I was watching the 2011 Academy Awards Show and Halle Berry’s presentation was closed with a quote from Lena Horne, the legendary African American actress who passed away last year. The quote, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it,” applied to how Ms. Horne, with humility and grace, persevered and found success as an African American artist, despite the overwhelming racial prejudice and inequality existing in our country at the time. This quote was so moving and profound to me, and it struck me how important the “how” is when dealing with our own individual struggles, challenges and traumas in our lives, irrespective of our gender, race or religion.
More particularly, in the context of divorce, the model that a couple chooses to negotiate a settlement is the most important decision in a divorce – it is the way that they will carry the load through the divorce process. What is the load to be carried – the needs and emotions of the family, the children, the financial burdens, and more. Choosing a settlement model that prioritizes the highest needs of the entire family by focusing on their collective interests and goals, and at the same time dealing constructively with the extreme range of emotions underlying the process, potentially can serve to minimize the trauma of divorce.
Divorce carries with it a load of emotions that can break down all members of even the strongest family. However, if the right team and support is assembled at the commencement of divorce settlement proceedings, those emotions can be carried and addressed in a manner that allows each member to visualize a better future. By choosing alternative dispute resolution, such as the mediation and collaborative models, a couple is making a choice to handle conflict in a manner that will ultimately survive the divorce process and even strengthen the foundation for their post-divorce family.
Remember, it is the way that you carry the load….