Thursday, 28 November 2013
The agony of divorce
A High Court judge said recently he was filled with "nothing but despair" over a wealthy couple who had already spent some £700,000 on divorce proceedings which had barely started, such were the labyrinthine arguments about aspects of the relationship. He decried the "unedifying" sight of a family "tearing itself apart."
It seems virtually impossible for a couple to divorce amicably and sensibly, with the bare minimum of fuss. The long-standing anger and resentment that led to the split in the first place seem to boil over in the courtroom and create one impasse after another. Each partner is afraid of giving too much away, losing out, appearing to be weak, and they keep upping the ante.
I know of several couples whose divorce was a horrific experience, with one or the other digging their heels in, refusing to compromise, and making life as difficult as possible for the soon-to-be ex-spouse. Very profitable for the lawyers but a nightmare for the warring couple.
There have been many attempts to replace ugly court cases with informal mediation arrangements, but quite often they lead to much the same stubborn wrangling.
My parents were sometimes bruised enough to talk about getting divorced. But they never did. In the end they stuck together as that's what most couples did in those days. "For the sake of the children" as they usually explained it. Maybe they should have divorced, but I'm glad they didn't. I can only imagine the tearful and rancorous scenes it would have involved and the misery for each parent as they tried to move on.
A shame there isn't some kind of foolproof psychological test couples can take before they marry, to determine if they're truly compatible or in the throes of some grand romantic illusion. It could save an awful lot of agony later on if things turn nasty.