Listening to the Chorus or to Yourself

Jul 2, 2021

In any life-changing experience, the support of friends and close family is not only important—it is cherished. This is especially true in divorce, when you are encountering the emotional upheaval of change, uncertainty, loss—there is so much to process!

This emotional support can serve as a strong foundation to reinforce your self-esteem and provide strength to withstand the challenges faced in creating a new beginning. This is all good, and those who have these resources are blessed.

I often encounter mediation clients whose well-meaning friends and family members cross an imaginary boundary between offering support and offering advice as to how you should proceed in your divorce settlement.

However, I often encounter mediation clients whose well-meaning friends and family members cross an imaginary boundary between offering support and offering advice as to how you should proceed in your divorce settlement.

Mediators encounter this dynamic situation frequently, and it is commonly referred to as the “Greek chorus.” One dictionary has a definition that reads:

“Greek chorus—a group of people who with persistence express especially similar views or feelings about a particular action or series of actions.”

It is one thing to offer support; it is entirely another matter when advice is being offered with a focus on what others have experienced and witnessed in their own lives. I am acutely aware of this distinction. I describe each divorce case I mediate as a “snowflake,” meaning that no two cases are alike. My clients are all different. And in any marriage that is ending, two individuals are involved, so each set of circumstances, while possibly similar in theme, is in fact unique.

Your divorce involves you—not your sister, not your friend, not your co-worker. While contemplating the decisions that will shape future plans, it’s important that the voices you hear be rooted in knowledge, whether it’s the expertise of an attorney, a financial advisor or a therapist. You can depend on these professionals not to base their input on their own divorce, but on the specifics of the circumstances facing you as an individual.

In divorce mediation, my goal is to encourage the one voice that, in my opinion, matters more and carries more weight than any other—that is your voice. You as my client are the only person who will be living in the future with the decisions being made now.