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Gale and Jack, The Resolution

[Click here for the first part of the story]

The next week I got a phone call from Jack.  “Hey, what gives?” he asked.  “How come I can’t talk to Gale and I have to talk to you?”
“I think you know that better than I do,” I replied.
“Well, look, what’s it going to take to get you and Gale to lay off?”
“I’m not ready to answer that question, Jack, because frankly, you don’t sound very serious.”

He didn’t say anything for a moment.  I waited.

“Mr. Supancic?”
“I’m serious.  I love Gale and I want to save our marriage.”
“You have one option.  Obey those restraining orders as if your life depended on it.  Get yourself a place to live indefinitely and settle it in your mind that you’re not moving back in with Gale next week or even next month.  And start sending her the support payments we called for in that Order to Show Cause.  Are you willing to do that?”
He took a deep breath. “Yes.”
“Then there’s something else you can do.”
“What’s that?”
“You can get into a treatment program.”

Jack argued that he didn’t need a treatment program, he could go cold turkey, Gale loved him, he didn’t have anything to prove. I was straightforward with him.

“You said you wanted to save your marriage. Gale’s convinced nothing can change you or your behavior.  The only chance you have of regaining her trust is to face yourself sternly and unflinchingly.  Half measures will accomplish nothing. You’ve spent two years destroying whatever trust and admiration Gale once had for you.  The burden of proof is squarely on you and it’s a big burden.”

Six months later Gale called and asked me to have the restraining orders lifted.  I explained to her that that wasn’t necessary and it would be wiser to leave them in place.  I told her she could readmit Jack into her life without violating them, but if the experiment flopped, the orders would still be there to fall back on. But Jack had been clean and sober for six months, they were in counseling, and she was ready to have the orders lifted.

You can imagine my joy when I saw them together a year later.  They were happy, healthy, and on sound footing.  They followed through, got professional help, saved their marriage and saved themselves.

Gale and Jack

If you’re contemplating divorce and you answer most of these questions affirmatively, you need to take a good hard look at yourself.  It may be time to admit that you’re partner isn’t the problem, and divorce won’t solve anything.  It will only add to your problems and if you have kids, the divorce could do them irreparable harm.  Find a good therapist, start couples counseling, and refocus your energy on what you can do to save your marriage.

Suppose, on the other hand, that the answers to those questions are not so positive.  Gale was the mother of an infant child.  She and Jack had been married less than two years.  In those two years he had gotten heavily into drugs, and for the last year he had been dealing.  When Jack got high, he got physically abusive to Gale.  When I met her, she still carried the traces of her most recent black eye.

“I’m really involved in my faith and my church,” she explained to me.  “So, I’m not eager to be divorced.  But my pastor told me I should come and talk to you.  What can I do?”

The law can help a person like Gale get some leverage with her husband.  A judge could, on proper request, make an order that would give her immediate, temporary relief by imposing emergency restraints on Jack.  Jack would have to appear in court to explain his conduct.  He would have to comply with the temporary restraining orders and he could be ordered to begin paying Gale support money.  Those restraining orders would tell him he was not allowed to live in or even come to the front door of her apartment.  They would tell him he couldn’t harass Gale in any way, in person, by phone or by email.

I sat and explained all of that to Gale.  Then I continued, “If he disobeys any of those temporary restraining orders, he faces the possibility of arrest and imprisonment for contempt of court.  And he’ll also have to show cause why he shouldn’t have to pay for my services to you and for the court’s costs.”

“No kidding?”
“Not one bit.  Women across the country are faced with the same predicament you’re in. And, if they’ve got the courage to stand up to their husbands, the courts are ready to stand with them.”

I had known, almost from the moment she walked into my office, that Gale was not a woman who was used to being a victim.  She had not come to me looking for safety and she didn’t have any sentimental notions that Jack was going to change because of his love for her.  Instead, her agenda was entirely straightforward: She wanted to stop getting beat up and she wanted to help her husband make a change if that were possible.

Gale signed the requisite documents then and there.  I took them to the court the next morning and they were served on Jack that afternoon at his job.  Gale had his bags packed and waiting for him that evening.  A sheriff’s deputy stood by while Jack picked them up.  Then he was gone.

Read the rest of the story here…