Two stories:
In the first, Jack relates that his ex-wife is a demented narcissistic witch from hell. He’s had a horrible divorce, he fears his child’s affection is being co-opted by her new stepfather, and his life is miserable, worse in fact than it had been before the divorce. I suspect his ex-wife shares in his unhappiness.
A year later Jack reports that he and his ex are getting along so well that she has called him for help and advice over a parenting issue. Jack is happier than he’s been in years, and he no longer fears his child is being co-opted.
No doubt Jack’s ex did change, but only after Jack invested a lot of work in learning how to listen, how to suppress his natural reactivity, and how to express himself in a non-threatening manner. In relationships, you reap what you sow.
Jack’s story has a happy ending, but it could have come sooner.
In the second, Angela has maxed out her credit cards, borrowed from her family, and still owes her attorneys thousands of dollars for a collaborative divorce process that involved two attorneys, two financial advocates, a financial neutral, and a child advocate. She is distraught because her husband quit the collaborative divorce process and served her with a complaint. She is devastated, broke and angry. I can only envision that her situation will worsen over time and she may never recover her equanimity. She will spend the next twelve years fighting over child support, visitation, and she will probably always be angry with her ex.
Angela’s story may never have a happy ending, but someone around the conference table should have cried foul right after the first ten thousand was spent and sent the parties to their corners, ready to come out swinging at the bell.
After experiencing these two stories I became convinced that there had to be a way for couples to resolve legal obligations attendant to a marriage without ending up angry, bitter, hurt, and broke.
And I had to realize that for a lot of couples that was just the way it was going to go. I couldn’t do a thing about it.
But for the right couple, a couple who’d made a real attempt a counseling, a couple who was vested in creating a better environment for their children, a couple that wanted to reach a resolution as quickly as possible, I could help.