Love and Divorce? You don’t hear those words together very often. After all, divorce means the end of love, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no.
Yes, divorce means that a certain type of romantic love has ended, at least for one spouse. But having watched thousands of divorces over thirty years, I have been an eye witness to the fact that much of the love lives on. Certainly, when there are children, the love between the parents and their children does not go away. Indeed, sometimes it emerges with even more strength in the way that all crises have the potential to draw us closer.
I have even also seen love, or at least loving behavior, sustained by husbands and wives who choose not to fully extinguish a flame that once burned so brightly. Admittedly love is an awkward word to use in this context and I have not often heard my divorcing clients use the word love when talking about their soon-to-be ex-spouse. But love is more than just a feeling. One of the Webster definition’s of Love is “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” People that divorce can choose to continue to have concern for their former spouse, for the sake of the children, for the sake of their own integrity, or simply because they choose to do so.
Our divorce laws require couples to acknowledge an “irretrievable breakdown of a marriage relationship,” but it does not require people to forfeit their love and affection for each other and it actually encourages divorcing parents to behave in a way that shows concern for each other.
One of the things I like about the Collaborative divorce
process is that it allows and, where possible, even encourages, couples to behave in a loving manner. Indeed, next May, the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota, along with the Fetzer Institute
is actually hosting a worldwide symposium to find ways to expand the ways that love, compassion and forgiveness can help divorcing families.
So maybe, just maybe, for some courageous divorcing couples, love can have a lot to do with it.
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