It’s an odd thing in business to feel excited and happy when a client is so open to coaching and advice that you find yourself out of a job.
A year ago, Adam came to see me to talk about the fact that he was struggling with his marriage. He wanted to understand the implications of separation for himself, his wife and their children. He was not in a good place. He felt ‘like a toad’ for wanting to leave his wife, but he also felt trapped and depressed.
We talked about therapeutic support, couples counselling, the tough conversation to come about ending the marriage, about sharing assets, children’s expenses, ongoing relationships with in-laws, co-parenting, kindness and decency.
Adam and I then talked about developing a plan for all the things that matter, about allowing his wife time to come to terms with the separation, speaking to their children about it, him moving out, and short term financial arrangements. This Action Plan was underpinned by filtering every action and decision through the lens of what would be best for the kids, Charlie and Bella.
I can’t tell you how surprised and enormously proud I felt of Adam when he checked in last week. He had followed the Action Plan, and met with the recommended counsellor and couples therapist. He and his wife have now separated, and they are sharing the care of the children who are doing well.
Thanks to Adam being able to hold back from some of what he wanted to rush into last year, and seeing his wife’s perspective, they are all better off.
Adam and his wife were prepared to reach out to the right professional help to deal with their grief and sadness, processing the end of their marriage, and focusing on their determination to put their kids first. And now? They have been able to agree on parenting and finances in a way they both feel really good about, without any other professional help in their negotiations. That is quite an achievement.
It’s easy to say that this couple might never have needed help anyway. But the truth is that Adam committed to doing things he didn’t really want to do, and refrained from doing other things he actually badly wanted to do.
He could so easily have decided to push for an earlier separation into two households, he could have fought over the family budgets, expressed the impatience he felt towards his wife or rushed the conversation with the kids. He could so easily have put himself first.
If Adam had done any of those things, the separation could have descended into anger and bitterness, and as a lawyer, I know that’s what would have cost this family money. Probably quite a lot of it.
Anger and bitterness are the currency of the family court system. Without those terrible twins, most family lawyers’ offices and most court rooms would be nearly empty. And wouldn’t that be quite another achievement?
If you would like to seek confidential support for your relationship, please contact one of our friendly team members at MELCA.