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Patience and Adaptation

Getting divorced when it seems like you can’t

By Felicia Soleil, Attorney and Mediator

“Patience is not passive. On the contrary, it is concentrated strength.”

This quote, attributed to martial arts great Bruce Lee, could not be more timely in this age of work-from-home and stay-at-home orders while trying to navigate our personal relationships within our homes. As I write this column in mid-April for June publication, it appears we may be in for continued limitations requiring greater patience than we thought we were capable of.

When otherwise happy and healthy relationships are being tested by such continued close proximity to our housemates, what can you do if your intimate partnership was already fraying at the edges before this pandemic began? Or more disconcerting, what if you had already made the decision to separate and then your plans were sidelined almost overnight by government mandates to work from home (or lose work all together) and stay at home?

Here is the answer: Adapt to receiving needed professional services through technology. If done right, it should still feel compassionate, empathetic, informative and personal.

Just as I have been forced to learn to adapt, offering my divorce mediation and legal services through “working from home,” you can adapt to how you receive those services.

It takes patience, and internal strength, to learn something new and get outside of your comfort zone, especially when marital discord and conflict exist. But having the willingness to explore new options for receiving crucial dispute resolution services and professional support can allow your separation and divorce to be accomplished in a low impact and less costly manner rather than allowing your situation to escalate while doing nothing.

Through early and smart professional intervention, you can avoid your situation erupting to the point of making huge financial and parenting mistakes from which it may take much longer to recover under our current circumstances. (Not to mention, would you rather be problem-solving in a virtual mediation session from the comfort of your own home or participating in a court hearing within a virtual courtroom?)

What has this to do with patience? Well, everything! I must admit, being a middle-aged, tech-averse divorce professional in a career where in-person human interaction is vital (for me as much as for the clients), the thought of only seeing clients through a video conferencing portal was less than ideal. I had to dig deep to overcome my own resistance to putting technology to use in a field where relationships are key. I then had to learn how it worked and do so competently so as not to negatively impact my clients’ experience.

Interestingly, existing clients who already had familiarity with video conferencing saw it as a good alternative to not losing the continuity or momentum of their case. (In other words, their learning curve was much less steep than mine!) However, clients who have either been unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with using electronic alternatives, or who simply still prefer in-person meetings, continued to reschedule their sessions until we can be together in the same room.

My message is this: The new unfamiliarity of virtually every aspect of our lives, from how we go to work (if we go to work), how we meet our basic needs (face masks at grocery stores), creating our own entertainment (and home-cooked meals) and maintaining social connections (real phone calls) must also extend to how we utilize professional services in a way that is “good enough” when the ideal is not available. We are already getting used to this with TeleHealth virtual medical appointments, “no contact” home repair service providers, and curbside pickup from retail outlets and restaurants. Ideal? No. Good enough? Definitely.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Patience and fortitude conquer all things.” Indeed. However, when patience wears thin, I encourage you to have the fortitude to explore ways to obtain professional guidance with potential marital and family transitions when meeting in person may not be an option.

Felicia Soleil is a divorce mediator and family law attorney located in Gig Harbor. She helps her clients in achieving resolutions that foster both a compassionate ending to their union and a healthy new beginning for them and their families so they can focus on moving on, rather than simply moving out. Felicia can be reached at 253.853.6940. All consultations are strictly confidential. Video conferencing is welcome.

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