• Alan Jacobs

I Confess - I Often Want to Hug My Clients

When new clients come through my door looking distraught, I must confess – –

I want to give them a hug.

When clients come for follow up meetings, I must confess – –

I want to give them a hug.

When the process is over, I must confess – –

I really want to give them a hug.

Yes, I want to give them a hug, but this is not something we usually do as professionals. I have to admit, however, that often I would like to reach out and hug them and say, “I know it hurts but you will see, it’s going to be all right.”

The moment I open my door, I can sense:

  • Sadness and anger

  • Fear and courage

  • Anxiety and decisiveness

A combination of some or all of these is often in the air.

Some people are impatient to get it all over with NOW, and some cannot even imagine taking the steps that will lead them to a place where they don’t want to be: “Separated” or “Divorced.” Some are not able to even say the “D” word, and yet, while a part of them may still hold a glimmer of hope, somehow they know that divorce is inevitable.

How do I work with a couple where all these different feelings are present? What is my role besides helping them work out issues such as parenting, child and spousal support, and division of their property?

I do my best to listen to them, understand them, empathize and support them while still being the professional that I need to be.

I try to keep them both within my frame of support so they know that I am there for both, but at times I do speak to one party and then to the other, but with the other one present. Is it easier to address both at once? Maybe, but sometimes one needs to address them individually.

Rest assured, I am not siding with anyone. I have no reason to side with anyone, and truly I don’t want to side with anyone. I am not here to judge, to condemn, or even to give advice. I am here to facilitate the dialogue between the parties. From my perspective, no one is right or wrong, they are just two human beings who were unable to make it work. Maybe they made mistakes in their struggles, maybe their mistakes offended the other party, maybe they were irresponsible for a moment? Who am I to judge?

Faced with one of the biggest transitions of their lives, I know that they may be struggling emotionally to keep afloat, and maintain their dignity while trying to separate. They know that they will have to accept that their marriage did not work out as they both had hoped when they said “I do.”

This is not an easy thing to accept, so for that, if for no other reason, I want to give them a hug.


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