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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 6:04 am | Fair 50º


Brian Burke: About Your Divorce (Letter 121) — Better: The Necessary and Sufficient Property

Oblique Strategy #17 — Better: the necessary and sufficient property of the good divorce.

I’ve written well over 100,000 words for this column. The following sentence is more significant and more useful than any other I’ve written: The single necessary property of a good divorce is that you are a better person at its conclusion than you were at the outset.

Divorce is essentially the psychological process of grief. It is so powerful that it changes the person who experiences it.

It can be represented as follows:

[BEFORE] You1 → You2 [AFTER] 

Change isn’t optional. It’s like having a baby, going to war or suffering a loss of equivalent magnitude. What’s optional is whether you get better or worse — whether you grow or shrink:

You1  → You2   or  You1You2 

Once explained, the proposition will be obvious to some people.

Others, including lawyers, will fairly ask, “What’s that even mean, ‘better person’?”

Better is to be defined by the person going through the process. If you engage with the process, it will be an opportunity to reconsider old ideas and values and to discover new or different ideas and values.

This may involve a change or changes to how you define or think of yourself as a better person.

If you end up being a better person at the conclusion of your divorce, everything else is secondary; however, if at the end of your case you are smaller, meaner, crueler, more resentful or envious and/or bitter than you were at the outset, then you’ve lost no matter how well you do materially.

This is the most important thing I’ve learned about divorce and the best information and advice I’ve got to offer.

Just before writing my second draft of this column, I started a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) produced by Yale University called “The Moralities of Everyday Life,” a course taught by psychologist Paul Bloom.

In his introductory lecture Bloom gives three reasons for taking the course: 

1. The subject matter is fascinating. There will be inquiry into such topics as, what insights can the social and biological sciences answer with regard to ancient questions concerning kindness and evil or determinism and free will? 

2. The presentation of each class will be engaging with multimedia presentations and live contributions from some of the most influential scientists and philosophers of our time, and

3. Twenty minutes into the first lecture (on YouTube) Professor Bloom says: “The third reason to take the course, and I’m phrasing this tentatively, is that it might make us better people.”

It might make us better people?! What are we waiting for? Use this Noozhawk link, and you’ll get a full ride to Yale!

Next column: Oblique Strategy #18 — See the reason for your excessive emotions.

— Brian H. Burke is a certified family law specialist practicing family law and mediation in Santa Barbara. A researcher and educator in the field of divorce and family conflicts, he is also the creator of the Legal Road Map™. Click here for more information, call 805.965.2888 or e-mail [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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