Mr. Kessler writes about divorce and “the need to be heard”

The December holiday season can emphasize the feeling of being underwater in relationships.

As a divorce lawyer, I find that holiday time is always a mixed blessing. Personally, I enjoy the fact that most courts take time off (so there are few trials) and most clients try to get along or at least to get through December with minimal confrontation.

The flip side is that the cases that erupt, especially during the holidays, are often the most contentious of the year. And that makes sense. If two people have so much anger or divisiveness this time of year, you know the issues are deep and difficult.

So what can we all do? Not just the lawyers, but our staff and our clients’ families, friends and support systems? Be patient and listen.

Perhaps it sounds naive, but I am of the opinion that most people going through a divorce or another family law hardship have a strong need to be heard and understood. Their pain may be deep and may never have been disclosed until now, and they need it to be heard. That is part of the catharsis.

So when our friends, our family members, our patients, our clients need to vent, let them. Then let’s all take a breath.

Sometimes there is no answer. There are deep-seated frustrations that may just need to be aired to someone, sometimes to anyone who will listen.

And if you don’t have the answers, that’s OK. If you want resources, they are everywhere. There are lawyers willing to consult, Internet sites, books, etc.

But sometimes “I don’t know” is an acceptable reply. It may even make the person feel better that someone he or she trusts, like you, doesn’t have all the answers. Divorce and family law matters are difficult. But having someone to share them with can make all the difference.

So if someone you know is going through such a situation, maybe just listen and help that person learn to simply take a breath.