You Magazine - Page 2 of Article

MAIN PICTUE: Alastair van Huyssteen in his office. He's been happily married for 30 years and has four kids. LEFT: He's as proud of his recently published book as he is of his vintage 1958 Morris Minor.
They're like two castaways on an island. They don't know each other, have nothing in common and don't understand each other's language. But they're forced to live on the island together and look for food. One night they fall in love and live happily ever after. "Who knows what will happen if you both accept you're simply unable to cross this ocean. It could be the very catalyst both of you need to resolve your problems." Think of a lawyer as "a man in an overall", Alastair writes in his book. "It will be his responsibility to fix the legal problems, not yours." For our interview today he isn't' wearing overalls but black jeans and a pullover. This versatile lawyer is also a songwriter and singer who's made a CD and has performed at the Klein Karoo arts festival. One of his vintage cars, a 1958 Morris Minor, is parked outside his offices in a house in Bellville, north of Cape Town. The youngest vintage car is 40 years old. Why is he advising how to save marriages rather than helping to finalise the divorces? His wife, Janita, who has an honour's degree in psychology, encouraged him to look at marital problems from a different angle, he says. He won't divulge anything about his marriage and family life other than to say they have four kids, two dogs and two cats. Asked to write an article on divorce for a newspaper, he didn't feel like writing about the legal aspects. "I wanted to write about the emotional issues that interest me." He realised the article could also help to give his clients perspective and reworked it into a pamphlet.
honest with each other and
share their feelings there's a good chance they'll reignite the spark between them." An affair is one of the crises in a marriage which, like the empty-nest syndrome, interference by in-laws, work stress and alcohol- and drug-related problems can cause a couple to go through a "private divorce". While some couples are reconciled the same crises land others in the divorce court. If you're in the midst of a similar crisis the big question, he says, isn't "Should I get divorced?" Rather ask yourself, "Am I still married?" "It's not about the legal situation or a piece of paper; it's about the relationship and whether it fulfils your expectations of a marriage," he says. "If the answer is no, the next question is whether you'd marry your partner again and whether he'd marry you." People who want to get divorced often complain: "My partner has
changed." Most people change over time but perhaps your perception of your partner has changed too. "But even if your partner has really changed think of him as your original partner's identical twin and see if you can fall in love all over again with the twin who has a slightly different personality." When a couple stay together because of their kids they needn't be doomed to an unhappy marriage, he says.
Elretha Louw

Pictures: Jacques Stander
Six questions to ask before you get divorced
THE most important question isn't, "Should I get divorced?" Alastair says. Rather ask yourself:
Am I in the relationship I wish to have, using my own definition of such a relationship, or not?
Do I want to re-enter into an ongoing relationship with this person?
Can I re-enter into and remain in an ongoing relationship with this person?
Does this person want to re-enter into an ongoing relationship with me?
Can this person re-enter into an ongoing relationship with me?
Should I, for my own sake or the sake of another person or persons (for example my partner or the children), or because I have made a vow, or because I am prepared to carry on caring for my partner regardless of negative circumstance or for some other reason, remain in this relationship?
Consider each question calmly and carefully. Remember what may seem impossible today may be possible tomorrow.

This article was published in the You Magazine on June 2nd, 2005
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