He looked clearly uncomfortable. He was
and hurt. I recognized it. His marriage was heading
for divorce, his love was on the rocks. The suit was filed by his wife.
He was obviously not a willing participant in the proceedings. They had
two young children.
I bin there before (as Huckleberry Finn may have said).
His present circumstances
a similar, brutal set from my own past. Having resolved them for
myself, I've discovered something important, something worth
something which may not be immediately intuitive for other fathers so
sued, given the preponderence of
at times like these. I broached the subject obliquely by telling him I
had a good idea for a hypothetical divorce seminar. A whut?
Look: when the truth is told, there's no need for another seminar, and
there's really no need for a divorce seminar. Really there isn't.
Divorce and its ramifications are but facets of some relationships
although not always ones that have us thrilled with their prospects. In
with relationships and communication is already so all-encompassing and
transformational as to have fully addressed both non-working and
working relationships, its current curriculum full and complete without
the need for yet another series. Telling him I had a good idea for a
divorce seminar, was just to make a point, to draw his
attention to something.
I told him what my hypothetical seminar would not address.
It would not address amicable, uncontested divorces (there's no need).
It would not address divorces with no children involved (there's little
need). Generally, it would address divorces in which the respondent
isn't a willing participant - in other words, in which the respondent
doesn't want the divorce. And specifically, it would address divorces
when children are involved, in which it's the father who isn't the
willing participant - in other words, divorces in which the mother of
the children sues their father for divorce, separating the father from
his children for half their custodial time (if not more). When children
are of a very young age, that's the onset of a heap of trouble and a
world of hurt for everyone - like no ... kidding!
How do I know? Because that was once my predicament. I got my idea for
a hypothetical divorce seminar from being the father of young children
sued for divorce by their mother, a suit in which I was the unwilling
participant. And as became plainly and painfully obvious in a court of
law, it requires two to make a marriage work but only one to dismantle
it (all it takes is for the petitioner to correctly fill in the
paperwork, dot all the "i"s, cross all the "t"s, pay the applicable
filing fee, and it's bye-bye, rubber-stamped, good night, over).
"So what do you have in mind?" he asked, "what would your seminar
You can blame, I said. You can look for ways to avoid the pain. That's
time-consuming, laborious. And it could take years. You can seek
the company of friends (or, for that matter, anyone who'll listen) to
lessen the hurt by agreeing with you how inconsiderate, unkind, and
dislocating the process is. You can complain to anyone who'll listen
about how unfair the court system is, indeed how expensive
divorce is. And as for the infamous bias favoring the mother in child
custody cases, you'll need a lot of listeners to chill
that one out. Oh, and the expected "everyone-knows" 50 / 50 split of
all community property marital assets? Dream on,
In the real world, the father pays inordinately more. That's just the
way it is. "There's no way out, no respite and very little fairness in
any of it" I said, "so listen carefully: I've got something (which is
to say I finally figured something out) with could turn your life
around, which will give you an
to freedom, a pathway back to your own strength and power, and the
beginning of healing" (what he didn't yet get was I was pointing to
something both prior to as well as outside the box).
At first he seemed not to hear me, rambling on about the callousness
(both to him the father, as well as to his children) of the process,
about disillusionment and breach of trust, about how "... 'til death us
do part" now sounds so capricious, so expedient, so
out-of-integrity until eventually I had to interrupt him.
"Look" I said, "none of that is going to work for you.". But he already
knew that. He'd already hit rock bottom. He knew he was square in the
path of the steamroller. He just didn't know how to get himself out of
"So" I said, "are you ready for my seminar?". "Yes, alright" he said,
"anything's gotta be better than this.". "Good" I said, "it
won't take long if you let it in.".
Then I leaned over and, very pointedly, pausing between each word for
emphasis, said "You have to be willing to acknowledge her as the
mother of your children. No matter what she did, no
matter what you think and feel about what she did, you have to be
willing to thank her, to respect her, to admire her, even to
worship her as a goddess, as the mother of your children.
You won't be compensated for any of that other stuff - not for the
unfairness, not for the betrayal, not for the disappointment, not for
the pain, not for any of it. So let it go. None of it (as unlikely as
this may sound now) will last anyway. You'll get over it. It will all
disappear in time. What will last however, is she will be
the mother of your children forever. You love your children,
don't you?" I asked. He just looked at me, and squirmed. "Yes" (he
could barely utter the word). "Then thank her for them!" I
continued, "acknowledge her for that. The sooner you do it, the quicker
you'll begin to heal, the better it will be for you and for your
children, and the faster you can begin having an amicable, workable
relationship with her again.".
Then I just stopped talking. The silence hung thick in the air. You
could cut it with a knife. And he just sat there saying nothing,
looking forlorn. I waited. And I waited. And waited. Then finally he
"How do you know this works?" he asked, interested yet guarded. I
replied "I was going through it all myself. I couldn't stand it
anymore. I realized (much to my own chagrin) how stuck, small, and
powerless I had become. I resolved to somehow reclaim being
Where to begin? It came to me in an epiphany: I had to get
enough to acknowledge her as the mother of our children, to get
enough to let go of being small, to get
enough to let go of being the victim. So that's what I did, and that's
what worked. It worked for our children too. It works for our children
big time that their Daddy
their Mama and always speaks unabashedly of how great she is. That's
how I healed
That's my whole seminar right there: you have to be willing to
acknowledge her and
her as the mother of your children. That's what works. Everything else
falls into place and works out behind that.
falls into place and works out behind that. Really it
There was a long silence. I knew he got it. The question is: would he
take it on (would he own it)? Hurt and anguish are the automatic
concomitants of a process like this. So they come easy. But would he
acknowledge her as the mother of his children with thanks and even even
That's harder - because it's not automatic: it's an intentionally
generated stand. It's a stand taken on nothing. You have to
to take a stand on nothing. Yet it's in taking this very stand that the
comes. It's outrageous. It's unreasonable. It's counter-intuitive. It
requires courage and strength of character. Yet doing so will
a transformation in your life: from being a victim, to being
be cause in the matter.
He nodded (to no one in particular). Some circumstances are just too
awful to confront fully all at once. Really they are. Yet the sooner we
choose to stand in a place where we're
be cause in the matter,
the sooner they release their grip on us, and dissipate. They do. Why?
I don't know. It just works that way.
That's my seminar right there. And he was its first graduate.