Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to let go. If you have small children you know that this can especially be true for them. Who has not seen one of their children tugging on a toy while their brother or sister pulls equally hard in the other direction? And when asked why they fight invariably one or the other will yell that the toy is theirs. Having faced this situation countless times as I raised my own children I often resorted to asking one of them (usually the oldest) to do the “right thing.” Usually, the default answer was, “Why should I? It’s mine!” If you have ever argued with a five year old you know that situations like this usually ended with one or both children crying.
Sometimes though, something surprising would happen. One of the kids would let go and would let the other take the toy. It did not always happen, but when it did you could see a spark of wisdom take root for at least that moment. Those moments were precious to me as a Dad because I could literally see the growth in my children, and I could see that they “got it.”
They understood that kindness is sometimes best; they learned that life is not always fair, and they learned that in self-sacrifice there is joy. They also learned that sometimes things are not that important. I doubt my children remember these events; they seem to recall the big events, but not so much the everyday.
Ask yourself this: can you recall what your last fight with your spouse or your child was about? If you are like me, you probably cannot. Sure, there are the big events that we remember, but most of the everyday we forget, and so it should be.
As a Family Law attorney I often see situations like the one I have discussed here. What I have found is that sometimes letting go makes all the difference in reaching a fair agreement or just settling the case. The toughest cases are those in which one party or the other cannot let go. They insist on continuing to be in control and to exert their ownership over everything.
Divorce is all about letting go. Yes, it is about dividing property and parenting time, but it is primarily about letting go of a relationship that has failed. In the letting go there is freedom if it is done right.
I have found that the most successful divorces, if there is such a thing, are the ones in which one party or the other has done just this. They may give up an item of personal property, or they may let go of anger, or fear. When this happens it is empowering for them because they begin to assert control over themselves, which is all the control any of us can exert in the long run. I am not talking about being a door mat or being bullied; what I am talking about is a self-awareness in which a person takes the long view and refuses to allow another person to determine how they think or feel.
This can take different forms for each of us. It might be as simple as setting boundaries or realizing that the present fight just is not that important. We can help in this process.