We’ve all seen divorce – by witnessing the pain felt by a friend, family member or co-worker. Or perhaps we’ve even gone through it ourselves. There’s no question it can be a very difficult experience.
My first encounter with divorce came at an early age. As a child I played with three neighborhood children and saw the pain first hand.
One day, I found out that their mother and father were going to be divorced. It seemed like an endless process, filled with pain, sadness and anger. I noticed their mom was always down, and when their father visited, he was always angry. The kids were always anxious in reaction to the turmoil. It was hard to get them to open up about what they were feeling.
Years later, as a college student, I befriended a couple who later married and became the parents of two beautiful children. I stayed close to the husband over the years. When kids reached the ages of 10 and 8, they divorced. The atmosphere was bitter, even toxic, as the husband, with whom I stayed close, kept me informed about the status of the negotiations between their attorneys. It seemed that with each motion filed in court, the husband and wife were being driven further apart.
As I continued to observe others endure the end of their marriages, I decided for myself that the Courts don’t provide any incentive or processes to help a married couple to end their marriage with civility and dignity.
Instead, documents that may contain damaging allegations are filed, depositions are taken, evidence is offered, and experts may examine the spouses and their children. To me, it’s an insensitive invasion and dissection of a family that is already meeting overwhelming challenges.
Meanwhile, the Courts are overloaded with limited resources to address the human needs of the family. This process only prolongs the strife, delays closure, and prevents the family from transitioning to their next chapter in life’s journey. It’s a failed system.
And then, I discovered mediation. I became a mediator. My life changed.
Instead of feeling angry about the failings of the legal system, I learned how to apply my passion for bringing people together around a table for a higher purpose – to help my clients, who face the uncertainty of a life changing event to have a challenging but meaningful conversation so they can plan for their futures – and those of their children.
For each couple I work with, I set a personal goal of using what I’ve learned from training and experience to make a positive difference in their lives – by transforming fear and anger into hope and confidence that the future can bring new opportunity.
I am no longer a helpless bystander watching families struggle. As a mediator, I can honestly say that I have never been as fulfilled as I am now. Being there for each client, I can provide a safe and neutral environment where they control their future – creating peaceful solutions – one conversation at a time.
Recently, after a relatively long divorce mediation lasting several months, I met with the husband and wife at a closing session. The husband said to me, “I did not think we would be successful in coming to an agreement in mediation, but I was inspired by your patience.” The wife replied, “I think you have more patience than both of us combined, but I don’t think that’s what made the difference – you encouraged us to have a conversation with each other that we couldn’t have without you. You helped us to listen, and over time, we were finally able to understand each other.”
And that is why I do this work.