I recently had the honor of being asked to preview a new book on divorce by my good friend Joseph Shaub. Joe is both an attorney and a family therapist. He has worked extensively as a divorce mediator, Collaborative divorce attorney, and Collaborative Divorce Coach. I have enjoyed working with him on divorce cases, attending his lectures on various topics, and presenting with him.
The good news is that his book, Divorce (or Not) a guide, has just been published. I am ordering several copies to put in our firm’s lending library for our clients to borrow. The book is about conflict between intimate partners and relationships on the brink. The theme throughout the book is “It doesn’t have to be this hard!”
Joseph Shaub starts out discussing the nature of conflict and more specifically what has been learned about intimate conflict. The work of John Gottman in his “Love Lab” at the University of Washington is cited for the concept that conflict within a relationship is normal, but the real problems come when there is mutually escalating conflict. This escalation leads to the parties becoming emotionally overwhelmed, which when repeated over time can result in exhaustion and disengagement.
Next he outlines ways for couples in conflict to use therapy to deal with their conflict and ultimately decide whether they should divorce. He discusses several different types of marriage therapy and how they can help or not help. Joe explains why traditional couples therapy is the least successful type of therapy. Next he gives some background in attachment theory and talks about the role that plays in Emotionally Focused Therapy, a technique he believes is much better at helping couples in distress.
Finally, for couples who decide that they should move towards divorce, he outlines how using a Collaborative divorce process can help them get though it in a more peaceful and cooperative way. A traditional legal divorce process is very hard on the parties involved – what Joe calls “Turning Love into Hate”. In the end, he says legal divorce is all about loss. Then he talks about how to “Do It Right”. Using options like Mediation or Collaborative divorce help a couple cooperate to problem solve rather than fight. This allows them to find the best mutually satisfactory resolutions rather than depending on third parties to make decisions for them.
One of the things I enjoy most about Joe, and that is present throughout his book, is his warm sense of humor. While thoroughly researched and based on the latest scientific findings, the book is a much easier read due to his sense of humor and use of real life examples. Because I always like a good opening, I’ll leave you with the first sentence in the book: “‘Goddamn traffic,’ Dennis thinks to himself as he inches forward in the Arrivals lane at the airport.”