I recently decided it was time to give my website a makeover. My website designer and I decided that blue would be a primary color in the design and she asked me to send her shades of blue that appealed to me.
I typed "blue" into my browser and went to work looking through Google images. Every shade of blue imaginable popped up. As I scrolled through, I found a few shades that appealed to me and there was one shade that I particularly liked, but I could only find it as the background to a word cloud. I spent quite a while looking for that same exact shade of blue that was clean and free of words. I had no success with my search, so I eventually decided to include the word cloud with the other shades of blues and sent them off to my designer.
A word cloud is more than just a collection of synonyms; the letters and words are designed to speak to the eye at the same time as they speak to the brain, guiding different people through different paths, ultimately leading to the same notion.
It was only days later that I actually "saw" the words that were covering up the blue I liked so much. Take a look at the image above. Every word in the cloud has a connection to an amicable divorce - words that I hear my clients speaking all the time as they are moving through their divorce process. They tell me their goals are to achieve stability for themselves and their children and to make sure they are protected during the process. They are sincere in their desire to reach a durable agreement. They want harmony with their future ex-spouse. They are seeking control in the process and freedom from a judge telling them what is best for their family.
I found this word cloud accidentally. In fact, I did everything to find the "perfect" blue that wasn't sullied by any words. But if I had really looked at this image, I would have realized it appealed to me exactly because of the words. Sometimes we don't see the forest through the trees. This time, I didn't see the trees in the forest.
This is the same trap that I see my divorcing clients fall into. They all have goals that they're trying to achieve and they keep striving to find the perfect solution or agreement that they think will meet those goals. It's only later that they realize the answer is in front of them, even though it looked very different from what they expected.
A prime example is a client who may insist he wants 50/50 parenting time with his child, while his wife insists that the child should spend more weekday nights in her home. He may push back and try to convince her that 50/50 is the way to go. If they continue to argue over this point, it could destroy other agreements they've been able to reach that are also important to him. It's my job to make sure he and I both understand what is important to him about this parenting schedule. This is going to require some introspection. He may tell me the goal is to have more quality time with his son, to be able to walk him to school and speak with the other parents and teachers, and to read him more bedtime stories at night. I need to encourage him to think about a schedule that meets those goals while simultaneously meeting his wife's goals. In the end, a schedule that has the child with him 45% of the time may give him everything he wants and is still something his wife can agree to.
This kind of thinking - that only sees one solution to solve a problem - is very limiting and is a primary reason why divorcing couples end up in court. Instead, I want to help my clients determine what is important and why. This way they will be open to many options, rather than just the "perfect" one.
In your divorce, are there solutions that you may not be seeing?