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The Winner Takes It All

16/05/2013 10:53 BST | Updated 16/07/2013 10:12 BST

The Winner takes it All. Or do they?

In interview with the Daily Mail this week, Agnetha Faltskog from ABBA has said that the massive hit, 'The Winner takes it All' was written about her break up from ex Abba member Bjorn Ulvaeus. Great hit. My experience of clients is that each person in the marriage feels that the other is the 'winner' who has 'taken it all.' That in essence, there are no winners.

What has been taken is not just financial, it is a feeling of taking life as it was known, friends, holidays, family set up, lifestyle - the list is endless. There are no winners, because each person feels diminished in some way. Even though it might seem from your own point of view, that you are the loser, that your ex now 'has it all', I can assure you that it may seem that way, but he or she doesn't. It might have been their idea to leave, or their affair that broke it, but unless your ex is some sort of psychopath, he or she will have feelings of guilt, of reproach, of sadness of losing daily contact with children, of loss of friends, of in-laws. When I was a family law barrister, before I qualified as a therapist, I was struck by how many clients whose cases I 'won' for them would come out of court and look depressed and dejected. I began to realise, that even if I got for the client exactly what he or she wanted, child-wise or finance wise, that it didn't seem to make them happy. In fact, it was for the clients, the dawning of a realisation that, despite ostensibly 'winning' in court, there was still deep loss to mourn and to process which no amount of validating court orders could overcome.

Having your children most of the time, or having no financial worries go some way to relieving the stress of those issues, but it does not go to the heart of what a person has to go through on separation; which is loss. I have yet to meet someone who says, 'I feel great, I've left my wife or husband.' Or 'I feel great, I have just been left by my partner.' Winning in Court is a pyrrhic victory. Winning the battle of emotion is what really counts. That is something entirely different and can be achieved with time, with help and with patience. 'The Winner takes it All' is a myth, born out of an idealised view that the other side has walked into the sunset with everything intact. This, in reality, almost never happens. Separation damages everyone, but in different ways. Once mourned, and once processed, you can have it all - a different 'all', but it is there to discover if you process the loss properly. Divorce is an end, but it is also a beginning.

Charlotte Friedman

http://www.divorcesupportgroup.co.uk/workshops/