The Most Important Consideration in a Separation

When you are going through a divorce, the desire for fairness is front and center.  Here are the types of things I hear people getting stuck on that reflect that:

I need 3 ½ days each week with my child, not 3.

He wants me to give him $25,000 but I think that’s unfair.  $20,000 is more fair.

I’m not going to drive half way to exchange the kids.  She’s the one that moved out of the area, she should do the bulk of the driving.

Believe me, I understand the right-ness of each of these statements.  You have probably already given too much in the marriage and feel like you have to hold on to some sort of equity at this point.  None of this is fair because you’re ending up with half of everything you have worked for and you sure don’t want to end up with 40%.  It’s a crazy time and you find yourself clinging to the truths in your head.  I go there myself, getting tangled in words like “equity” and “fairness.”  Wanting so badly to create order out of the chaos.

But recently a friend posted a photo on Facebook that illuminated that dark room.  The three people in the photo above are my friend, her daughter and her ex-husband.  The parents have been divorced over 10 years.  They are on a road trip touring college campuses.  They all look happy. 

So often in crisis we lose site of the forest while staring at the trees.  We forget what we’re doing it all for.  In the end, isn't some version of this photo what we all want?  We want positive relationships with the people in our lives.  We want respect and trust and friendliness.  We all want to get along.  We want that more than $5,000 or 4 additional waking hours a week spent with our child. 

Navigating conflict well requires that we move between the birds-eye view of our situation and answering on-the-ground questions.  Don’t forget to get some air.