During the past few years, my divorce practice has been transitioning - from a practice that helps people get divorces, to (at times) a practice that helps people stay married. In fact, recently when asked what I did for a living, I heard myself saying that I was a "marriage lawyer". Was it a Freudian slip? Can someone be a "marriage lawyer"?
Can a divorce lawyer help a marriage?
My transition from divorce lawyer to marriage lawyer happened in the following way: First, I started analyzing the personal stories of people who came to my office for a divorce consultation. In many instances, they seemed to be complaining of the normal things that occur in a marriage. In short marriages, I often saw a pattern of intense dislike of the person one loved developing a few short years after the marriage. What happened to that affection? How could the closeness they once felt turn to anger so quickly and completely?
In longer marriages, I noticed that many of the problems articulated by the parties to the marriage had to do with money, finances and practical security issues. Another major topic was the issue of contribution to the marriage. When finances are uncertain, and when one (or both parties) feel like the level of contribution by their spouse is not commensurate with theirs, the marriage will be in trouble. Key facts are periods of joblessness, inability to work in or outside of the house, not-agreed-upon spending patterns, lack of appreciation for a spouse's efforts, or lack of a spouse's effort in the marriage enterprise. There is also the problem of lack of appreciation and respect for the spouse, often the detritus of daily interaction over many years. Why is it that people often treat the individuals closest to them worse than strangers or colleagues?
Many people who come to my office asking about divorce tell me stories that I have seen and encounter from my married clients, friends and relatives. Evaluating a story and telling someone that their story is in the "normal" range for marriages can be very helpful to a client. Telling a client that many people work out the problems they are expressing and stuck in can be "news" to a client. That news is very empowering to spouses in a painful marriage. It is good know that there may be a solution to their tension and unhappiness, because not so many people actually wish or prefer to end their marriages. Most would like to work it out. They just feel there is no other choice.
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For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at http://www.familylawmarin.com/