As the trend of no-fault divorces has spread over the last 20 years, I have thankfully seen a dramatic decline in the number of clients that want me to portray the other person as Darth Vader. Don’t get me wrong– there are still some people that would love to have their exs convicted and placed in solitary confinement for life for crimes against humanity, but either they soon realize that divorce court is not criminal court or the economic realities of legal warfare kick in and knock some sense into them.
Most logical human beings are able to grasp that there are two sides to every story, and many are able to accept that each person is always going to be entitled to his/her own point of view on why things unraveled. However, there are some people that just cannot accept any blame for anything– it is always someone else’s fault. These types are a lost cause as far as I’m concerned, but for the remaining 80% of you that can appreciate your less than perfect status as a mere mortal on Earth, I have high hopes for you– especially when it comes to creating healthy relationships.
We all have different priorities, interests and passions we want to pursue, and a good partner will respect your autonomy to do what you need to do to feel fulfilled. But as we evolve, sometimes we may find that our interests may compete with one another, and if you are not cut from the same cloth, you will soon find the competition turns into fiery clashes.
Personally, I see myself as a hawk– I need to be free to fly, I need to hunt, and at the end of the day I need to return a warm, safe nest. Now, I am happy to share my nest with another– as long as it remains a safe and inviting place to come home to at night. Most men I know are exactly the same way– the problem is that a non-hunter does not always appreciate the work and sacrifices that are made outside the nest. Their lack of understanding leads to resentment, and those negative feelings seep out into the relationship creating an unstable environment at home. Who wants to come home to that? No one. And so it is that the slow, downward spiral begins as the conflicts continue to escalate until someone eventually hits his/her wall.
Once someone realizes that no one is getting a gold trophy for sucking it up the longest, I don’t blame that person for getting out of a bad situation, and I’m so glad that very few courts still care about this any more. Because really, who cares why the marriage is ending? The point is that the contract is being terminated, and the focus needs to be on what we do moving forward, especially when children are involved– and they above all else don’t need to know the details of why a divorce is occurring, they just need to know that their parents will continue to care for them, provide for them, and love them.
Parents that can focus on their kids’ best interests are the ones who excel at picking their battles with the other parent. These are people that understand that someone might be a crappy partner, but still be a great father or mother to a child. They see that the child is not one person’s prized possession, but rather a gift that both need to share and enjoy. Together, I see so many divorced parents put aside their differences in order to identify problems and find solutions that will work for their children. And it is these same people that I so often see move on after the divorce to find great success both professionally and personally– because they let the past go, they don’t hold grudges, and they accept that it really doesn’t matter who was at fault for letting their love die. As we all know from observing nature: something always has to die so that something else can live.
So, you can mourn the death of your marriage, but don’t try to view it a sham or complete waste. It was an experience, and for better or worse you hopefully learned some valuable lessons that will serve you well in the future. The sooner you can stop playing the blame game and accept that it took two to tango, the sooner I believe you will find your real love waiting for you to go write the next chapter of your life’s story.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.