Chapter 2: You and Control

Assessing Your Current State of Affairs

i-youandcontrolChapter 2 helps the reader identify important questions based on the Big Six, serving as a guide to evaluate whether you have control in all these factors in your relationship. Your answers will point to opportunities to maintain control in a positive way.

Chapter 2 Sample Excerpt:

“I think, I, uh, I…I don’t know what I think,” a well-dressed man in a pin-striped gray gabardine suit finally admitted.

“Well, Keith, you came to see me so that must mean you have concerns,” I said, affirmatively, sans any condescension.

“Well, yeah.” He stopped there, though I was hoping for more.

“Okay,” I knew the ball was strictly in my court. “So, you say-Lucy-is that right? Did you say your estranged wife’s name is…” before I could finish…

“Yes, Lucy.”

“And, how long have you been separated?”

“Well, actually…” His voice trailed off again. “Well, I moved out a while ago, but still go over there, to our house,” he pointed, index finger skyward in a northeasterly direction, like I would know where his house was.

For lack of anything better, and caught somewhat off guard, I replied, “Ah, I see…”

“Well I go back there like when she needs something.”

“When she needs something.” I said it without a question mark since I wanted to make it sound like our dialogue was actually going somewhere other than this conversational cul-de-sac.

“Yeah, like if she wants me to relieve the sitter, ya know, like if her tennis game runs over, or if she has to work late, or if she wants to go out with her friends.”

I hated to ask this next question for fear the answer would be what I thought it was going to be, but I asked it anyway. “How long…” I found it necessary to clear my throat, “how long have the two of you been separated, Keith?”

“About 14, 15 months.”

“Uh-huh. Anybody…uh, …Lucy…you…file for a legal separation or dissolu…” He butted in.

“No, Lucy thinks we should wait.”

“And you?”

“Well, that’s why I’m here. I do not know what to do and I’m kind of feeling like I have no control over the situation.”

If I had a bullhorn I would have jumped up on my desk like a crazed cheerleader and blurted, “And you don’t! You absolutely don’t! D-O-N-‘T Don’t!” but my professionalism stopped me. Instead I listened intently (a prerequisite to being really good at this practice of law) while he told me how he hoped if he went “along with the program” she might change her mind; that they just might reconcile.

I felt genuinely sorry for the guy. By all outward appearances he looked like he had everything going for him. He was an Internist, and not just any Internist, but one of the top doctors in Southern California, one those patients would travel to see him from as far away as India and China. This high-profile doctor was making $1,000,000 a year, had a medical degree from Harvard and had done his residency at New York’s prestigious Mount Sinai Hospital. He had won countless awards for charitable works and had built a thriving medical practice in Beverly Hills. This dignified mid-40’s father of three was not only intelligent and very nice looking, but he dressed well, looked fit, and had a very pleasing personality. No wonder he had such a fine reputation, his manner radiated patience and understanding.

After talking to him for about 90 minutes I realized that these very qualities were what had gotten him into trouble with Lucy. He considered her feelings first and foremost-foregoing his own wants and needs. He was clearly out of (his own) control. There was no balance in their relationship.

As we talked further, I learned that the two still had a joint checking account and that Keith had not changed much in the way of their routine when they were living together. He still handed over a hefty amount every month-his entire pay check-to replenish that joint checking account from which she paid the mortgage, the household expenses and the sitter-not to mention whatever else she wanted. When I asked if he had receipts from these expenditures he said, “No.” When I asked why it was they had such an arrangement, he lowered his head and without looking up said, “Well, Lucy lets me see the kids pretty much whenever I want to.”

When he told me how often that was-usually every other weekend (Friday night to Sunday night), one night (really dinner) during the week, sometimes two dinners-I explained that that is what the court would generally order-at the bare minimum.

The Doctor-Husband-Father did admit that he hoped they would reconcile at first, but after six months he had come to the realization that Lucy showed no signs-no interest, in fact-of even discussing it. Though he tried several times to coax her into joint counseling, she refused. As hard as it was for him, he confided that he knew it was time to do something more “formal” about the situation.