Rabbit Rule #10: Test the Water

You may find yourself in the same position as the rabbit and have no choice about whether to negotiate. This sometimes happens when negotiation is being conducted immediately before the trial. The choice is either to negotiate a settlement or go to trial. More often than not, however, you will have a choice of negotiating or waiting until a later date to discuss the matter. This is very important to understand because people’s moods vary greatly from day to day. An offer that is wholly unacceptable to your spouse on one day may be very acceptable on another. But, this probably won’t be true if you let him or her say “no” on the first occasion.

Therefore, whenever possible, test the water. If your spouse is in a negative mood, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain by continuing the session. As gracefully and tactfully as possible, make some excuse and leave.

If you can’t leave, try to change the subject. Talk about the weather or Aunt Geraldine or Uncle Leroy. If you can’t change the subject, tell your spouse that you are not ready to get down to specifics and just want to exchange general information and ideas about a settlement. Then be general and vague. The point is: Don’t force the issue. Don’t create a confrontational situation at a bad time when you don’t have to.

Robin M. Green, Divorce: When It’s the Only Answer (The Ordinary Mortals Guide, Inc., 2005), Chapter 13, p. 199.