A few weeks ago a divorce mediation client was venting frustration in a private session about certain aspects of child support and co-parenting after divorce. She was convinced that her husband would be irresponsible with the money and spend more of it on himself than the kids. To prove her point she pointed out that he had a new iPhone, just a month after getting an Android phone.
I can remember the vitriol in her tone when she declared his guilt by phone association!
I asked her about the possibility that he got the phone for an important reason? That perhaps, his employer had given it to him? That it was a gift from someone? That he returned the previous phone for an even exchange?
She was sure that it represented his impulsive ways and his failure to put the kids first. She was becoming increasingly convinced that co-parenting after divorce with him was going to be a disaster.
I was curious. When I saw the husband next I casually observed that he had a new phone and found out how he came to have it.
Where Did That Phone Come From Anyway?
It turns out that the phone was indeed given to him by his employer at no cost to him.
The wife had been so dismissive of this possibility because she jumped to conclusions about his intentions. Simply, she did not give him the benefit of the doubt.
I knew that the wife and the husband were both good people with nothing but the best intentions for their children. Due to the hurt and pain caused over the years of their marriage they were blinded to this fact and assumed false intentions of one another. And as a result there was no trust to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship.
Co-Parenting After Divorce With HIM?
From my perspective there was great opportunity to build trust with this duo, at least as it related to the children.
The next time I met with the wife privately I filled her in. She had one of those I don’t know what to say and feel kind of foolish looks on her face.
The iPhone led to a wonderful discussion. She reflected on the possibility of assuming that the hurt from their marriage would lead him to behave in a manipulative and deceptive way with issues related to co-parenting and the children. She realized that there may be opportunity to build trust as a co-parenting partner even though there was no hope of rebuilding trust as a marriage partner.
What Steve Jobs and Co-Parenting After Divorce Have to Do With One Another
I love when something symbolic occurs in a mediation that can illustrate a point more effectively than I ever could.
Ever since this exchange I would pull out my iPhone whenever the wife was quick to react to her husband’s decision-making. I would take out my phone, place it on the table, point, and ask her to remember the iPhone story. She would pause, reflect, and begin to consider interpretations of her husband’s decisions that did not always involve devious intentions and evil plots.
As a result, she is beginning to build trust and give him the benefit of the doubt. She does not always agree with him, but she is beginning to accept that like her she wants what is best for their kids.
Do you think Steve Jobs predicted that the phone would help divorcees improve their co-parenting? I wonder if there’s an app for that?
What parts of your relationship do you need the iPhone reminder? What false assumptions are you making?
Comment below and share your experience with “iPhone moments.”