There are three major aspects of every divorce: the content, the process, and another aspect I call the mystery. The content and the process can be seen and defined, like the part of an iceberg that shows above the surface. The mystery, on the other hand, is hidden below the surface. It influences the divorce process profoundly, though we can’t begin to see the size and shape of it.
The content means the four substantive areas that divorce encompasses: custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. The law is fairly clear about the rules governing these topics, and everything that goes into a Divorce Decree or a Marital Settlement Agreement falls under one of these areas.
The process means litigation, mediation, collaboration, or negotiation. The process is vitally important, because the process determines who makes the decisions about the content and how they are made. You and your spouse decide which process to use. If you agree, you can negotiate, or mediate, or use collaborative law; if you don’t agree, your only option is litigation.
The mystery means all the underlying factors that are not specified but make all the difference, like emotions, psychological makeup, resilience, support, community, communications skills, capacity for self-reflection, values, and spiritual beliefs.
When I speak of mystery, I want to convey something a little bit dark and a little awesome, but mostly that it is unknown. Under the stress of divorce, aspects of ourselves that we thought we outgrew long ago, or that we never knew existed, come back to haunt us. People sometimes act like small children, rather than mature adults. Divorce can be disorienting and confusing, even to otherwise highly intelligent people. If we have a choice, can we choose to be our better selves at the worst time in our lives?
Can we manage our intense feelings? Can we even recognize them and name them? What are the anchors that help to bring us back to our better, wiser selves? And why do we care?
These are some of the topics I’ll be discussing. Your feedback and comments are always welcome.