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The Porcupine Effect

A friend and colleague describe a phenomenon that not only contributes to the end of marriage but also ongoing conflict during and after the divorce process.  He termed the phenomenon the porcupine effect.  One spouse has his/her spines up over something,  The other spouse reaches out and gets poked.  His/her spines now go up.  The poking continues until communication breaks down entirely.  

When is it a problem for courts and attorneys and when is it an issue of approach?  A lot of money is spent on attorneys and court that is unnecessary.  

You can’t change how your x-spouse chooses to interact but you can choose how you respond.  Here are some tips to relax the spines and communicate effectively:

-Try using divorce apps with tone meters

-Listen to the message of what the other person is requesting and ignore “rhetoric” or “jabs”

-Don’t read non-urgent communication when it is received, save them and read and respond to all notes at a dedicated time,  For example, you receive 8 texts and emails that are not time sensitive, respond in one email each Friday.

-If a message triggers you, train yourself to not shoot off a response in the moment but to wait and let cooler minds prevail.

-Treat each exchange as a new interaction and don’t bring the history into it.

-Take care of yourself.  When we are balanced and rested we are much more likely to take the necessary step back and respond kindly.

When attorneys and court are necessary, Tooher and Contreras Law will work with you to minimize conflict and ultimately decrease cost.  Tooher and Contreras Law offers concierge legal services so you can plan and budget for legal expenses and have the support you need to timely solve tough family law and related challenges.


Author: Colleen Contreras, Owner/Founding Member of Tooher and Contreras Law, PLLC

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