Seeing Things Differently


This week I went in for cataract surgery. The next day when the bandages came off, it was quite amazing how everything looked different than what I was used to. Things are more brightly colored, they look a little closer, I can see great at a distance, but I need reading glasses for close up. Basically, I am having to learn a whole new way of seeing the world. I am seeing things differently.

Sometimes it is a good thing to step back and look at things through a different lens. Take divorce (some might say take it and don’t bring it back).  Often we look at divorce through a lens that sees it as a fight — as an ugly, bitter contest with the spouse as adversary. Through this lens, divorce is a win/lose proposition, where everything we are able to get for ourselves is at the expense of the other person, and everything they are able to get is something taken from us.

Imagine instead looking at divorce through a lens that sees divorce as a deal making process. Think of how two businesses go through the process of making a deal. Let’s say Company A wants Company B to be their paper supplier. In negotiating a deal do they approach each other as enemies, or as having certain interests in common? If they saw each other as enemies, it would be much harder to make a deal. Instead, they realize that they have to structure a deal that will work for both, that will leave both willing to say “this meets my goals sufficiently that I am willing to help them meet their goals”.

If we look at divorce as a process for structuring a deal that may not give either side everything they might want, but that is balanced in helping both meet their primary goals as much as possible, the negotiations take on a very different tone. Instead of acrimony and bitterness, it can be one of cooperation and mutual problem solving. It still may not be easy, but the results are more likely to be better tailored to the actual needs of both parties, and any future interactions are likely to be more amicable (especially important if there are children in common).