Sweet and Salty

The following blog post was inspired by psychotherapist Oona Metz, who has reviewed it and approved its publication.

On April 6th, WBUR’s Cognoscenti published psychotherapist Oona Metz’s article entitled “Why don’t we talk- really talk- about divorce?”   

In her article, Oona didn’t shy away from asking a painful question and suggesting an alternative lens. She asks us to consider the split between what we show to the world on social media versus how we might feel inside during the struggles of a divorce.

Oona wrote the article in response to a sugar-coated Instagram post in which Reese Witherspoon announced that she and her husband would be divorcing. Oona acknowledges that Reese no doubt wanted to carefully manage her celebrity image, but Oona also questions the authenticity of this upbeat post. She powerfully asks us: what if Reese had included the very real feelings of anguish and grief that accompany divorce instead of having said “We have enjoyed so many wonderful years together and are moving forward with deep love, kindness and mutual respect for everything we have created together.”

Having had the enormous pleasure of knowing and working with Oona for many years, it didn’t surprise me that her observations and questions were honest, “spot on,” and that they directly challenged social conventions.  Her thoughts made me think about how there seem to be two dominant and diametrically opposed paradigms about divorce. One is what Reese presented, and the other is the all-out courtroom battle, War of the Roses  style (the 1989 film, not the 1455–1487 British civil war). As a family law attorney of many years, I tell you with confidence that real-life divorces are more nuanced than either of those narratives.

What if, instead of focusing on the extremes of love and hate, we grappled with the fallout of Oona’s powerful question: “What if we all started talking in a real way about how it feels to leave an unhealthy partnership?”

  • What if lawyers, financial and mental health professionals together helped people think through what it takes to create a legally, emotionally, and financially safe and sustainable post-divorce life?
  • What if, as professionals we saw our role as helping people to create restructured families instead of divorced and deconstructed ones?
  • ·  What if the first question people asked someone divorcing was “Is your lawyer Consilium trained?”

Through our work at the Consilium Institute, we know what would happen. The lawyers that we have trained in Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York, are telling us about their reframed practices and better outcomes. Instead of Consilium certified attorneys telling people that divorce is primarily a court case or a financial transaction:

  • They are skilled and confident in acknowledging the inherent pain of someone letting go of something they’d hope would last a lifetime.  
  • They understand the systemic changes a family undergoes when restructuring, and have the tools to help people build strong restructured families in the wake of their divorce.  
  • They have a reliable process that assures they not only meet someone’s immediate legal goals, but also gives them scaffolding for the future life they envision.

Consilium trained attorney Jared Wood says it better than I do.

We welcome you to our trainings and to The Tapestry, our netweaving community of attorneys, financial, and mental health professionals.  We welcome you to learn more, and apply to be included as one of our upcoming training participants.

Our next in-person trainings are:

  • Boston: August 18th and 19th
  • Colorado: June 2nd and 3rd

We hope to see you there and welcome you to the bold answer to what’s next.

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