It isn’t terribly often I have two individuals consulting in my office at the same time, about the same divorce… In fact, it only occurs when there has been someone more invested in the marriage than the actual spouse seeking the divorce. Once in awhile, that is the new lover that swears nothing romantic occurred until very recently. But more often than not, it’s a parent. The Mother.
I ask the husband, sitting across the desk, what brought him to my office today. Despite his lips not moving, I hear the answer: Divorce. From the other chair across the room sits a distinguished older woman, fashionably dressed with a stern look on her face: a frightening act of ventriloquism.
I try again and direct my questions to the actual client, the Husband. In an attempt to understand his story, his case, I inquire more.
I regretted the question the second it left my tongue because before I could even close my mouth a tornado of pent up resentment spewed from the mother’s mouth. More ventriloquism. Her words reflect what could only be her son’s feelings, relaying stories about events she never witnessed but spinning a web with her in the center. Her complaints about her daughter-in-law ranged from a snub at the wedding reception to how the children were enrolled in daycare so the wife could go back to work.
Perhaps it is hyperbole on her part. Merely good story telling to the attorney being interviewed to file for divorce for her son. Yet, the Husband’s lips hardly moved. He would nodded occasionally and interjected briefly- only to sprinkle in some details only he would know. Never once, did he vocalize his own complaints. In all he seem hypnotized by the tangled web enumerating each one of his wife’s faults.
At one point, I physically turn myself away from the Mother and direct my eyes and full attention to the man meekly sitting before me nodding and bobbing in acceptance of his Mother’s demands. His name comes first before I announce my final question: what is your goal?
Once again, no sooner had I ended the sentence with the unspoken question-mark had Mother piped in with five hundred ‘he wants’ and ‘he needs,’ the ‘he is’ and ‘she should.’ Her remarks went on and on. Regardless, I never redirected my gaze. I watched the Husband, eyes cask down and nodding slowly as if to say: ah, that makes sense… almost like he was hearing this information for the first time.
The consult clocked in at exactly an hour. One hour of Mother’s nearly endless breath, painting the elaborate picture of the monster hidden within her daughter-in-law. Yet, the only monster I saw was in my own office.