Christmas, Divorce, Mediation, and Gratitude: Lessons From A Former Client
As is often the case, Joan and Rob weren’t on exactly the same page when they came to us. (By the way, names have been changed to protect the privacy of the wonderful.) One spouse had considered divorce for awhile and, though emotional, was ready. The other spouse wasn’t ready and was just beginning to work through some deep sadness surrounding the ending of the marriage.
Rob and Joan decided to mediate. When done for the right reasons, mediation is not only a kind but a brave choice. Freed Marcroft’s mediators do not substitute our judgment for the client’s opinions. Instead, we are responsible for creating an environment in which productive discussions and negotiations can occur. As we pull out the issues that are important to each person, we ask both spouses to answer hard questions so that they can build plans for a future that will help their family thrive. Because, though it will look different than it does now, it is and will always be a family.
Mediation wasn’t easy for Joan and Rob. Because they were at different stages in their acceptance of the divorce, it wasn’t always easy for them to share their fears and interests during our meetings. Sometimes it was a challenge to uncross their wires. On multiple occasions, both reiterated their commitment to their (almost) grown children and to honoring their long relationship and marriage. It was our sense that sometimes they were convincing themselves as well as each other.
Despite the difficulty, Rob and Joan stuck with it.
We are about to head into the second Christmas since Joan and Rob’s divorce was final. This is the email we received this morning from Joan:
As I planned Christmas Eve luncheon with my Favorite Former Husband (FFH), kids, and parents I looked back on what you did for us and I cannot thank you enough. I believe an amicable dissolution of the bond of marriage is the ultimate act of faith and trust in someone you no longer understand. Thank you again for believing there was enough good left in us to get through the process.–Joan
I asked Joan if I could share her note. For some people, the holidays fall in the middle of the divorce process and that takes an extra emotional toll. For couples who choose mediation or collaborative divorce instead of litigation, it can also cause them to wonder if it wouldn’t be “easier” to switch to litigation and outsource decision-making to a judge. For many people, the first holiday after a divorce is finished is an emotional and practical struggle. In both cases, the stress of the first “new normal” holidays can be immense. Joan’s words, from the “other side” of a divorce, can help us all practice gratitude, keep our expectations realistic, and envision new beginnings.
As for the team at Freed Marcroft, well, we could receive no better Christmas gift than Joan’s note.
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