Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I Learned At Jury Duty


I am one of those lucky people who gets called for jury duty every year.

Normally, I don’t mind at all. My work pays for the day, I get to sit and grade papers, and if I get called up to the jury box I usually get dismissed. Instead of the large jury room, I hang out in the cafeteria where there is a wide variety of snacks to buy, an Internet connection and comfortable chairs. All in all, it’s usually a pretty good place to get things done.

This year, however, as I entered the courthouse, things felt different.

I am usually far removed from legal actions but HOB’s demand of a divorce has put me in the middle of one.

Since I did not want the divorce, I initially resisted researching all the legal ramifications. Soon, though, it dawned on me that it didn’t matter if I wanted a divorce or not, it was going to happen. So, reluctantly, I forced myself to read about the legal ins and outs of divorce.

Friends advised me early on to go out and get the meanest, nastiest divorce lawyer I could, but I resisted. Just recently, however, HOB and gotten together to talk about the division of assets and it hadn't gone well. Afterwards, HOB went to see a lawyer for a consultation and I finally went to one for a consultation as well. (A really decent man, not a shark.)

We were still trying to work things out between us, but increasingly, I felt the chill of legal friction in the air. Maybe that's why I was so sensitive to what was going on around me in the cafeteria that day at jury duty.

As I sat grading essays, I overheard a heated conversation going on at a nearby table. It was a divorcing couple discussing custody. The debate was loud and it was ugly. I could sense the bitterness and anger between the parents. The woman pointed to her husband and spat out, the words, “You WILL pick him up every Wednesday!” My stomach churned and I left a lump rise up in my throat.

I glanced over at another table and saw a man with a lawyer, looking down at papers. I caught snippets of their conversation and knew immediately, it was about a divorce. I shook my head to clear it and looked down at a fresh essay I pulled out of the stack on my lap, but my concentration was all gone.

Gathering my things, I headed down to the other end of the cafeteria where I saw, (yes, you guessed it), another woman with her lawyer discussing the terms of her divorce. At a nearby table, her husband sat with his lawyer. On each table were stack and stacks of legal papers. I could see the anger and hurt emanating from the people and even from the stacks of papers.

Suddenly, it seemed antagonistic, combative language was everywhere and it became visible to me. I could see it rising from the tables all over the cafeteria, a black, heavy cloud over my head that soon pressed down upon my chest until it was hard for me to breathe.

Tears came to my eyes as I thought about the battle that was in front of me.

Was this what HOB and I would come to? I thought about HOB’s tone the last time we had talked. He was running short on patience as he tried to explain to me how stock options worked.

We discussed what would come of the house. I was still operating on pure emotion. To him the house is an asset that can be given a cold dollar figure and placed in columns on the spreadsheet. To me, it is my home, my memories, and my shelter. My emotional response to him when we discussed the house only served to make him more exasperated with me.

Increasingly he seemed to be getting suspicious of the suggestions I made. I still felt betrayed by him and let him know it at every turn. We were both easily irritated with the other and ready to lash out. I knew once lawyers got fully involved, that the battle would be on. Would we be able to move on from such strife?

While I know HOB and I will never see eye-to-eye about this divorce, I had hoped to at least remain civil and to have a non-combative relationship in the future for the sake of our boys.

I went home and thought about what I had seen at the courthouse.

The next time I talked to HOB, I told him I wanted to have more peaceful, productive talks. I suggested that instead of having separate lawyers, he look over what the lawyer I had gone to would write up and then, if he agreed to the terms there, sign off on it.

He has agreed to this plan and I am grateful to him for that peace offering.

I know HOB and I still have a lot to work out, but I now have a full and clear vision of what I do not want to become. Don’t get me wrong. I am not rolling over and playing dead. I will make sure I protect my future.

But I want that future to hold, for both of us, a sense of dignity and a sense of pride that we did not denigrate the other in this process.

In the end, for us, and for our children, that will be the biggest asset of all.

59 comments:

Mamma has spoken said...

Good luck with all of it. It is better to have a friendly divorce for the kids sake....

Gods Little People said...

Dear Betty
I think you're both wise and insightful in your approach. I once heard a quote; "you lean against that which resists you" - and in the case of you sugesting HOB to look over things with the lawyer, you weren't any longer resisting him - and his own weight came tumbling forward (no resistance). It's amazing how that melts something in people!
I hope things remain amicable for the sake of your children.
Godspeed to you.

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

(((HUGS))) sweet Betty. Thanks for sharing your heart today. You are such an inspiration.

You are wise. (Psalm 34:14)

Madi and Mom said...

BB....you are a wise, kind, caring woman and one day HOB will realize what he lost.
You can, indeed, catch more flies with honey and vinegar!!
Hugs C

Lin said...

You are so very wise, Betty. Add that to the resume of Betty adjectives: brave, strong, wise. (More to come, I'm sure)

As long as you can live the life you are accustomed to (within reason considering the situation), I would just be done with it. All that wrangling for stuff (well, and money--I get it) isn't worth the anguish and emotional drain.

Divorce is never easy. I had a friend who just walked away after years of a cruddy marriage. She gave in to all of his concessions just to get out and he was STILL mad. So, do what you can to keep yourself sane and peaceful.

You are something, Betty. Really. I admire you and the strength you have. You are an inspiration, pally.

Sending extra hugs today!

Anne Gallagher said...

You are a much bigger woman than I could ever be, Betty. Bravo to you. But please, please, please, protect your future. Don't give in because of pressure or what you feel is right or allowing you to get through this horrible tragedy. I don't want you getting screwed over like I've seen so many other friends.

Out on the prairie said...

I a lot of states if you agree to all you can just sign papers. I was surprised the evil over the house hadn't started. A friend gave in to his wife and gave her the home she needed so bad and 3 months later she sold it for lots more than it had been appraised, thanks to her sneeky lawyer.Not always a bed of roses for those who formerly professed love for ever to each other.

Donna said...

Divorce is Hard...Been there, done that...just remember that it was SO easy for him to leave...it will be even easier for him to take what does NOT belong to him...I think you still need your Own lawyer...but this is not My divorce. When it comes to the almighty dollar people change. A year from now you'll wonder why you didn't fight.
Can you tell I don't trust him??Hahaaa...
Just looking out for you...
(((HUG)))

Flartus said...

Well, I am glad you "lawyered up," as they say. Even if you are still emotional, your lawyer can be the logical buffer you need to see a bit more clearly. And always having that memory of the hateful divorcing couples can help you steer clear of that road to hell!

Sadly, it doesn't sound like you and FHOB will ever have a friendly relationship. I would settle for civil and respectful at this point. Maybe a few years down the road, when you're both comfortable in whatever new lives you establish, it will be easier to be friendly with each other. That mostly depends on him, I sense.

Good luck. I hope you don't need it. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty .. I do hope all goes peacefully well - with thoughts - Hilary

Pat Tillett said...

I hope it all goes smoothly for you. My divorce from my first wife was particularly nasty and involved. I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Oh, what an eye opening experience at the courthouse. I'm so sorry you have to go through this, but I think you have the right attitude now. I sincerely hope things go smoothly.

Teresa Evangeline said...

You've done exactly the right thing. Resistance leads to more resistance. God's Little People is right.

That cafeteria may well have been a gift for you to see what you needed to see.

Old Kitty said...

BB!! Good luck!! Truly! I wish more people who are going through divorce would do so as civilly as possible especially when there are children involved. Oh dear!

BIG HUGS to you, BB!!!!

Take care
x

Leah J. Utas said...

What a good, strong, and loving way to approach it. I believe this will serve you well.

Tabor said...

You are so smart. You see how the emotions cloud everything and you also remember to protect your future and then add to the mix a decent relationship for the children. I hope this goes smoothly for all. You need to get on with your new life.

Slamdunk said...

Your cool head and level apporoach is admirable Betty. I wish more would be like you.

Eva Gallant said...

Good luck in your attempt to keep things civil. I hope all goes well.

Anonymous said...

Protect yourself a lot, my friend's ex was amenable to a lot until she got a ton of bills for the woman he shacked up with community property state, she put an end to that plain and simple, she got the lovely home, car, possession is 9 tenths of the law, she has a two pensions..but the experience made her lose over 30 pounds and made her angry, her kids found out and they told their dad off, and never had anything to do with him again, no marriage attendances, no seeing the grandbabies they were scorched and even were in the court the day the divorce went before the judge to tell their dad what a yahoo he was and how he acted like a real jerk and there relationship was gone baby gone, over the years, she married a man the same thing happened to and were happy until the Lord took him home, she had many years of happiness with someone who got scorched, but found each other and lived for a while happy as could be..So something good came out of the scorching, just watch for legal stuff, protect yourself, get the home, don't move from it, make sure you are taken care, and make sure he doesn't hide assets, my friend found this out and guess what? she got half of what he hide what a fellow, she was married for many many years to someone who was sneaky, vengeful and just plain stupid it all came out in the divorce..be happy, find someone who wants&loves you and get on with your life, Karma has a way of giving out to those who shovel it out a lot! just saying!!!!!!!

Kristina said...

I can understand why being at the courthouse would make you so tense, especially being surrounded by hostility. I'm glad that you are planning to make sure you don't get the short end of any sticks. Thoughts and prayers to you! :) ((hugs))

Linda said...

Very wise, Betty. Very wise.

Nicole said...

Betty, this post in particular struck an emotional cord with me. I understand, and I am sooo proud of you for doing the right thing. I hate it when people want to seek out revenge. Most of my friends want me to "stick it to" the egyptian, and I refuse. What's the point? Right?

I am sending you positive thoughts, wishing I could share a cup of coffee with you (well - I am sipping one now - does that count?) and here's to fast forwarding one year from now!

Talli Roland said...

What a wise post, Betty. Your peace of mind for you and your children is worth so much more than assets, in my opinion. (Within reason, of course, and I'm sure you'll protect yourself!)

Lindy MacDuff said...

{{{{{Betty}}}}} I've been away and I see I've missed a lot. =( Very sad to hear this bit of information. I can offer no advice about divorce but it sounds like you've made some commendable decisions. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

SUGAR MOON said...

Good post! I'm with Donna I wouldn't trust him, but as long as you protect your future sounds like you are going in the right direction. Have a nice week!!

Liz said...

I'm sorry you had a day surrounded by divorce, stress and grief, but I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that a more amicable future is in the works. Good luck, BB.

Marg said...

We have to totally agree that it is so much better to have a peaceful agreement rather than a knock down drag out war. That doesn't get anyone anywhere. I think you are such a smart gal to do the way you are. Peace is worth so darn much. Take care and try to keep your chin up.

Baby Sister said...

Good luck Betty. I hope and pray that it doesn't end ugly. You deserve better than that. *hugs*

jenny_o said...

Taking the high road, being the bigger person - whatever you want to call it - is wise (and tough to do) and it will be worth it in the long run. Hang in there.

CherylK said...

See? You did the right thing. Already you are growing more independent. You are the better person, no question. xxoo

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Coming to the end of a marriage via divorce must be stressful but you are dealing with it the right way.Of course you have to make sure you'll be ok finacially and the children will be ok.Good Luck Betty you are a marvel.
Take care.
Yvonne.

Susan in the Boonies said...

I truly hope it works out as well as it can for both of you, Betty.

For the sake of your sanity, and for the sake of the kids.

Here's what I learned during my dear husband's heart attack, bypass surgery, and recovery.

Everyone who has been through something similar to what you are going through wants to tell you their story. Some will be similar to your experience, but some will have had circumstances occur that will make their experience wildly divergent from yours.

Pretty much, I just let people tell me their stories, took from them what hope I could, and prayed for the best.

But a lot of people had had HORRIBLE EXPERIENCES, that, in fact, had almost nothing to do with what I experienced.

So...consider carefully the advice you get with the stories you hear, but don't let the naysayers get you down. It doesn't HAVE to end badly.

Hugs!!!

Tracy said...

Betty,
I am so sorry you are having to experience this in your life; UGH! It won't be an easy path for either of you, or any of you as a matter of fact, but to do it in a civil manner is best for ALL...hugs and prayers.

EmptyNester said...

You are so right about this. My parents divorced when I was 21- I am the oldest of 4 siblings- and it was NOT anything resembling dignified or even remotely civil. After all these years my mother remains bitter and hateful about all of it and has made family gatherings so difficult for everyone. Please don't go down that path. You are so much better than that! Use your support system. You can do this because you have to- and you are right to choose a dignified path.

KLZ said...

Good luck. I respect your attitude towards this so much...I'm so hopeful for you that it all works out as best it can.

Ms. A said...

Marriage can be hard, divorce even harder. I hope you are able to realize your vision of civility, so long as you DON'T roll over and play dead. Believe me, doing that won't earn you the respect you deserve. Being a doormat rarely earns respect. (I know this well)

Brian said...

Wise you are, and hugs we send you.

Shan said...

I am not a fan of these lessons, but you present them so heartbreakingly well.

(I get called for jury duty all the time, too. Maybe they know we don't mind.)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Betty, that was a wise and honorable thing you did. Keep it civil - don't get run over but don't run him over either.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

Yep, we all have thoughts on this topic, which is so prevalent these days. Let me say this -- my younger sister took the same route you did, trying to be civil and ended up without her home, no child support and this was after her ex cheated on her and moved the girlfriend into her house shortly after papers had been filed.

My opinion: whoever leaves needs to take ownership and reap what they sowed. You keep your house. Period. You didn't ask for this. No reason you should be inconvenienced or put in a bad situation because he got tired of being married.

xoxo

Loretta said...

Hi Betty, I lost all of my followers with this blooger thing and have been looking for everybody! You are one...I'm sorry about that dang miss up, but I'm back with you...if you'll have me!

Laura Eno said...

Hi, Betty *hugs*
I admire your dignity...but I also agree with Donna. Stand your ground while still taking the high road. It was so easy for him to walk out on you - it would be easy for him to bend you over a barrel too.
Your sons will see you and him as two separate people and make their own peace with the situation. Don't worry about them. They're adults and can deal with it.

Loretta said...

Wise woman you are! Although most wouldn't agree, dignity can go a very long way. I would have done the same. Hope things continue to be civil. Hugs coming your way! Loretta

Ann said...

a very smart decision Betty. When I was going through my divorce, there were things that I declined simply because it wasn't worth the effort. My lawyer asked me if I was sure that was what I wanted to do and I assured him it was. He told me that the way my x and i were doing things was a good decision because in a drawn out battle the only one who was going to win was him and the other lawyer :)

Melissa Sugar said...

As an attorney I am always interested in hearing the views of others. I hope that you and your husband can work it out without destroying each other. My ex husband and I are both attorneys and when we divorced after 20 years we realized that our divorce attorneys were pitting us against each other. We fired the attorneys and handled it ourselves and did so amicably, If you and your husband can do so then I suggest foregoing the attorneys. If however you have even the slightest fear that your husband is not being fair then you really have no alternative but to retain the services of an attorney to protect you.

Good luck, Even the most amicable divorces are painful.

Lydia Kang said...

I am glad you are trying to do this as peacefully as possible but I also agree with Donna. Please do everything you can to protect yourself. He's not going to look after your best interests at all.
Hugs.

Ciara said...

*hugs* Divorce is so difficult. So many people get hurt. I hope and pray that you both work things out, in whatever way fits both of you and those precious boys.

Brian (not the cat) said...

I think it's the lawyers that pit people against each other, so instead of working out a reasonable division of assets, they can just give everything to the lawyers. I'm sorry you had to see those horrible sights at the courthouse.

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

Hi Betty, I am so sorry. I have been absent from blogworld and this took me totally by surprise. I've been through it. I agree with you. It is better for everyone if you can keep it on an even keel. Take care of you, Betty, and keep taking the high road. Thinking of you.

Marlene said...

As someone who has been down this road before, I can tell you that I believe you are doing the right thing. As long as your lawyer is decent, and things can be worked out amicably - it is much better for the two parties involved to walk away with their assets than it is for the lawyers to end up with a good chunk of them.

Hilary said...

You are a wise woman, Betty. I am truly sorry that you're going through this but I know you have a great head on your shoulders and will do what's best for yourself and for your kids. Be strong.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I hope you get it worked out. I have a friend at work whose children are young. It's very difficult for him as they battle over custody.

Parsley said...

I just can't imagine the pain you are going through.

Sush said...

Taking the 'High Road' is usually the better choice! Sounds like you've got the right idea. and the will and determination to make it a positive outcome.

Hugs~

BECKY said...

Hi Betty. I'm a little behind in my reading. I read the one above first (about the primary accounts) and commented on it, then read this one. I don't know how you are keeping your cool with HOB through this...You know what I think! I don't need to add it in a comment!

Venassa said...

I hope you guys can stay civil through it all. I'm sure it'll be really hard at times, but I wish you luck. You seem to be handling everything so maturely.

LittleSilkDress said...

Positive thoughts and hugs. Do you what you need to do.

Leanne said...

Yikes . . . I'm sorry you had to endure all of those sights at court. And I applaud your spirit and your goodness, Betty. I really am so glad to know you.

Daisy said...

Betty, I guess if there is one thing to be grateful for in all of this that you are having to deal with is that at least your sons are grown, and you don't have to fight over custody of them with HOB. I think it is a wise move to try and be as civil as possible with HOB during the divorce proceedings. Anger and bitterness won't serve either of you. Hugs to you as you find your way through this maze.