Often, when I tell someone the name of my business – A Friendly Divorce – they laugh. “A Friendly Divorce? Ha, Ha. That’s an oxymoron.” Others think we only help couples that are already friendly. And, they wonder how busy we could possibly be if our clients are divorcing couples that get along. In fact, very few of our clients walk into our office feeling friendly. Our goal is to turn that around and get them to a place where friendly, friendlier, or at very least polite, is possible.
However, we know that the fight in a divorce serves a purpose and is often a critical part of the process. Of course, we believe that the fight is best staged in the mediator’s office and not in a courtroom with attorney assistance. Why do couples going through divorce fight? Well, in general, the fight serves six functions.
- To enable the partners to determine if reconciliation is possible.
- To expose past hurts.
- To confirm that the spouse is no longer part of the team and instead wants to take care of him/her self.
- To keep the connection alive until the lesser connected partner is ready to let go.
- To enable each spouse to avoid looking at him/herself and their individual failures. By pointing the finger at the other spouse, each partner can lessen his/her guilt and feelings of failure.
- To promote letting go.
Keep in mind that each divorce, each couple, and each fight, is unique. So some of this will be more relevant in some cases then in others. However, there is always some version of “the” fight and if we can help a couple structure their fight and make it more productive there is a better chance for a valuable dialogue as they move through the process of divorce and into their future relationship as co-parents. Sadly, when the fight is driven by attorneys in a court setting a couple may miss much of the opportunity for self-discovery and closure, as they end up with a form of divorce PTSD that keeps them stuck and unable to attract a healthy new partner.