I am Pam Masters, a collaborative family lawyer. I am a settlement specialist. I guide couples on the difficult journey of divorce without court involvement. I do this to reduce trauma to children, preserve financial assets and achieve better outcomes for my clients.
Failure is not the only option
Esther Perel, a Belgian therapist, author, podcaster and overall fascinating woman is having a moment. She seems to be everywhere these days talking about marriage, divorce, affairs and relationships. I really like most of what she has to say. I find in my experience working with couples what she says is usually right on the mark. This week, I saw an interview with Esther in which she challenged the prevailing idea that a divorce is a failure of some sort. A death—a loss, an always sad and regretful thing that happens. Esther challenged us to think about divorce differently, much the same way that collaborative process challenges us to think about divorce differently.
Esther believes not all divorces are synonymous with failure; that a relationship of ten years, fifteen years or more, during which a couple has raised children, buried parents, supported one another through economic or health challenges and the pursuit of careers-that a relationship that has done all of that is not a failure. The fact that the relationship is ending is sometimes due to the inevitable changes in people’s fundamental needs or desires or growth and is in no way a reflection of a failure. They have done a lot of what marriage is about. So, it is Inaccurate and shame-inducing to say that the main marker of the success of a marriage is longevity. So a marriage may end but sometimes it is the end of something that may been limited in duration yet in some way still very good. A marriage of any length can be a beautiful chapter in one’s life. but rather a stunning success.
Collaborative divorce is the only divorce process that makes room for this reality. Divorce is a legal process, for sure, but it is also an emotional process, a financial process, a physical process for some a religious process and one that has the potential to impact future generations. Collaborative divorce , because it is so much more than a legal process, leaves room for couples to acknowledge and appreciate the successes they did have, the good things that they did, and to embark on a new relationship with each other from a positive perspective. Collaborative divorce allows for kindness, respect, empathy, and room for recognition that what they have done together was good, while at the same time moving toward their separate lives.
This focus on what was right as the couple works to decide what has to happen now that things have gone wrong helps them make good decisions that they will be satisfied with long term, that will minimize the trauma of the end of the relationship on them and their children and that will leave them feeling proud of the way they handled themselves through the divorce.
We know that collaborative divorce is the better way, and this is one of the many reasons why.