In my nearly forty years of representing people in divorce cases, I have seen a lot of battles and many very depressed people.
About halfway through my career, an old friend I hadn't seen in several years called and scheduled an appointment to talk about a divorce. He was a great guy and was married to a nice woman. I signed on as his attorney and what I thought was going to be an easy case quickly turned into the War of the Roses (a great movie, by the way, in case you haven't seen it). These two got along famously with everyone else, but in dealing with each other it was a constant battle.
They argued about timesharing with the children. They argued about alimony. They argued about who would keep the house and who would get the dog. They even argued about the Tupperware. Really, they did.
After nearly a year and a half, we finally slugged it out in court and the judge made a ruling that pleased neither one of them. I felt bad for my client who, like many divorcing people, had been through a struggle that had taken away his time, his energy, his money and his good attitude. I wished him well and told him that I hoped to see him around.
Six months later, he surprised me by appearing at my office. When the receptionist buzzed me to tell me he was in the lobby, I started thinking about all of the horrible things people had done to each other after divorces and how, with some couples, the fighting never ends.
I met him in the lobby and we exchanged handshakes and smiles. I asked, "What are you doing here? Is everything all right? Do you need something?" He responded, "Nothing's wrong. I just wanted to come by to tell you that there is life after divorce." I breathed a sigh of relief and said, "You must have a girlfriend!" He told me that he had dated a few women, but was not in any kind of serious relationship. He explained how he had adjusted to his new life and that he enjoyed being back in a calm existence.
Ever since that day, I have told all of my new clients that story and explained to them that there will be a time when the horrors they are experiencing in the breakup of their marriage will end and they will find peace. Most cannot believe it when I tell them. Months later, after the divorces are over, the story has repeated itself when many of those clients have stopped me at the mall or the grocery store and reminded me of what I said. They confirm that there is life after divorce and that they are at peace.
How did they do it? The original guy began by spending his new spare time by engaging in an activity that he had put off for years -- playing golf. Other than the fact that he hits some bad shots and is never satisfied with his game, he still has found solace in being out in the fresh air and playing a game he has enjoyed forever.
Another client joined a bridge club that she never had time for during her marriage. She meets once a week with her girlfriends and plays the game while they talk to each other about their problems and their joys.
One client joined a gym and found that he now had time to go and discovered that a workout every other day brings him energy and contentment.
Another had time to sing in a chorale group and found her high school singing came back to her big time. She thought back to her high school days and found the innocent enjoyment that she experienced back then.
One client traveled more than ever. He didn't have time for it before, but now has the time and budgeted his money to allow him to take some trips.
Another client was not a very good father before the divorce. Since then, he has spent way more time with his children. He coaches the soccer team and shows up at all of their medical and dental appointments. He is pleased to be an involved parent.
They have all become not only better parents, but more relaxed people. THERE IS LIFE AFTER DIVORCE.
Stann Givens has been practicing law in Florida for 41 years and is the founding partner of Givens Givens Sparks. He has been Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a Marital and Family Lawyer since 1991, on the list of "Best Lawyers in America" since 1998, and been named a "Super Lawyer" since 2006.