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Difference of Opinion

It was now well into the wee hours of the morning. For far too long now the argument had been little more than, "yes it is" and "no it isn't." They weren't getting anywhere. They weren't going to.

Eventually, exhausted and unresolved they retreated into their now separate bedrooms and crawled into their now separate beds.

He was certain that the Judge would hammer her for her infidelity. She cheated on him. Him! He who for years had been almost like a god in her life. He had order. He had precision. He knew exactly what had to be done and when and he wasn't at all hesitant to tell her. He told her how to raise and care for the children. He told her how and what to fix for the family meals. He even was so kind as to tell her how to dress so that she would dress appropriately and successfully for her rather ample body type, as he often reminded her.

He knew that when the Judge heard that she had been with another man, the Judge would do his judgely duties and rain hell down upon her for her wicked, unfaithful ways. He knew that no judge would give the children to a mother like that.

She had been unfaithful. That much was true. After years of demands and demeaning, after years of nastiness and neglect, she found comfort elsewhere. Romantically, she had moved on. She felt that the Judge would see that she was and always had been a good mother. She felt that this admirable trait was what mattered. She felt that the Judge would never strip her of her babies.

For far too long now the argument had been little more than, "yes it is" and "no it isn't." They weren't any closer to resolving the question of custody than when the argument first started, when she told him she wanted a divorce.

"That's why God gave us judges," I told her. "He has one opinion, you have another. Okay. Don't keep fighting about it; submit it to the Judge."

People have differences of opinion. Husbands and wives have differences of opinion. Divorcing spouses certainly have differences of opinion. When it is unsurmountable, don't sweat it, submit it to the judge.

The judge is well paid to be an honest broker, an astute listener, an unbiased resolver of differences of opinion. Sure, judges are human, too and some are more honest, astute and unbiased than others, but to argue off of that point would quickly devolve into, "the judge is more biased toward me." "No he isn't, he's more biased toward me." That's an argument I seldom hear.

Interestingly, often my suggested response about God and Judges tends to produce an opportunity for a more open dialogue and less of an argument. It's like turning on a mental light. "Yes, a third party will have to resolve this for us if we don't resolve it ourselves. She is comfortable to turn it over to the Judge. Maybe we ought to try to explore other options."

The next time that their argument arose, she raised my suggested response. It shut the argument down. He had no where to go. Certainly, the issue was no less severe; the stakes were no less high, but the concept that their argument was going to produce a winner and a loser went out the window. Their argument would be just as fleeting as a breeze that disturbs the curtains. They waive in the breeze but when it has passed, they remain.

Eventually, their issue was submitted to the Judge for his opinion. She was right. Whether she was wrong in finding love elsewhere or right in moving on, that issue had no bearing on her parenting. She was a great mom and had always taken care of the kids. In the end, the Judge made short work of it. He resolved their difference of opinion.

-Michael Manely 

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