genuine kindness get lost in the cloud. Not every nuance carries over in a hastily tapped text. And people don’t answer e-mails from their ex-husbands the same way people don’t answer e-mails from anyone they don’t feel like corresponding with. ‘There was a moment when things were so acrimonious, I didn’t want to be textable or e-mailable at all,’ Ms. Abrams recalled. Now where is the technology that can solve that?”
This states the problem with electronic communication for divorced couples and marriages in trouble. Many a communication can be misinterpreted or overreacted to when it occurs via email or text and sometimes arguments can escalate even more because the other person’s facial expressions cannot be seen. The reverse of what can happen when expressions can be seen and reacted to negatively. Sometimes a third party is necessary to help with these situations. For divorced couples a divorce mediator who also sees the emails can help them collaborate better and for married couples, a couple-therapist can help the partners to build some good will. If partners have good will toward each other, then a text or post will be seen as a positive communication, or excused for what it probably was, a hastily composed message. Build some good will toward each other or seek a couple counselor such as we have at PARC in order to help you to do so.
Barbara Feld, LCSW
PARC founding partner
Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment.