When couples decide that they want a divorce they almost always enter the divorce mediation process with preconceived notions of how to best defend against and attack their spouse.

It does not matter whether the issue is child support; retirement benefits; parenting plans and access schedules or the marital home, the objective of each party starting out is to win as much as possible.

As seasoned divorce mediators we sometimes see clearly defined intricate plan and sometimes the plan is simple and to the point in that one party digs in and says “No” to everything.

We hear a lot nowadays about The Art of the Deal. It is true that multi million dollar real estate deals and international corporate mergers and acquisitions require a slightly different approach than a divorce. However, there is no space in the divorce mediation forum to handle the dissolution of a marriage as if it were two skyscrapers battling it out on the sidewalks of Wall Street.

And yet, what is one to think and feel if you are not valiantly fighting for what you believe is rightfully yours?

My thoughts are drawn to The Wizard of Oz. The particular scene is when the wicked witch rides her broom across the sky and writes in the scary gray smoke of her exhaust, SURRENDER DOROTHY.

To me that was the scariest part of the movie. The wicked evil antagonist of a witch was giving a chilling ultimatum that forbade unspoken pain and suffering for all who would disobey the warning. Surrender explicitly implied failure, disenfranchisement, banishment, prison, torture and death.

In the movie, as many Hollywood tales do, the down trodden heroes fought back and Dorothy bested the west witch and made it back home to Kansas, safe, sound and smarter.

I am here today to tell you that when one is sitting in a divorce mediation session there is nothing Hollywood about it. The emotional and physical toll that a divorce takes on a divorcing couple is brutal. And, when one or both of the parties are digging in their heals and taking a last stand, all of the oxygen gets sucked out of the room and rarely nothing productive comes forth.

I did not know that there was a strong, positive, responsible answer to the witches broom message, until I heard my yoga teacher say it during her dharma.



Actually the surrender is not to the witch, or to the abusive, or obnoxious unwavering person across from you in session. Rather, Surrender to the power that anchors you in negativity. Surrender to the posturing that drains you of energy and clarity as you struggle to listen and comprehend the opening road before you.

The act of surrender stimulates your truest feelings and your free will. By discarding the baggage of yesterday the weight of emotional explosives are deactivated. Your surrender permits you to accept your inner strength, foresight,and sense of respect and integrity in order to stand front and center for what is fair.

Simply put, those couples who have not been able to embrace the notion of surrender invariably end up in litigation with a judge making the final decisions in their very personal lives.

On the other hand, Surrender tastes pretty sweet when the power remains in your hands throughout the divorce mediation journey.

Come on…give it a try…start of small…surrender …to the beginning of Spring…It only gets better from here.

steven bettman