In light of the recently passed Independence Day, it is important for us to take a step back and think about what exactly independence is and what it means to be independent. Independence is not the capacity to do whatever we want whenever we feel like it, for that would mean we are free to commit crimes. If you look at the word itself, independence is the opposite of dependence; it is the freedom from the control of another. Dependence is sometimes necessary; a child is dependent on his or her parent for food and shelter. However, dependence, especially emotional dependence, can also be dangerous. On July 4, 1776, the United States signed a Declaration of Independence, which acknowledged the unhealthy and dominating relationship between Britain and itself. The United States realized that its tie to Britain was unhealthy and, rather than remain trapped in what it was used to, the United States announced that it would no longer be dependent on the will of its colonizer.
This Independence Day, and all days moving forward, take time to look at your relationship with others. If your relationships are predicated on mutual respect, honesty, and care, then they are most likely healthy relationships. If you realize that you have been dependent on another because he or she is what is “comfortable” and are unhappy or there is mistreatment or abuse, it is important to consider that your relationship may be unhealthy. All too often we willingly remain dependent on those who mistreat us out of fear; fear of being alone, fear of further mistreatment, or a certain fear that we cannot quite place a finger on. Although this dependence may feel comfortable or familiar, we should consider approaching this obstacle in the manner our forefathers did to secure our country’s liberty and values: we must liberate ourselves from oppressive or unhealthy relationships for the good of our own well-being. The problem with an abusive or one-way relationship is that we become a tool for the well-being of another, whereas a healthy two-way relationship serves both parties equally. If there is no reciprocation of respect, then perhaps we are dependent on an unhealthy relationship.
We neither want nor deserve to be the tool only for the happiness of another, so we must strive to make sure our relationships are based on mutual respect rather than a one-way dependence on another. Seeking a healthy relationship or changing unhealthy ones can apply to friendships, parent-child relationships, sibling relationships as well as spousal relationships.
Divorce mediation seeks to sooth tensions on strained relationships by making sure both separating parties are equally acknowledged and addressed. This way, both individuals can help regain their independence as individuals while maintaining a mutually beneficial and respectful environment. Mediation is never about one party dominating another and making him or her dependent on other means, but two parties working together in a healthy, yet independent, fashion to secure the means to mutual happiness.
Disclaimer: The information obtained at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
Posted on July 7, 2014 by Justin Reyes and edited by Robyn D. Weisman, Esq.
Divorce Mediation & Family Services of New York