Written By: Lisa Fantone

This blog is solely the opinion of the writer and not necessarily that of the staff or firm of Zoller Biacsi Co., LPA.

Have you ever tried to make somebody do something?

My aunt, when my kids were really little, once told me, “Pick your battles.” In other words, don’t make everything into a fight. Choose that which is important enough to enforce, and then let other things slide.

For instance, I didn’t allow a whole lot of television when the kids were small. I preferred Baby Einstein videos, but I couldn’t stand Teletubbies on PBS. So, I kept TV viewing to a minimum, playing videos when I needed a shower desperately and couldn’t play or read with them. But at my aunt’s home, the kids were allowed to watch at will. I learned that I could control what I did in my home, but not so much in hers. And the children survived.

As they have gotten older, the areas of concern have changed, but I keep in mind my aunt’s advice. At my home, Mass on Sunday morning is a priority, but Wi-Fi shut off times are negotiable. Schoolwork needs to be done, but I do not check ProgressBook and nag about missing assignments. Dad’s home is not mine, though, and Mass is not attended with any regularity, but ProgressBook is, I’m sure, bookmarked and analyzed each day. The divorce allowed us to do things differently. And in all honesty, that really is OK.

Some couples navigate the divorce path more smoothly than others, some fight loudly through the entire process. Some understand that flexibility works both ways, while others are rigid and give little or nothing at all.

Getting back to the original question, then, have you ever tried to make somebody do something? How successful was it? If it did indeed work, that getting someone to do something they did not want to do, were they happy while doing it?

Bitter fights over children and material possessions often deteriorate into personal attacks on character and accusations of serious misconduct. As a law firm, we are called to “make” the other side cooperate or behave in an appropriate way; we are asked to somehow control the other person’s actions. In rare instances, with the proper court documents, we can issue restraining orders, but in normal everyday life, we can’t really “make” other people cooperate. Sometimes, opposing sides are simply irrational.

Learning to give a little and to cooperate goes a long way. Learning to ask for what is needed, rather than demanding, can also help tense situations. Learning to listen first and answer after can benefit everyone.

But, maybe if these things had been practiced during the marriage, you might not be getting divorced.