August 25, 2015

The Role of Integrity in Collaborative Divorce

The Role of Integrity in the Collaborative Divorce

Integrity is a concept not routinely addressed in the context of obtaining a divorce. It has only been more recently that collaborative law has begun to consider the concept of love as an important element of what we do. One of the reasons it took so long to have this conversation is the fact that love has several distinct aspects. Buddhism is one source of information about the aspects of love. Greek mythology, together with teachings in the bible is another source of these distinctions.

Buddhism references four elements of true love: The first of these is maitra. Translated as loving kindness, or benevolence, it goes beyond simply wanting to make the beloved happy to acquiring the ability to actually accomplish this. It requires being able to practice deep looking into the person that is loved, because it is essential to understand, because if you do not understand the beloved you cannot love. I like that. It gives a quality of worth that is not shallow, but genuine.

A second element of true love is karuna – which means compassion. Similar to maitra, compassion is much more than simply wanting to support the beloved, but means having the ability to actually do so. Knowledge and understanding are the essence of compassion, and understanding is the practice of meditation.
The third element of true love is mudita – which means joy. If there is no joy in love, it is not true love but only suffering. If you bring unhappiness and misery to the beloved you do them no favor, in fact you harm them.
The fourth element of true love is upeksha – which translates to freedom. True love brings a sense of freedom, not confinement, and this is distinguished both as internally and externally.

The interesting aspect of the Buddhist elements of love is that they all seem to focus on the relationship with others as the beloved. They do, in fact, extend to the greater community.

Aspects of love coming out of Greek mythology, also containing biblical references, include, first, storge love – which is familial love. This aspect of love is particularly vital to the functioning of families, and is essential to the foundation of growing into communities, which depend upon functioning family units.

The second aspect is eros, or erotic love. Erotic love is probably the most known aspect of love because it is so commonly the topic of art and literature. It is probably true that for some people entering wedlock it may be the only aspect of love of which they are aware. After all, love blinds.

The third aspect is philia love – a love between comrades, which may produce a bond that even eros and storge cannot match. Consider persons under great conflict, such as war, who must rely upon each other for basic survival.

The fourth aspect is agape love – the most supreme love of all that is an attribute of God and does not commonly come to humans.

These aspects of love are interesting, especially considering that divorce is the fracturing of but one aspect of love, eros. Perhaps this is why it has not seemed an appropriate consideration to discuss the greater concepts of love. Agape, or the Buddhist concept of loving kindness, probably comes closest to providing a foundation for this conversation.

The opposite of love is not hate, but rather fear, and fear is a heightened emotion in the realm of divorce. Worlds are collapsing, and uncertainty abounds. When we suffer the loss of affection from the beloved fear is the most common result.

Integrity and love are inseparable. Integrity contemplates something more than simply doing the right thing, though that is an important aspect. Integrity has more to do with making good choices, which includes having the intention of doing the right thing. What greater opportunity to practice good choices than in the face of fear and uncertainty?

The nature of the collaborative process is to support parties in participating in this difficult time coming from our highest functioning self. The process lends itself to making good choices in difficult times, which in turn contributes to reducing the dangerous and damaging consequences of divorce influenced by fear. It requires a real courage to challenge the frightened parts of ones self, and not react with anger. There is good merit in doing so. There are a growing number of people who are aware of benefits of participating in the divorce process from the highest functioning self.

To learn more about how collaborative family law can support those going through the challenge of divorce to do so at their highest functioning self, contact any collaborative professional.

Bruce Peck Collaborative Family Law Specialist

Bruce Peck

Bruce is one of the founding members of the Collaborative Law Institute.
Back in the Wonder Years, this small group was trying to figure out what a new way of practicing family law might look like. Today the collaborative law concept has exploded, not just throughout the United States, but also internationally. For over thirty years Bruce has continued to hone his skills to provide the highest quality of services to family law clients. He helps good people make tough choices during difficult times.

Bruce is a laid back and easy going person who listens well to others. He is a shameless optimist who can always see possibility and opportunity. Being very curious by nature, he is a voracious reader. His love for words has drawn him into being an avid poet.

Bruce’s skills supports clients interests without alienating their spouse. When the parties reach agreement, it is not under duress. They have the time to discuss all decisions with their attorneys before signing the agreement. Once completed, the stipulated divorce is filed with the court for a default hearing in which neither party, nor their attorneys, ever have to set foot inside a courthouse. Learn more at

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