This week I have an admission to make. I have an addiction. Every Wednesday and Thursday evening for the past 10 or so weeks I have rushed home and taken up a seat to avidly watch 30 or so girls have their hearts unceremoniously broken on the national TV show, ‘The Bachelor’. And it turns out here at Brisbane Family Law Centre I am not alone. In fact most of my office are equally addicted to this show. For the past few weeks we have all enjoyed a good bit of banter about our favorites on the show and particularly about Rosie Waterland’s recaps. However, last nights episode has turned us all upside down- so much so that my friend and colleague Sam Gray decided it was time to write it out….
So here it is, Sam’s guest blog on what it takes to be a Gentleman- in the real world.
I would like to believe that we live in the age of the re-incarnated gentleman. This theory was semi-blown out of the water last night on “The Bachelor.”
(Yes. I am a grown man who unashamedly watches The Bachelor. Please don’t let that make you question my credibility, moral standing or manhood. Keep reading.)
Before handing out the final rose at the rose ceremony elimination, Blake (the Bachelor) pulled Jess aside and asked her whether he was the man for her. Slow pauses and lots of blinking later Jess said that he was definitely the man for her. The Bachelor then crash tackles us all into the next scene by eliminating Jess. WHAT?
In the real world, we understand that reality television shows are edited to within an inch of their life. All magical editing aside, this seems to have been the Bachelor’s systematic approach to cutting Jess free:
- Take her aside during a cliff-hanger moment;
- Make it clear that in order for her to stay in the running for his love she has to change and profess her commitment to him;
- Have her do all of those things listed in point number 2; and then
- Dump her.
Surely there was a better way. Television ratings and special editing aside, surely that’s not how a gentleman ends a relationship.
Sometimes relationships don’t work. That’s okay. This is life, things change, as do people. The rate at which people move on from a relationship will obviously depend on the type of person that they are, the type of relationship they were in and how they were treated at the end of the relationship. In a practical sense, we have some control over the type of person that we are. We also have control of the way in which we treat our spouse/ex-spouse leading up to and following the end of a relationship. This is perhaps where our mate Blake could have tread a little lighter on Jess’ heart in last night’s episode.
As a family lawyer, I have spoken to many people who have been hurt by their spouse and also those who have hurt their spouse. When a relationship breaks down we tend to lose trust pretty quickly. We also tend to make some decisions that in hindsight, aren’t so glorious.
From a bloke’s point of view, here are a few tips that may assist (both men and women) following your separation:
1. Show some respect
This will be hard. No matter the who, what, when, why or how of your relationship breakdown you are still both human beings about to make big decisions in relation to the future of your children and/or your finances. If you are able to show some respect in the face of what is potentially a massive amount of hurt, your capacity to move through your resolution process should greatly increase. Your capacity to move on with your life should also sky-rocket. Respect.
2. Take some time
Slow down. This is a choice piece of advice that Clarissa has written on previously. Stop and think about your actions and your words. Shut down on social media for a while. If you receive a text message or an email – take some time. Slowing down and showing some respect (no matter how difficult either task may be) should put you in good stead for the future. Breathe in. Breathe out.
3. Hold some doors open
Take this one literally and figuratively. If you are meeting with your spouse and perhaps your lawyers, be courteous. Chances are your spouse is perhaps just as nervous, anxious or stressed as you may be at this time. If it’s possible, be the kind human being, hold the door open, do something unexpected. After all, you did spend a period of time together that wasn’t all bad. Fellas – be the gentleman despite how awkward that may make you feel. You run the risk of that being thrown back in your face. Either way, the door was held open.
4. Two ears, one mouth
Double the listening, ease up on the chatter. There is no better way to understand someone’s position or interests than to let them talk. But make sure you’re taking it all in. If your spouse is hurt they may have some nasty things to say to you and about you. Listen to those things – within reason – and then apply steps 1, 2 and 3. Listening is powerful and (incoming generalisation – sorry!) generally, men aren’t ace at it. Actively listen; even if it is just for the course of your dispute resolution process.
So gents, and ladies, the moral of my blog entry is this: don’t build your spouse up to cut them down almost 10 seconds later – particularly following separation. The hurt has happened; divorce/separation does not need to be more hurtful. Try your best to move forward in a respectful, thought through, door-held-opening while actively listening way. Be the gentleman/woman.
Sam Gray, Family Lawyer and all round nice bloke- A true Gentleman.