Reading about the latest health news, I was struck by the glut of headline themes pointing out our collective poor behavioural choices we make on a daily basis: The Truth about Sugar! The Overemphasis on Protein Consumption! In a Bad Mood? Your social networks might be to blame! Fighting Obesity Yes, we need to look at how we make choices and they affect our lifestyles and our health. Alongside the reports of food research, conflict and the struggles for peaceful coexistence shown on the newsreels, we deplete our caches of joy, happiness, and sense of fulfillment. Add this news to the personal tragedies we face in our daily lives, it can be quite overwhelming. Shore up the good Do we realize the great strides we’ve made, the incremental accomplishments of our children? The interesting fridge art, the new skills, a full sentence? The joyful bits like putting together an amazing meal that everyone at the table enjoyed with gusto and kudos to the chef? Presenting a solid report to the board which lead to corporate change just as you imagined? The marriage may be over and the partnership may not make it to the end of the spring. Can you take away some of life’s lessons from the relationship? Were there some things you learned about yourself? Can you recall why you were attracted to this person in the first place? The enduring sweet spots The first meeting with a family law lawyer can be uncomfortable for a new client. There are usually tears and the odd smile. Silence and moments of thoughtfulness. The client who comes well prepared with internet research and lists takes pause when asked about their relationship. Recounting of what went wrong usually is at the top of the list. The pain and the hurt. When the question turns to ‘were there any good times?’ another pause. More silence. The really good birthday present delivered on the correct day? A celebratory trip together? The shoulders drop and often there’s calmness. The story telling changes in tone. The client who knows they need to learn how to move forward also holds dear the sweet spots from the past. Tim Lott, a columnist jotted down his list of ‘Ten things I know about marriage’ This should have been #1: 10. Remember what you like about your partner You may from time to time notice a peculiar phenomenon whereby other people react positively and affectionately to your wife or husband. They appear to genuinely like them, whereas you just find them irritating. This may be because they are actually nice and interesting people. You just forgot. On the other side of the spectrum, David H. Olson, researcher found that the Top Ten Strengths of Happy Marriages gleaned from a survey of 21,501 married couples in the USA, that creativity in handling differences, and discuss their problems well are among their strengths. In the introduction to her blog ‘35 Things I’ve learned in 35 years of Marriage’ Winifred M. Reilly offered this short exchange with her readers: This week, we will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Does that mean we discovered the “secret”? Hardly. Have we learned something? Definitely! The Bottom Line As a family law lawyer, I will advocate hard for my client’s best interests. Know that in Ontario, separation is about people and money. On the people side there is a lot of emotion, history and fears of the unknown. It’s not a family law lawyer’s role to counsel their client on the shortcomings of the other spouse or to rule on who should have apologized first on a ten year old dispute. It’s true: it does take time to heal. Betrayals can haunt over a lifetime. Interestingly, my clients will dwell at length on the sweet spots and count their blessings for all the things they have now or learned over the history of the relationship. So the next they meet with me, they know that a reflection on the sweet spots will make the tough conversations a little easier.