REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from The Jewish Star Times, p.13
If you really want a good divorce, see a marriage counselor first. There was a case in Broward County, FL some years ago that had the dubious honor of being the longest running case in county history. I knew that family. The wife came to visit me before the divorce when I was in mourning for my mother. A very sweet young woman. Her husband was a good apple too. So what happened? There were some usual communication problems that a counselor should have tweaked to save the marriage. They were decent people that divorce made worse. Oh, boy did it. There was the custody battle, the flight out of the country, the breaking of legs. I kid you not. And that part could also have been avoided with a counselor.
You Need Help To Get An Emotional Divorce
The counselor ensures that there will be an emotional divorce so the couple can let go. With an emotional divorce, it is possible to move on and work on the best interest of the child.
You might wonder why the vindictiveness in so many cases, why can’t they simply split? The answer is that usually there’s a lot of hurt feelings that never were healed: Just because the flame of love is out, that doesn’t stop the flame of anger from becoming a full-fledged conflagration.
The anger and pain came from accusations, blame, criticism, angry words. Maybe there was abuse, maybe verbal, maybe even physical. This did not happen because you were bad people. No one starts out that way. But hurt feelings have a peculiar way of bringing out the worst in us. Someone retaliates. After all, why just take it when you can dish it out, right?
Even The Lawyers Would Prefer It To Be Clean, Not Ugly
At some point, it becomes ugly. Then you get a lawyer because you see it is irreparable. And then it gets really ugly. It usually isn’t even the lawyer’s fault; the attorney has to protect you and this war has gotten so bad that the only defense is a good offense. I know, I know: You’re going to tell me all those stories about greedy lawyers running up the bill. But in the field of family law, I’ve found, most attorneys have had it about up to “here” with hate. They’d rather see justice done without all that pain. They’d like it clean.
In Court, You Lose; In Counseling, There Are Solutions
Counseling can clean up that emotional mess. In the same way that counseling works to save marriages, it can work at the brink of or even after divorce. It’s a place (a) to vent, (b) to be understood, (c) to negotiate and mediate, (d) and even to begin to see the world from the perspective of your spouse or ex. Someone I was just talking to the other day said, in reference to (d), “DrDeb, you’re naïve.” No, I’m not. It happens every day. It happens every day in therapy offices, but I can assure you, it does not happen in court. No matter how hard you fight and how good your attorney, in court you do not have much of a voice. Most important, one side must lose, and it’s not always the one you think deserves to. You can walk out of court complaining, “It wasn’t fair!” but you will never walk out of a quality counseling office saying that. That’s because you will always be in the driver’s seat.
What Children Learn From A Clean Divorce
When you and your spouse or ex are done with counseling, not only is the entire cost of the process, including the attorney, a lot cheaper than fierce litigation, but if you have children, they will learn that it is possible to have huge differences and still not carry out a war. This is critically important: They will learn that problems can be solved, relationships can be mended to some extent, people can split and manage to find happiness. In short, they will not learn–as so many children of divorce do–that marriage is a bad idea so don’t get into it in the first place. They may take a chance on their own marital happiness one day.
Also, they will not be pawns; they may actually come out unscarred, or less so than otherwise. They will benefit from the continued love and attention of both parents and they will never have to hear one parent talking down about the other. That’s another big bonus.
I’ve been doing this a lot of years and I’m telling you, no matter how “crazy” your ex, no matter how far along the warfare, it can stop with counseling. Your litigation will go smoother, and when it’s done, it’ll be done. Not like people still in court years and years later because they never got an emotional divorce.