She had loved him madly, desperately, longingly, lovingly. She loved him from their first date in high school. She followed him into college. She married him as soon as they graduated. She had borne him children.
You are finally getting a divorce. Years of trying to manage with her drug addiction, her erratic behavior, her severe mood swings, her on again, off again job status are coming to a close. She walked away and disappeared one time too many. You never knew your camel could carry so many straws but she finally placed the one too many.
Some people can flat-out wear you out. They will challenge you every which way and frustrate you until you are blue in the face. Or maybe they just wear you down, little by little, over the course of time. They wear on you like a thick, wet coat that drags you closer to the ground with every step you take. Some acquaintances are like that. Some friends are like that. And some significant others are like that.
The phone is ringing. It rings so long you are sure it's going to voice mail. At what seems like the last second, she picks up. "Hello." You are beaming from ear to ear, better settled just to hear the sound of her voice. You engage in idle chatter for the next few minutes about your day, the weather, your immediate plans. Then it's time to ring off.
The terms "co-parenting" and "best interests of the child" are phrases that are part of our daily language in the world of custody and family law. They are also commonly thrown around as weapons between divorcing parents, often without any real tie-in with their intended meaning. As a professor once told our class, they are terms of art, so we should use them artfully!
"She's done it again! We have a Parenting Plan that sets out the schedule. It's supposed to be my weekend with the kids and here comes some other reason I shouldn't have my weekend. Sure, last month, I needed to switch weekends because I had family coming and they wanted to see the kids, but she's now asked me to switch weekends six times this year and it's only May! And now this weekend, she wants to get the kids 3 hours earlier than she's supposed to! This is absurd!"
I recently watched an interesting spy movie called "Bridge of Spies." Tom Hanks plays an attorney who represents an old man accused of being a Soviet spy during the Cold War era. The most memorable of the scenes depicts the attorney meeting the accused spy for the first time. They discuss the attorney's legal services. As he advises his new client of his duties to him, their conversation gets a bit interesting.
Someone recently wrote in to us:
You've heard of self inflicted injuries, right? Tonight, I'm not writing about win-win strategies which are obviously good; I'm writing about a person, a party, actively working to help the other side win, to their own detriment.
At some point in our lifetime, we've all probably faced what we call a "new chapter" in life. It may have been a new job or college. It may have been relocation to a new neighborhood. It may have been the birth of a child. With every "new chapter" comes a mixture of anxiety and excitement about the unknown. It's the same thing with divorce.