National Divorce Month?

I got a call a couple of years ago from a local magazine.  According to them, May was National Divorce Month and they wanted to interview me about my experience working with people going through divorce.  When I first got the message, I was excited about the opportunity to talk about the choices people facing divorce have about how to make the important decisions facing them.  I thought they might be interested in hearing how people facing what can only be described as a crisis in their lives, often rally and find new ways to connect with their core values in the midst of the pain.  Or how people sometimes take this opportunity to examine the meaning of their lives and change direction in a way that ultimately brings them greater happiness.

That’s not what they were interesting in talking about . . . what they wanted was for me to describe the WORST behavior I had ever witnessed from someone going through divorce.   Here’s how that conversation went:

Me: “Are you [bleepin’] kidding me?”

“How would you feel if you were a former client of mine and read an article in Westchester Magazine in which I describe your behavior as the worst I’d ever seen?”

Intern: “Well you don’t have to give their name.”

[I consider myself a calm person but, by now, I am starting to get angry]

Me: “Of course, I am not going to tell you their name.  Even if I don’t identify a person by name, how would you feel if you thought I was describing YOU as the WORST in PRINT?”

Intern: “Many other divorce lawyers in Westchester are answering the question.”

[‘Okay, she really doesn’t get it.” I tell myself, “I’ll explain.”]

Me: “People facing divorce are really facing a crisis in their lives.  No one is at their best.  Have you heard that old joke that the difference between criminal lawyers and divorce lawyers is that criminal lawyers work with bad people at their best and divorce lawyers work with good people at their worst?

Intern: “You don’t have to participate.”

Me: “I know I don’t have to participate, I am trying to explain something to you that might be useful.  You see, even if I could think of the worst behavior I had ever witnessed in one of my clients or their spouse (and frankly I don’t think like that and am not sure I could answer the questions but if I could), how would you feel if you were one of my former clients and thought I was talking about you whether or not I was?  I do not see how an article such as the one you are working on serves those clients or frankly the population of people considering or experiencing divorce.  Divorce is hard enough, for people to now worry that the professionals they are working with are judging them cannot help their distress.

Intern: “You don’t have to participate.”

Me: “I certainly choose not to participate if my only choice is to participate by answering the question you pose.”

That ended the conversation.  I later wrote an email to the publisher expressing my concerns but never heard back.

I later googled “national divorce month” and found nothing about May although I did learn that July was National Child Centered Divorce and that has now been changed to January–the month in which the most divorces are filed.

For years I have been trying to get the media’s attention about a better way to divorce and it seems they are mostly not interested.  It’s ironic that when they call, it’s for the worst of people not people to find their best selves in a challenging time.

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