Tongue Twisters




Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper. Where’s the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked?
Red lorry; yellow lorry.

Tongue twisters. They are difficult to get our mouths round and even if we do they hardly make any real point at all.
It’s the same with feelings. They can be difficult to express and even after hours of analysing them, they may still fail to make sense.

She sells sea shells on the sea shore; the shells she sells are sea shells I’m sure.


Originally posted on 17 August 2007


Grexit


Every family lawyer across the land acts for at least one client who is arguing over money.

Once upon a time, one couple, whom I shall refer to simply as Angela and Alexis, were joined in union back in 1981, over thirty years ago. On reflection it was probably not a match made in heaven, she with her Germanic work ethic and values and he with a potentially more laid back air about him. However the relationship has persisted and to the point where, after twenty years, they even agreed to a joint bank account, although it could be argued that it was always Angela who has controlled the purse strings. 

In recent years, hit by the global economic crisis, Alexis has spent half his time without employment and although Angela has allowed him to draw from the account it has been on the basis that he drastically curtails his expenditure and repays the sums taken with interest. Sadly it has become harder for him to make the payments into the account which Angela has demanded and communication has become difficult as a result, each making impossible demands on the other so far as their monetary arrangements are concerned and blackmail has even been alleged. 

Neighbours have sought to assist in bartering an agreement, but when Alexis decided to consult and involve his relatives concerning the terms proposed by Angela, she has taken umbrage and declared that there can be no deal. Uncle Jean-Claude has today asked them to compromise but they seem to be becoming more entrenched.

Who knows how it will end? Will there be reconciliation or will Alexis be forced to open his own bank account and will he be able to borrow sufficient funds to meet his financial commitments in the meantime?

Regardless of how Angela and Alexis endeavour to resolve their issues, I would predict more tears and tension in the short term; the embroilment of others around them; finally a solution, the terms of which are probably unattractive to both at this juncture but better than the stalemate that they are now in; the innate gift of self-preservation to see them through the immediate aftermath; ultimately, in due course, time as the great healer.




The Monster-in-Law



I have just returned from Cuba. Our guide could hardly have been more knowledgeable and was generally able to answer all our questions. He explained that not only do Cubans invariably work in the place where they are brought up but they also continue to live with their parents even after marriage. Tradition dictates that daughters and their husbands live with her parents rather than his.

I enquired about divorce and was informed that, “It happens and there is lots of it, it’s the mother-in-law you see.”

In case I hadn’t understood the extent of the problem he then added, “In Cuba we call her the monster-in-law!”


Worry Beads


Outdoor Man and I have recently returned from a trip to Greece during which we travelled back from the island of Paxos by speedboat.

The skipper and his only crew member talked animatedly the whole of the journey, repeatedly jabbing their fingers in the direction of the coastline and it would appear (although I don’t speak Greek) discussing the best route to follow.

None of this would of course have held much interest for me except that bouncing across the waves, I could not help but notice that they anxiously clicked worry beads through their fingers.

In circumstances where these beads are intended to guard against bad luck it would be tempting to think that it was a result of the amber pieces being hit against each other than we navigated safely back to shore. I was even told that in Greece there is a worry bead ritual for bridegrooms to follow on the night before their wedding.


Perhaps there are times when we should all have a set to help find our way through troubled waters.


Marriages Made in Heaven



News at the weekend included reference to the celebrationstaking place to acknowledge that the twinning of Dull in Scotland with Boring in Oregon, USA has endured for a full year. The initial union and its continuation would suggest that where there are shared values and similarities, a meaningful relationship can grow. A marriage made in Heaven, we might say.


I do wonder, therefore, if instead the association had been between Dull and Carefree in Arizona or alternatively Happy Adventure in Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada whether it would have lasted. Whilst it is said that opposites attract, when they do, as most divorcees and their lawyers can vouch, they are also the relationships that can result in the bond from Hell. For instance would Carefree and Happy Adventure have really been as keen as Boring to indulge in 5 hours of folk singing and bagpipes to mark a first wedding anniversary? 


Le Grand Depart (Yorkshire)



It is an established and by no means unsurprising phenomenon that alcohol and celebrations can be an explosive cocktail, sufficient to sever a marriage that is already floundering. It seems however that if you add sport into the mix, the situation can become lethal. Indeed according to this article in Canada’s National Post, the divorce rate spikes after the annual Calgary Stampede in July with its party atmosphere conducive to both the beginning and ending of marriages.

Last weekend I was at one of the biggest parties linked to sport that Yorkshire has ever seen when it hosted the start of Le Tour de France.  On Buttertubs Pass and back in Hawes, both before and after the race passed through, there was certainly a festive spirit.

After reading about the effect of the Stampede I do wonder whether there are any likely repercussions on domestic bliss in the Dales from the world’s biggest cycle race. After all sitting astride a bucking bronco can’t feel that different to being glued to a bicycle saddle for 5 hours, can it? 

Kefalonian Idyll



Last week I travelled to Kefalonia on holiday. It is a beautiful destination; very peaceful and quiet.

It's been at least 10 years since I visited Greece and I was pleased to see little had changed. Indeed, although we stayed in a modern villa, it still connected by tiny drainage pipes to the cesspit.

With so many things causing strife between couples I do wonder if this could be another. Certainly it wasn't to Outdoor Man's liking.

Now in all my years of practice I have never had anyone claim as grounds for divorce the size of their drainage pipes. Are things different in Greece?

Do arguments rage over blockages and who gets the drainage rods out next? Is there a shortage of plumbers when you really need one? Alternatively is it a case of shut up and put up? Or is there perhaps a collaborative solution where lateral thinking gets everyone petitioning for a change in pipe sizes rather than for divorce?



On Display



The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb will be exhibiting at London’s Southbank Centre this summer. A couple of years ago Apprentice Man (who really deserves a change of name now that he is grown up) inspired by what I can only assume was a morbid curiosity for my work, visited that museum whilst travelling around Croatia.

He showed me the photographs afterwards. I recall that there was the axe which had belonged to  the jilted guy who chopped his ex’s furniture into little pieces when she took off on  holiday with her lesbian lover. There was also the wing mirror of the car smashed by a woman who had found it parked outside an unknown address by her two-timing husband.

Now you can have the opportunity not only to marvel over such artefacts but also to donate them. The Southbank Centre is inviting gifts of items from past relationships to coincide with its Festival of Love and the exhibition by the Croatian museum.


Let It Go



Whilst married people can be healthier and happier than their single counterparts the results of a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown that this is not always the case. Sadly it seems that marital stress can make the sufferer more prone to depression.

Constantly put down or let down by your spouse can lower your resilience to a point where the high points of life no longer provide pleasure.

None of this is of course any surprise to family lawyers who frequently take instructions from people who have hit rock-bottom before finally seeking to remove themselves from a debilitating and repressive marriage.

Further research is now needed as to how to enable people to become resilient to the triggers which invoke stress (meditation is suggested). In the meantime perhaps I shall consider retraining as a Yoga Guru.




Saints and Sinners



The Pope declared two of his predecessors to be saints today in a ceremony attended by thousands.

Although undoubtedly not truly worthy of canonisation, it is surprisingly not uncommon in solicitors’ offices  across the land for one divorcing spouse to refer to the other as a saint for putting up with them for so long. Alternatively I have acted for people who have told me that they consider themselves to be saints for accepting the behaviour of their other half, sometimes for decades.

In the context of a marriage break up, I don’t know how often the concept of sainthood is actually discussed directly. Certainly I cannot recall receiving a letter suggesting: “Our client believes your client to be a saint for enduring him/her and his/her behaviour.”


Collaborative law is different. Sometimes it provides just that opportunity for one or both to endeavour to acknowledge their shortcomings and the hurt caused. Whilst hearing that may not result in forgiveness, it can nevertheless enable a couple to work together towards resolving their settlement terms.