Years ago, our family lived in a very small Eastern Washington town. I had a dear friend who was going through a tumultuous divorce after 10 tumultuous years of marriage. She was sharing her frustrations with the divorce process, and I naively said to her, “Well, at least he did not die.”

She got a strange look on her face and replied, “It would be better if he had.”

It would be better if she did not keep seeing him around town. She saw him at the grocery store (the only one in town), at the theatre (the only one in town), the bank (the only one in town), the best restaurant in town and, it seemed, everywhere she went. It did not help that he frequently had another woman with him.

It would be better if she did not have to open a separate checking account. She was a stay-at-home mom, so her total income would come from him until the children were old enough for her to get a job. In the meantime, she was having to juggle single parenting with job training classes in a nearby town.

It would be better if she did not see him at church, especially if he was accompanied by the other woman. They had both attended the same church together, and even though there was more than one church in town, neither was quite ready to “branch out” and find a new place to worship.

It would be better if they did not have to be at school conferences together. They both had to sit in the same room (on little chairs, no less) and act like everything was normal.

It would be better if she did not have to find a new home. Their home had belonged to his grandparents, so he stayed. He was helpful in the financing of her new home, but she was constantly being reminded that she would be living there alone with the children except when they were with their dad. Then the house would be eerily quiet.

It would be better if they did not have to figure out a parenting plan that would be equitable and then work the process out together so the children did not become part of their struggle.

As she continued on with her list, it dawned on me that the discomfort and grief she was talking about wouldn’t be over once the divorce decree was signed. Life goes on after divorce, and there are many details that need to be worked out beforehand and lived with for a very long time. Collaborative divorce teams walk clients through the process so that there will be as little disruption in their lives, and the lives of their children, as possible. More about this next week.

Copyright 2013. Marjorie E. James. All rights reserved.