A young couple I know were in a motorcycle accident on the first day of summer. They chose not to wear their helmets to go on a short ride around the neighborhood..not far and not fast. He went to take a right turn and had to swing wide around a parked car and came face-to-face with an oncoming car. We think he laid the bike down to avoid a collision and as he did, he grabbed his fiance and pulled her on top of him. She was out of the hospital in three days, he died from his injuries. We will never know if a helmet would have saved him. His parents divorced when he was 3 or 4. Three families were devastated that night. My former husband and I came within a hair’s breath of losing our only child.
Why share such a personal story with you? Two reasons. First, the young man’s parents barely spoke and when they did, hurtful things were said by both. They could not work together to plan their son’s memorial and they could not reach agreement on how to handle his ashes. Second, the loss of a young man I had come to think of as my son, has made me look at the world very differently. The children we assume will outlive us, might not. Every moment with them is vital.
So many people going through divorce see it as a winner take all proposition. Perhaps it is out of fear, anger, spite or revenge but it is important for them to win at all costs. Money is more important to them than preserving a relationship as co-parents. Being the better parent at all costs becomes more important than communicating as co- parents. In the end, no one wins, feelings are hurt, egos are bruised, children are caught in the middle and the wounds may never heal. Imagine those parents getting the worst phone call of their lives and having to now handle that grief together.
When I work with couples now, I ask them to look at the big picture and to determine what matters the most. Is it really so important to “win”? Isn’t it your children that matter the most? Wouldn’t you rather put them first above all else? Wouldn’t you rather learn to become good co-parents than fight until the lawyers have all of your money?
In the end, it is our children who are more precious than money or property and as hard as it is to say, we could lose them in an instant. Spend the time in your divorce focusing on your most valuable assets…your children.