So, I do not consider myself a movie buff (whatever that is…), but there are certain movies, shows, mini-series, etc., that is SO well done. Until much later, you may not even realize how amazing it is or the lessons you took from it, until much later. I know that “This Is Us” (an American TV series) is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have loved this series, and I am so saddened it is ending. Well… ended… last night. Full disclosure, I have not watched the final episode, but this blog is not about the final episode. This blog is about the train episode. How amazing that episode was…on many levels and for many reasons. There is talk that Miguel, Rebecca’s husband up until the end of his life (and the last husband she ever had), did not get enough of a “moment” on the train and that the doctor who birthed the Big Three (well, two…), got too many moments. I am not here to discuss how much time would have been appropriate for each character to say their goodbyes to Rebecca, but instead, to highlight something that I have NOT heard a lot of chatter about (and I am in a few of those dumb Facebook groups that discuss the show … I guess that shows my age…ugh).
When Rebecca sat at the bar talking to the doctor, he spoke about how much loss and tragedy she had in her life and how she barely made it through childbirth to see any of it (still not sure if the audience knew that…I don’t remember). And he says to her something along the lines of how she made a beautiful mess of it all. That line struck me so profoundly. In a time that the world only seems to cherish the lavish lifestyles of the uber-rich, I love that they focused on the fact that a simple life, made up of finding a fantastic partner to share it with (and sometimes finding more than one), and having children who you watch grow into amazing adults and find their way through their struggles (Kevin and alcoholism, Randall and panic attacks, Kate and her weight) is also an extraordinary life! That life made upon a foundation of a close family can be one of the most extraordinary lives of all.
I think deep down, we all acknowledge how important family is. Unfortunately, many of us do not have anything resembling the Pearson’s. If you watch the show, you know that it is not because they did not have their issues, fights, falling outs, etc. What made the Pearsons so special is that they never gave up trying to understand each other. They never made assumptions and walked away because they took those assumptions as facts. I see this all day, every day in my work. It is heartbreaking.
If I was forced to pick ONE SOLITARY reason that so many couples divorce and why we lack so many families resembling the Pearson’s, it would be lack of communication.
Communication. It is so simple yet the most challenging concept for humanity to comprehend. Within every relationship; marriages, parents and their children, siblings, opposing political parties, states, and countries. There is a failure to communicate on every level and in every relationship. The simple act of sharing and exchanging information.
Why is this concept so difficult to grasp? Perhaps it is because many people believe that simply TALKING is communicating. But that is not the case. It is the exchange. It is listening with an open mind to understand. It requires the willingness to break free from our deeply rooted biases and LEARN something new. I think the misconception or fear comes from the idea that you must AGREE with the new idea. You don’t. But you need to respect that there are other ideas out there that are likely as valid as yours.
Every single couple I work with has an entirely different perspective of the marriage they are coming to me to end. Read that again. I am not exaggerating. They are altogether different marriages… yet the same marriage. This is one of the reasons we like to begin our process with individual sessions. It is so important to understand each person’s perspective from an honest and open point of view. We do not get that honesty if they are trying to talk to us in FRONT of their spouse. We would never really know either persons perspective if we didn’t engage in the one-on-one sessions.
Contrary to some professionals’ belief, this does not create an imbalance in our process or create an environment that allows a mediator to “take sides.” First, a good mediator will not judge you, your spouse, or your situation. Marriage is one of the most complicated relationships in the world. Deciding to leave a marriage takes SO MUCH courage. With every couple, I think about how I would feel if I walked away from my own marriage, facing the reality of lost moments with my children and often the dismantling of an empire built over many years. The last thing my clients need is to be judged for making this tough decision.
Second, I know that every marriage takes two…it takes two to make it fantastic, and it takes two to neglect it and allow it to fall apart. I saw a quote the other day that I thought was so true: Divorce is 50/50 – Marriage is 100/100. Not many of us (myself included) can honestly say we give 100% to our marriage every single day. We are human, and we all do the best we can with 1 million other tasks and shiny objects pulling our attention away from our marriages daily. I KNOW I do not give my marriage 100%. I wish I did. I wish I knew how to. I still think of my marriage as a good marriage, one I am happy in. But, if I imagine giving it 100% and my husband also giving it 100%, what would THAT marriage look like! Well, that marriage would look something like Jack and Rebecca Pearson! Their love was intoxicating. They weren’t rich, they weren’t famous, but they had such a special love, and that love held up generations of offspring.
The one thread I can pull through the lives of this family and all others that were connected to them and through them is that they always kept communication open and flowing. They were still not perfect…no one is. But they always found their way back to each other because they were willing to make the phone call, take the trip, and have those hard conversations that end with sobbing. There was always forgiveness even after hurtful words were spoken (thinking of Kevin and Randall). So, if you can take one thing away from TIU and this blog… DON’T STOP TALKING!!!!! And above that… do NOT (and I mean EVER) stop LISTENING!
Need to schedule a free virtual consultation? Contact West Coast Family Mediation Center at (858) 736-2411 today.
by: Jennifer Segura