As you may have noticed, keeping perspective during divorce can be a challenge. So, over the years I’ve sometimes used humor to help clients meet that challenge. The silliness isn’t intended to make light of divorce’s miseries; to the contrary, it’s meant to ease them. And quite often, it works!
Years after I first tried to calm an anxious client with dopey jokes, I read about psychoneuroimmunological research (yes, that’s a real thing!) suggesting that laughter can foster health by reducing stress, and may even boost the immune system. With that in mind, my how-to divorce book has multiple-choice questions at the end of each chapter that include several dopey answers along with the correct one. The questions are designed to reinforce important concepts… and to produce equally important laughs.
Try answering the 10-question quiz below. If it lightens your mood a bit, consider hunting up some more laughs by finding a few of your favorite funny TV or film scenes on-line. Save them up to watch on one of those days. It’ll be good for you in more ways than one!
1. The term “intellectual property” means
A. A house with a Smart Car in the driveway
B. What they gave out the day your spouse’s lawyer must have called in sick
C. An elitist egghead hang-out such as a museum, library, opera hall or Starbucks
D. The product of a creative or intellectual endeavor that has value or income producing potential
2. One of the best places to find a good divorce lawyer is:
A. A Yellow Pages display ad with a large enough headshot to tell if the lawyer really will fight for your rights!
B. Your divorced Uncle Billy’s website, StrangleShyster.com
C. Your divorced Aunt Gladys’s website, StrangleBilly.com
D. A local attorney or other divorce professional who knows which divorce lawyers have earned the respect of their colleagues and family court judges
3. “Present value” is
A. What you made on Stub Hub selling the opera tickets your Aunt Eunice gave you for Christmas
B. What the Buddhist guy at work says he gets out of meditating
C. The value in today’s dollars of future monthly pension benefits, calculated to enable an “apples to apples” comparison of the pension’s value with property that can be split up now
4. Alimony, but not child support, is deductible by the payer because:
A. Some Senator whined so much about paying alimony that Congress created an alimony tax deduction just to shut him up
B. A divorcing big shot political contributor reminded her Congressman that the Constitution guarantees tax breaks to big shot political contributors for anything they want
C. Child support, unlike alimony, is considered a parent’s obligation and thus need not be encouraged with tax deductions
5. “Interest and penalties” can be used as:
A. A way for IRS to punish us for not understanding divorce tax rules that only some accountants and a handful of lawyers, actually do understand
B. A timeline of the decline of your marriage
C. Incentives in a separation agreement to encourage timely payment of support
6. The Latin term pro bono signifies:
A. A U-2 tribute band
B. A Latin term lawyers use to try to confuse laymen
C. A Latin term lawyers use to try to hide the fact that other lawyers provide free legal services
7. You can conquer “black robe anxiety” (fear of courts and judges) by:
A. Embracing the tiger
B. Taking the tiger by the tail
C. Getting trashed at a karaoke bar and belting out “Eye of the Tiger”
D. Getting over your tiger obsession, and going to the local courthouse to familiarize yourself with court proceedings to help you prepare for your own big day in the Judicial Funhouse
8. When visiting your local courthouse, you can tell you’re watching a lawyer cross-examine a witness when:
A. The lawyer is more obnoxious than any of the Real Housewives of New Jersey-with the possible exception of Teresa
B. The witness starts speaking in tongues
C. The witness doesn’t recognize his own signature on his own tax return, and asks if he can take a nap
D. The lawyer asks mostly “leading questions,” which allows the lawyer to do most of the testifying by simply asking the witness to agree or disagree with the fact or conclusion contained in the question itself
9. Modern courthouses have the following in common with the castles in Merry Olde England where our judicial system originated:
A. Not so merry black-robed figures who sit on high, deciding people’s fates
B. Even less merry guards at the entrance
C. “Trials by ordeal”
D. All of the above
10. The legal term “pendente lite” is Latin for:
A. “Cheap necklace”
B. An ornament for your Pendente Holiday Tree
C. A beer popular among courthouse clerks
D. “Pending the litigation,” a term used to designate requests and court orders entered on a temporary basis in a family court case
Even if you don’t feel like chuckling during your very unfunny divorce, try at least to take breaks from it. Drop in on a yoga class or meditation group, catch a movie, take a hike, or just stay home and watch your favorite Too Cute pet clips.
You owe that to yourself and to those around you-most especially the little ones who are depending on you to remain steady through the storm.
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