Detox is the new buzz word. We are bombarded with invitations from health spas to come and detox and with books and products to assist us to detoxify. As well as our bodies, however, maybe we should think about detoxifying our minds? Can the way we use language poison or cause toxicity in our minds? Those of you who are involved in sports or physical fitness training will be familiar with the power of positive thinking as a concept and how positive imaging and focus can affect our performance in these areas. Can we apply this way of thinking to other areas of our lives such as divorce and separation?
When we speak about separation and divorce we tend to use words like “broken” such as “broken families” and “broken marriages”. We also speak in terms of failure, for example, “failed marriage” or “failed relationship”. Other terms frequently used in the context of separation or divorce are splintered, rift, torn apart and so forth. Emotions or feelings associated with these words tend to be ones of anger, hatred, bitterness and conflict. All these words carry messages and bring images with them and the messages and images are overwhelmingly negative. These words all impact heavily on our subconscious and pre-program our responses to separation and divorce. When we hear these words, negative pictures of couples sitting angrily or glumly on benches or equally negative, if somewhat clichéd, images of hearts with a large crack down the centre. If we leave our language unexamined, unbidden negativity will overcome and overwhelm us. Are the emotions of hate, anger and bitterness the best way forward for those of us experiencing separation and divorce and do they serve us well? It is natural for us to feel sad and angry when a marriage or relationship ends but should we leave those emotions unchecked and unexamined and move forward in that vein? Unchecked emotion will lead us down the path of a bitter and aggressive conflict likely to wind up in court. Many think this is inevitable, human nature even, I think not. In this area, as in any other life challenge, we must rise to the occasion. We have to take control. All of us can behave well in good times, however, life is not all good times and divorce and separation can be for many, one of life’s challenges. They are a life event and how we meet such events is something that we have control over and about which we can make choices, good and bad.
For those of us who believe that legislative provision for divorce and separation is an intrinsic evil, it will never be possible to adopt a positive progressive attitude. However, for the rest of us and especially those experiencing endings, we should remember that every ending offers an opportunity. Is there such a thing as a “good divorce”? I believe that there is and it does not mean that divorce is good but that we can behave well and go through our divorce or separation in a good way so as to minimize the fall out effects on our children, family and friends. To help us on this journey we can reflect on the language that is commonly associated with separation and divorce and we can try and detoxify it. For instance, instead of talking about broken families, for example, we might speak of families in transition. And you will not be alone in these thoughts. All over the world, people have started to examine and question the way we deal with separation and divorce both personally and as a society.
In Ireland, family lawyers, have begun to question their response to the challenges of divorce and separation. Many of us have now qualified in a method of dispute resolution called “Collaboration”. As well as lawyers, other professionals working with families such as financial experts, child specialists and therapists have also trained in the collaborative method. All of these professionals as well as their collaborative training bring to the collaboration a wealth of knowledge and experience from their different professional standpoints. The unique aspect of collaboration is that it enables all this knowledge to be pulled together at your service to help you and your family find resolutions which both empower you and enable you to move forward. Everyone needed for your particular case works together in a team. All meetings and conversations are conducted with your permission knowledge and most frequently in your presence. There is little or no correspondence and everyone agrees at the outside not to go to court or threaten to go to court for as long as they are in the process of collaboration. In fact everyone , lawyers included, signs an agreement to that effect. The team works like a musical ensemble, frequently creating more than any one of them could on their own. Each member of the team like in a well-conducted ensemble, has a defined role and works with the others to support you and bring you through this life event with dignity and fairness. Does this sound too good to be true? Not so. Right now collaborative teams are in place and working in places all over the country. Collaborative practise is the fastest growing method of dispute resolution in the world. For more information on collaboration you can have a look at my website, www.familylawireland.ie or the national website of the Association of Collaborative Practitioners of which I am a board member, www.acp.ie. The International website can be accessed at, www.collaborativepractise.com .