Friday, March 07, 2008

Then little by little we drifted from each other's heart*

I'm kind of in the broken heart business.

I cannot speak for other divorce attorneys, but, for me, I find it hard to forget, while I am drafting documents and filling out appropriate forms, that the papers in my hand represent the demolition of somebody's Happily Ever After. I cannot separate, when I am sitting in a courtroom with my client and his or her spouse, that when the gavel falls, the marriage contract is terminated - irrevocably broken. Often people who were quite calm through the whole process are a little over-whelmed at the public announcement that their marriage, and all the hopes and dreams that went along with it, is officially over.

I think, for the most part, they are relieved that the ordeal is ended - if the divorce or dissolution negotiations have been an ordeal, and often they are. But, usually, they are sad - a little sad, or a lot sad, depending.

I was standing outside of the family court building earlier this week, waiting for one of the partners from my firm to come around the corner with his car. (Because we had been lazy and had driven to court that morning because it was cold and slushy and we had been running late.)

I was trying to stay out of the wind, so, I was leaning up against the building. A couple came out of divorce court and wrapped their arms around each other and started kissing like mad.

At first I thought I was witnessing one of the occasional situations in which a potential new spouse has accompanied his or her still-married beloved to the divorce hearing, so that they can walk across the street to Probate Court and get married again right away.

I personally think this is in incredibly poor taste. None of my clients has actually done this, but, it does happen.

Anyway, I was watching them kiss - I mean, I wasn't staring openly, but, they were right in front of me, sucking face.

When they stopped kissing, I saw that they were both crying buckets.

The woman put her hand on the man's face and said, "I still love you, you know. I'll always love you."

And he said, "I love you too. I've always loved you."

Then they walked away from each other in opposite directions.

I can only conclude that they had just been divorced that was their farewell.

It honestly made me wonder why two people who loved each other so much were getting divorced in the first place.

I know, it's complicated. Believe me, I know.

And there are certainly a lot of marriages that have so broken down that there really is no hope to fix it. And there are actions that are unforgivable on the part of one spouse, where the only option, as far as I am concerned, is divorce. Situations I have personally seen that I felt fell into the unforgivable category - a spouse who was addicted to cocaine, a spouse who refused to get necessary and life saving medical treatment for a child, a spouse who was beating up his wife. I had no advice for those clients except, "Let's file right now. Let's get it over with."

But, there were other cases where I really wondered if the divorce was the only option. And I'm left wondering that about the two people I saw earlier this week.

So, I have compiled a list, a list of things I see in divorce court that could probably have ended someplace other than divorce court. So, without adieu, Lawmommy's ideas for avoiding divorce court:

  1. Have sex. Often. (With each other.)
  2. Don't have sex with people who aren't your spouse. (And, if you THINK you have a open marriage but your spouse doesn't KNOW and/or AGREE that you think you have an open marriage - you don't have an open marriage. You're having an affair.) (You'd be surprised the things people will tell their divorce attorney.)
  3. Don't hit each other. Ever. (Unless, you know, it's related to item number 1, and everyone is in agreement about it.) (Again, you'd be surprised what people tell their divorce attorney.)
  4. Be careful with each other. Cruel words cut like daggers. Try not to use them.
  5. Talk to each other. About your hopes, your dreams, your thoughts for the future, your thoughts regarding item number 1 on this list, your kids, your parents, whether or not the Tigers will make the play-offs. Just - TALK. About big things and little things.
  6. Touch each other in ways that are NOT related to item number 1.
  7. Talk about MONEY. How much you have, how much you need, and how much you have in the bank. Make a joint effort to keep bills paid. (This is so huge. I've seen more marriages end over money than I have seen end over anything else.)
  8. Don't spend money that your spouse doesn't know you are spending.
  9. Make time to be alone with your spouse without your kids.
  10. Don't drink too much.
  11. Don't gamble more than you can afford to lose.

That's it. That's my big list. I think every divorce I've handled (save the three I mentioned above) came crashing down because of a lack of one of the above reasons.

Be good to the people you love most. Don't end up kissing and crying outside family court. It's just too much heartbreak in a world that's already filled with heartbreak.


*Post title from Bruce Springsteen's "Stolen Car", 1980


Anonymous Christina said...

This is good, valuable advice. Do you know I just read that men who help out around the house get more sex? Hmmmm.... :)

But seriously, this is great advice... maybe you could write a book: Law Mommy's Guide To Staying Out of Divorce Court ? With your great insights and sense of humor, it would be a best seller. :)

Friday, March 07, 2008 5:53:00 PM  
Blogger mam said...

Oh, that's heartbreaking. And valuable. OK, I think we need to do some getting busy soon (me and him, I mean, not me and you).


Friday, March 07, 2008 5:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

What a great list! Really! I like Christina's idea about the book. It all just seems like common sense to me, so I am always amazed when I hear people give this kind of advice, but then I've seen it happen (not as much as you have, though) and I realize just how important it is for all of us to be reminded of these things.

Friday, March 07, 2008 6:35:00 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I have been a follower of your blog for sometime. I love reading it.

I agree with you completely. My husband and I have been married 13 years. 12 years longer then ANYONE in his family said we'd make it. We come from two totally different backgrounds and up bringing.

We follow each of your suggestions to the T. We also are more in love with each other today, then the day we married. We have three wonderful children, a beautiful home, and a good solid relationship built on love, trust, understanding and respect.


Friday, March 07, 2008 8:53:00 PM  
Blogger Law Student Hot Mama said...

1. You should have handed each of them your card . . .they're obviously screwed up and will be back again!

2. My husband is in Iraq . . . I HAVE TO GO 15 MONTHS WITHOUT SEX! I'm going to LOSE MY MIND!!!

Friday, March 07, 2008 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

How sad was that! I really couldn't do your job. I think I'd loose hope in humanity or at least marriage. Did you not want to scream at the top of your lungs to the couple kissing, "WHY...if you still love each other so much WHY!?" How awful to have to watch this day in and day out. You really did give great advise. I guess you KNOW, being in the thick of it everyday. My husband is on the couch asleep. Your post makes me want to get up and hug him, and not for reason #1! haha. So, I think I will! Thanks for the post!

Saturday, March 08, 2008 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger niobe said...

While, of course, you're absolutely right, sadly, I've found that some people, for one reason or another, can't or won't (and which one doesn't really matter) follow your suggestions. It's especially sad when one of those people is your spouse.

Sunday, March 09, 2008 10:16:00 AM  

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