November 19, 2015

What’s In a Quote?

Categories: Divorce

184659576-speech-bubbles-drawn-on-a-blackboard-gettyimagesQuotes are memorable. They are also witty, funny and sardonic. (There’s one for your Funk and Wagnall’s!) They always have at least a kernel of truth in them – and often the kernel is all you get.

Divorce quotes most often lampoon something – if not the institution of marriage, certainly poking fun of attorneys and their clients. They frequently betray the bad experience of the person offering up the quote. For instance, the relatively unknown, Jarod Kintz now lives in perpetuity for this quote: “Divorce is the second worst event in a person’s life. The worst event, of course, is marriage.”

There are not a lot of people who let their disdain carry them so far. In reality, a vast number of people who divorce remarry, some before the ink is even dry on their decree, so we see one bad experience does not spoil the pot. The jazz legend, Artie Shaw, was married eight times. When someone asked him about marriage he is reported to have replied,”Marriage! I can’t tell you a single thing about marriage. I can tell you a lot about divorce!”

On the other side, here is some wisdom from Wendy Liebman: “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage.” The space of one week is preposterously short, but it does serve to anchor the message that marriages must be worked at to succeed.

Similarly, the bromide, “Love is grand. Divorce is a hundred grand” has that kernel of truth, but is demonstrably untrue in the overwhelming number of cases. Morton Hunt made this observation, that would seem to have more than a kernel of truth in it: “Americans, who make more of marrying for love than any other people, also break up more of their marriages, but the figure reflects not so much the failure of love as the determination of people not to live without it.”

The most prolific quoter of quotes, Ann Onymous, gives us this gem: “ I try not to think of divorce as failing at marriage but rather winning at bitterness and resentment.” Joan Rivers, of course, made a living out of such sentiments; “Half of all marriages end in divorce – and then there are the really unhappy ones.”

That thought actually received support from an article in the very early days of Psychology Today. Setting out to find the secret of successful marriages, some researchers sought to interview people who were living in very long term marriages, the theory being that to have stayed together for so long, they must have found that elusive secret of success. They were stunned to find that a quite large number of people so situated actually were the most bitter of all. For some, what keeps them in a marriage has less to do with love than it does with fear of the unknown. For others, the culture they live in or the family values against divorce trap them in very unhappy lives.

The kernel of truth that emerges from the skewering of divorce lawyers is summarized by the unattributed quote, “Ninety-nine percent of all divorce lawyers give the rest of us a bad name.”

We obtain our frame of reference about lawyers from two primary sources. The first are our own personal experiences, and second is from literature and movies. In the first instance it probably says more about our choice of the lawyer we hire, and is always based on a pretty small sample. For the second, the dark seamy underside of life always provides greater entertainment than the healthy and successful resolution of legal matters does. I submit, despite the press, there are more success stories about divorce than there are horror tales. The lawyers only play a part in this drama – the skills and personalities of divorcing couples contribute will usually play the larger role.

Jean Kerr opined, “A lawyer is never entirely comfortable with a friendly divorce, anymore than a good mortician wants to finish his job and have the patient sit up on the table.” Now that is about as good an example of being sardonic as I can come up with.

To find out more about how to end up with positive quotes at the conclusion of a divorce, contact any collaborative professional to learn more.

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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