Friends then encouraged him to write a book on the topic. Soon
after it was published someone called his office to say she
was in the midst of a marital crisis and had found the book
In the 27 years he's been practising as an attorney he's developed
a sixth sense for "when a marriage is over and when not", he
says. "But I'll never tell clients they should get divorced
or not. People must discover their own realities and make their
"I'm not a therapist or counsellor but if
I notice people are confused I try to steer them in the right
" He will, for instance, try to calm an irate
client who's determined to get divorced and help the person
to think clearly. "If people are stressed and worried about
the future they don't have the energy to solve a problem.
|Gemi (left) and Ni are
equally at home in Alastair's office - and they're characters
in his book.
It helps to release stress when we sit down and chat and they
realise it's not unusual for a marriage to be in crisis but
that it's actually normal. It doesn't mean there's something
wrong with them." He also encourages clients to consult a marriage
counsellor or psychologist. "If they get insight into their
own situation and that of their partner it reduces their anxiety.
Even if they decide to go ahead with the divorce it could help
them to part amicably."
|A divorce may be the end of the
marriage but not the relationship, especially if there are kids.
"A successful divorce is where the couple still have a good
relationship with each other and with their kids. Chances of
achieving this improve if there is communication between the
spouses during the divorce process. If it's only his attorney
and her attorney talking to each other it could easily lead
to misunderstandings, mistrust and anxiety." Not all marriages
can be saved, especially if there's physical or emotional abuse.
But if you, like the uncertain client in Alastair's book, can't
decide whether to get divorced or not his advice is simple:
"Think again. And trust your instincts." Then you and your lawyer
needn't talk any further. * The Giant Puzzle - Finding and Fitting
the Pieces in Relationship Turmoil by Alastair van Huyssteen;
Stormberg Publishers 2005. R110