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Re-Read Moby Dick When Divorcing

Re-Read Moby Dick When Divorcing

Moby Dick Holds The Secret To A Friendly Divorce


"Reality outran apprehension"
    - Herman Melville, Moby Dick   

    Divorce attorneys aren't going to like this as one of them wryly said to me that his favorite client was someone who was "rich, angry and wrong."  I recently sat down with a friend who is very clear, wise, thoughtful and close friends and even works with her ex. 

I asked her how she accomplished that. She said, "Reality outran apprehension."

I said, "What?"

She said, "Yes, reality outran apprehension. It's a quote from Moby Dick. It means that we realized that when we first met we wanted the same things, a kid, a house, start a career, etc. Then as the years passed we discovered we were very different people who saw the world differently and enjoyed completely different things. At first we fought, but realized the reality was that neither of us were wrong, we had just grown apart to become the individuals each of us was meant to be. We decided that it made no sense to make the person wrong, just because they were different. And it made even less sense to tear down what was really good before we grew apart."

"What we also realized is that we got into conflict when what felt like the other person saying he or she was right, was in reality feeling that the other was telling them that they were completely wrong. So being protective and defensive and thinking: "I am not stupid and I am not always wrong" came across as, "I'm right and you're wrong."

She continued: "As soon as we realized this, all the animosity and need to be unfair to retaliate against feeling we were being treated that way lifted. As such, we realized we were too different to be in an intimate relationship, but we liked each other to stay good friends. After all a good friend is someone who accepts you for who you are and do the same in return."

Realizing you can each be different and yourself and not be wrong takes the worry out of being close…friends. 

Mark Goulston, M.D., is a well-known psychiatrist, speaker, business trainer and coach as well as author of "Get Out of Your Own Way," "Just Listen," and "The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship."  He writes a regular column, "Getting through to Anybody," for divorce360. He can be reached at mgoulston@markgoulston.com.

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