I once met with a very attractive couple. The guy was tall and broad shouldered and reminded me of Dudley Do Right. The woman was very attractive as well. They came in and we started discussing things. It quickly became clear that the woman was really the one “wearing the pants” so to speak, and in control of the marriage. The husband, despite his physical size, turned out to be very sensitive. Through most of the mediation, he had tears in his eyes and was obviously very unhappy.
I asked them what the most important issue was for them, or if it was different for each of them, I wanted to know as well. The wife said,
“Well, I really love my husband and I want him to be happy, so when he announced the other day that he was gay and wanted to move his gay lover into the house, I agreed because I wanted him to be happy.”
I then asked how they both felt about that. The husband said that he realized at this point in his life that he was in love with this other man. He wanted the wife to move out of the bedroom and his lover to move in. The wife would move downstairs into the basement. Surprisingly, the wife was fine with that.
They had two children, so I asked how they thought this was going to affect the children. The husband said that the children knew his lover and had a very good relationship with him. He felt it was going to be fine. The wife agreed that her husband’s lover was a lovely man, so she thought it might work out as well.
So we put together a Settlement Agreement. It was a little unusual but we worked it out. The Agreement was that the wife would move out of the house while the two men would occupy the house and kind of be “two dads” to the kids. Mom was going to see the children during the week on specific days and on the weekends. They came in and signed the Agreement and like most couples, I did not expect to hear from them again after we filed the Agreement.
Fast forward two years, I get a phone call from the husband, who explains that they have to modify the Agreement. His wife needs money now so they want to sell their house now instead of waiting until the kids finish high school, which was in the original agreement. He wanted to be able to take out some of the equity from the house and give her the money she needed to pay off her debt.
Well, everybody was fine with that except the wife’s new husband and the husband’s partner of 2 years. Since both “spouses” were influencing the former husband and wife, I realized that we were never going to get this settled until everybody came together. I invited all of them to come in at the same time. Surprisingly enough, the former wife, her new husband, the former husband, his partner and I sat together for two hours and modified the Agreement. When we were finished, everyone agreed to the modified terms. They were all very supportive of each other.
A lot of people looking at this situation would say, “There’s no way this is going to work.” But it actually worked beautifully and everybody left in great spirits. It was definitely an unconventional situation but the mediation process creates an environment where even the unconventional can result in a successful Agreement.
Is your Divorce unconventional? Try mediation!!
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