It comes as no surprise that I am a fan of the institution of marriage. Yet much of the first half of my professional life was spent helping people to end their marriages in litigation. The last 10 years of my career was largely dedicated to helping people end their marriages with dignity, preserving their joint roles as parents through Mediation. My motivation was the belief that children have only one opportunity to experience the joy of childhood. This opportunity can too easily be infected by the fallout of an angry and dysfunctional divorce. Through experience I have come to believe the following:
- Marriage is permanent or impermanent as a matter of choice.
- Some marriages are toxic, notwithstanding the best efforts of one or both spouses.
- Some marriages fail because of a failure of effort on the part of the spouses.
- A child raised by divorced parents who have a well thought out and well executed parenting plan is better off than a child raised by parents fettered to one another in a bad marriage.
- Children learn the tools of parenting by the example of their parents. Bad relationship habits are trans-generational. An abused or abusive parent usually raises a child destined to be abused or abusive.
- Marriages most often fail along the fault lines of finance. The second most likely cause of failure is one partner’s belief that the other partner has the responsibility for happiness in the marriage. Failures in either or both of these two primary areas leads to the casting of blame upon the partner, disgust for the partner, and a sense of suffocating incarceration in the relationship.
There is more that 35+ years in the practice of law has revealed, but you get the point.
Early in my career I came to disagree with the most common symbol of marriage, that being two permanently interlocked circles. I found the symbolism flawed because marriage is not permanent. Also, marriage (good or bad) changes people. The symbolic circles retain their pre-joined shapes in spite of the reality that people flex and shape to accommodate the other person and the demands of their partnership.
I believe that a more appropriate symbol is that of two flexible intertwined loops that create a strong yet severable bond. The loops are not broken in order to be joined and need not be broken in order to be separated. They retain their basic nature but must change their shape in order to be joined and accommodate the shared connection. In addition to our wedding rings, my wife and I wear rings that I designed over 30 years ago. On the face of these rings, against the background of a Templar Cross, is this well-worn symbol that I believe more accurately reflects the cooperation, respect, and continuing commitment to the work of marriage.
Peace Everyone. Pete