I’ve got young kids and there are no books I enjoy reading to them more than Dr. Seuss. The lessons, philosophy and morality packed into each of his stories is truly genius.
I recently read the read The Zax again and was reminded how apropos it was for a divorce lawyer and my clients.
Here’s a refresher for you:
Just as the north going Zax and the south going Zax find themselves at odds and refuse to move, many divorce attorneys and their clients do the same in trying to resolve family disputes and divorces. And, just as the Zax waste their lives in intractable conflict while the world goes on around them, many clients are lead to waste time and money in intractable court battles or negotiations.
(A telling part of the story is when the South Going Zax boasts that he was taught to handle conflict this way in South Going (read, law) school!)
It is easy to see that the Zax are silly to act on their principles because their principles seem so inane to us. But, to the Zax, those principles are everything. Those principles mean as much to the Zax as our children, financial security and peace of mind mean to us.
So, the real lesson is that often in the world, even deeply held principle must give way to creative problem solving. Otherwise, we would all still be standing in front of the first Zax that we came across. And we would miss the opportunity to resolve the conflict so that we could again focus on our children, financial security and peace of mind.
If you are facing a divorce, or are in the middle of the divorce, think about whether you (or your attorney) are a Zax and what you are missing (or spending) while you stand there defending your principle. Perhaps refusing to budge is your best strategy, but perhaps altering course slightly will get you to your goal quicker.
Blame is a big dynamic in both marriage and divorce. And yet, it almost never moves clients towards their goals. Brené Brown (yes, I am a special fan of hers simply for the use of the accent in her name) does a great job of breaking blame down into what it is at it’s heart: an expression of pain or frustration:
What does it mean to be tough? In divorce, most people (including many lawyers) believe that it means “sticking to your guns”, never compromising, issuing the bigger threats, puffing more, “big talk”, using intimidation. In the name of toughness, people are frequently encouraged to be uncaring, to deny any empathy for their spouse, and to turn off all humane or positive feelings about their marriage and their spouse.
That’s one way to do it.