[I wrote this article the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, as I sat in a courtroom during a final divorce trial for a client last week. I’d worked on her case for two years, and I got to know her very well during that time.]
I look at the 27 boxes of documents and evidence that we’ve worked with throughout this case, and it’s hard to imagine that a 28-year marriage comes down to 27 boxes – ironically, that’s almost one box for every year of this marriage.
I’ve worked on many cases during the 20+ years I’ve been a paralegal. So what makes this one stand out for me?
It’s my client.
In his opening statement, the opposing attorney said “This lady has done nothing wrong. She has done nothing to deserve this.” And he is absolutely right.
Here are a few quick facts to help put her case in context. She was 22 when she got married and is now 50; her husband is 2 years older than she is. They have four beautiful daughters, ranging in age from 17 to 25. The 17-year old will graduate from high school in two months, the oldest has graduated from college, and the other two are both in college. She and her husband built a commercial real estate business that has been very successful, so they have enjoyed a very nice lifestyle.
Then two years ago last month, she found out that her husband was having an affair. With a girl who is only two years older than their oldest daughter.
That would be enough to make most women bitter and angry. And rightfully so.
But not this woman. Hurt, absolutely. And then she heard more things during the trial that added to her pain.
Through it all, she maintained a positive attitude. And she exhibited such feminine grace, dignity, and poise that it left me in awe.
That’s how I know she has a wonderful future ahead of her, regardless of what the judge ultimately decides about the case.
Like all of us, she has a choice. She can get caught up in the hurt and anger of the past, or she can choose to look to the future with hope. She has clearly chosen the latter.
Yes, she has fears. She told me that – like so many women – she doesn’t know anything about finances, because her husband handled all of that throughout their marriage. Everything is unknown and uncertain for her right now.
The hurt and pain she’s experienced over the past two years will fade in time. She knows that a new chapter of her life is beginning. One she didn’t ever think she’d be facing.
But knowing that she can’t change what’s happened, she’s building a new future.
She has the desire to make it the best it can be.
That was evident as she sat on the witness stand talking about her life, and especially when she talked about her daughters. She is a beautiful example, not only to her daughters, but to all of us.
I was betrayed by an ex-husband, so I know how painful it is. But like my client this week, I didn’t want to stay stuck in the past. I learned from it, just like she will. And I chose to look to the future with hope and anticipation. She will, too.
It’s a gift we’ve given ourselves.
I challenge you to learn from the past as well, but enjoy every minute of today, right now, and look forward to a bright new future. One that you create, on your terms.
Give yourself that gift!
I’d love it if you would leave a comment below and let me know how you’ve moved on after a divorce. And if you need help working through any post-divorce issues, please feel free to email me. I’d love to chat with you to see if I can support you in your journey. We’re all in this together, and together we can empower each other to build exciting new futures.