Last week, I spent some time talking about the contrast between compromise and Collaboration. I defined compromise as one party having to give up on a deeply-held belief in order to reach a settlement. Collaboration, on the other hand, works on the principle of involved parties trying to come together and see what accommodations can be made so that both have a feeling of satisfaction. It is a fine line but a valuable one. Allow me to share with you a Collaboration between a friend of mine and her husband. It is much more simple than what faces divorcing couples, but it illustrates the principle well.

Diane (names are changed for privacy) had developed a friendship during aerobics with a lady who attended a church near Diane’s home. When she invited Diane to come with her, she decided she would like to go. However she and her husband of 20 years were agreed on religion; it would have no place in their lives. When Diane broached the subject with Joe, his response was, “No.” He didn’t want to be disturbed on Sunday, his only day to sleep in.

That would have been the end of it, except that Diane came back to Joe with an idea. She would put the clothes she planned to wear to church in the spare bedroom on Saturday night and get dressed in there. Joe agreed, but they both agreed that if she disturbed him during her preparations, she would not go to church again.

After a couple of months, Diane decided she wanted to attend a Wednesday morning women’s bible study held at the church. She and Joe worked out the following plan: Diane would attend the bible study, do the at-home lessons during the day, and keep her bible and study materials in a drawer. She would not mention the study to Joe and would not work on the study when he was at home.

That’s the beauty of Collaboration: they both won. Diane was able to attend her meetings, and Joe was able to basically live the religion-free life he enjoyed (until 14 years later when he decided one Sunday to go to church with Diane, another story.)

Obviously, this situation does not have the emotional turmoil associated with it that a divorce does. Life issues are being decided in a highly-charged atmosphere during divorce. Even with Collaboration, some decisions will not be able to be made cooperatively. Some issues may still need advocacy or litigation to solve, but far fewer decisions will need to be made by a judge.

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