From time to time, I use humor to help clients through particularly rough patches in their divorces, to help them (and me) keep perspective, and even to negotiate settlements.
My clients understand that the humor isn’t intended to make light of what they’re going through. Quite the contrary, it acknowledges how miserable divorce can be… and how important it is to get some relief from it.
And quite often, a little silliness does in fact help!
Years after I cracked my first courthouse joke to calm a client nervously awaiting a court proceeding, I learned of psychoneuroimmunological research that explained how laughter can reduce stress and even boost the immune system.1 In light of my own experience, nothing about that research surprised me—except possibly that psychoneuroimmunological is actually a word.
More recently, while working on a how-to-divorce book, I decided to put dopey multiple choice quizzes at the end of each chapter to reinforce the chapters’ key concepts, and hopefully to induce some stress-reducing laughter. I’ve reproduced some of those questions here in the hope that they might offer you a little break from the stresses of your divorce. And who knows, you might even learn something useful!
1. The best referral source for local divorce lawyers is:
A. Your divorced Uncle Billy’s website, StrangleShyster.com
B. Your divorced Aunt Gladys’s website, StrangleBilly.com
C. A Yellow Pages law firm display ad with a large enough headshots to be able to tell if the lawyers really will “fight for your rights!”
D. A local lawyer who can tell you which lawyers command the respect of the matrimonial bench and bar
2. Modern courthouses have the following in common with castles in Merry Olde England where our justice system originated:
A. Guards at the entrance
B. Trial by ordeal
C. Trial by battle
D. Scary black-robed figures who decide people’s fates
E. All of the above
3. The term “interest and penalties” is:
A. The title you’d use if you wrote the story of your marriage
B. How IRS makes us pay for failing to grasp regulations like the alimony recapture rules, which only some accountants and a handful of lawyers understand
C. Incentives for timely payment that support recipients sometimes seek to include in their settlement agreements
D. All of the above
4. Alimony, but not child support, is taxable to the recipient and deductible by the obligor because:
A. IRS is always making up confusing regulations containing penalty and interest provisions to punish us for getting confused
B. Some Congressman thought it would be cool to get a tax deduction for his alimony payments
C. Some divorcing fat cat reminded Congress that the Constitution guarantees fat cats any tax breaks they want
D. Child support, unlike alimony, is considered an absolute obligation and thus is not appropriate for tax incentives
5. Pro Bono is:
A. A U-2 tribute band
B. Cher’s PGA golfer daughter or son
D. A Latin term used by lawyers to denote the providing of free legal services
6. “Present value” is
A. The money you made scalping the opera tickets your Aunt Eunice gave you for Christmas
B. What the Buddhist guy at work says he gets out of meditation
C. The amount in today’s dollars that represents a stream of pension benefit payments in the future
7. You can conquer your fear of courts and judges (“black robe anxiety”) by:
A. Embracing the tiger
B. Taking the tiger by the tail
C. Getting trashed at a karaoke bar and singing “Eye of the Tiger”
D. Getting over this thing you have about tigers, and visiting a local courthouse prior to your court hearing
Whether or not you feel like chuckling during this very unfunny phase of your life, remember to take breaks from your divorce. Catch a movie, go on a hike, drop in on a yoga class or meditation group, or even YouTube your favorite funny TV scenes or Too Cute pet clips—whatever it takes to get the relaxation you need to stay in balance.
You owe that to yourself and to those around you—most especially the little ones who are depending upon you to remain steady in the storm.
Learn more skills for successfully navigating your divorce
in Larry Sarezky’s new book DIVORCE, SIMPLY STATED
available at amazon.com.