This Holiday Season, Let Go of the Salad Spinner

Hi there,

I was somewhat surprised a couple of weeks ago to be asked for an interview by the talented Globe writer, Cindy Atoji Keene. It was published on Sunday, and reading it made me realize just how important it is to be able to let go of that “salad spinner” and focus on what’s truly important in the end game in a divorce.

There’s a salad spinner in every case — it could be the cat, the couch, or whether the kids come to visit at 5:30 or 6:30 p.m. Imagine fighting over a stuffed parrot, horse semen, or geese. These were all expensive court battles that I was involved in, and it all comes down to control.

I like to call it the Salad Spinner War, after one of my first cases that involved a short-term marriage with a wealthy Brahmin gentleman and his younger wife from abroad. We came to a fair division of assets and property, and because I was young and stupid, I agreed to go to the house to help divvy up miscellaneous items. We went through the antiques, oriental rugs, lamps, and furniture, and then came to the kitchen, where they started arguing over a $15 salad spinner. They fought vehemently, and my client finally won, but when we left, she thrust the salad spinner at me and said, ‘I didn’t want the damn thing, anyway.’ But I love running into someone five to 10 years down the road and seeing them happy and moved on in life. – The Boston Globe

Everyone struggling through the divorce legal process is also trying to come to grips with the emotional process. And I suspect the emotional process is three steps forward and two back… The important thing is to maintain a sense of perspective.

Divorce isn’t the end of your life, it’s merely a part of it that you’re experiencing currently. It helps to be able to see what is actually an emotional issue or power struggle, and what is a genuine financial or child-related issue. That doesn’t mean ignore the nuances of the situation. It means to step back and try to understand larger picture, the emotional reasons for a visceral response. Good divorce lawyers get experienced at recognizing this, and this is why I recommend everyone undergoing a divorce get a therapist as well. Especially during the holiday season, let go of the trivial arguments and focus on what’s important.

May your holidays be happy and healthy!