You’re unhappy in your marriage. After a new version of the same argument you and your spouse have had many times before, you look online for yet another marriage counselor. But you’re tired of failing at counseling. Or maybe your spouse simply refuses to try it again. “I’m not crazy and you’re not crazy” they say. And they are right.

In despair, you pick up the telephone to call the divorce lawyer your friend retained for her divorce. But then you remember- she didn’t speak to her former husband at their daughter’s wedding. You don’t want this for your family.

You are tired, confused and worried. Marital mediation may be right for you.

Marital mediation helps a couple manage conflict so they can preserve their marriage. The mediator helps the couple create concrete and practical solutions enabling them to move forward with their married lives. Rather than “fixing the problem”, marital mediation develops a strategy or plan for managing it. Often the couple signs a statement or agreement written by the mediator to limit future misunderstanding and show their commitment to the solutions. These solutions may be narrow and limited in scope, perhaps simply addressing a budgeting issue. Or they may be broad such as a post-nuptial agreement which address the possibility of future divorce.

Marital mediation is forward focused problem solving. Couples may successfully address conflict resulting from spending and budgeting habits, changing spousal roles, priority differences or disparity in their incomes. Success depends largely upon the couple’s commitment and the mediator’s skills. Mediators with legal background and expertise, especially divorce and family lawyers, are often particularly effective marital mediators.

Marital mediation isn’t marriage counseling or therapy, which should be conducted only by a mental health professional. The mediator doesn’t delve deeply into the past or the interpersonal, psychological issues of the couple or the individual spouses. On the other hand, marital conflict concerning security and risk taking, children, blended and extended families, household responsibilities and time utilization are appropriate issues to mediate.

The ability of couples to communicate effectively after the marital mediation is complete often improves by using the techniques learned and practiced in the mediation process.

Ending your marriage or accepting a future of unhappiness are not your only choices. Consider whether marital mediation may help you save and improve your marriage.