As a divorced divorce lawyer whose parents divorced when I was aged 8 it would be easy for me to admit that I am probably not the best person to advocate for marriage. My professional career is based on dissolving marriages, dividing up marital assets and dealing with the arrangements for children of separating parents. Whilst I always explore with a client whether their marriage can be saved and always recommend marriage counselling, regrettably by the time they are sat in my office it is very rare that there is a way back. It is a box ticking exercise in real terms.
Like a lot of people I tuned in to the BBC’s new TV drama “Marriage” with Sean Bean and Nicola Walker. I didn’t like “The Split” which Nicola Walker also starred in (despite most of my friends raving about it) as I couldn’t get past the fact it didn’t feel real or authentic from a professional perspective. It made me cringe and made me unhappy that viewers would think that divorce lawyers in real life would adopt some of the tactics used. Good ones don’t horse trade time with a child for financial gain (as Walker does in the opening episode of The Split). I binge watched the four episodes of Marriage back to back though and was left incredibly moved.
So many of the themes in this drama that are so mundanely and subtly raised are exactly the kind of issues that clients raise in their initial meetings with me. They feel unheard, downtrodden, oppressed, invalid, grief stricken, invisible and irrelevant. This drama picked up on all of this and was perfectly acted by both Bean and Walker. The lengthy awkward non verbal interactions really highlighting this couple’s inability to communicate and the drudgery of their day to day life. However, there were also moments of such compassion, care, tenderness and laughter between them. This series beautifully highlighted that marriage isn’t a picture box perfect creation that you would see on an Instagram post. Real life can be hard, it can be boring and it can be mundane. That life will throw some devastating things at you but it is how you cope and manage with those events together as a couple. Bean and Walker’s characters had lost a baby and later went on to adopt a daughter. It was clear they had supported each other through that process in their own ways but had never communicated about their individual grief and had never discussed this trauma with their daughter. In turn their lack of ability to communicate had undoubtedly left their daughter vulnerable to the wrong kind of controlling partner (something they identify but fail to really do anything about). Walker’s character could not communicate with her own father either and there was a theme throughout the series that she was surrounded by some very badly behaved male characters (her boss included).
What this wonderful four part-er reminded me of though is how important it is to remember when advising clients that there will be tough times, boring times and maybe betrayal but that there is also a plethora of things that marriage offers that single life cannot – companionship, care, support and ultimately love. It also reinforced the importance in all areas of our lives of communication. In our team meeting today, I am reminding my team of fee earners that we must remember that exploring saving a marriage and reconciliation must always be more than a tick box exercise wherever possible with a client and reminding them that it really is “good to talk”.
If you need any advice regarding the breakdown of your marriage please do not hesitate to contact us at Lux Family Law on 029 2019 7203 or email@example.com