ben goldfarb 88.
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One more signature and the divorce would be final. They had tried everything to stay together. Marriage counselors, gurus, and even low fat yogurt. Nothing seemed to put an end to their non-stop fighting and threats.
So instead of celebrating their 20th anniversary in Las Vegas, hitting the casinos and getting a tan by the pool, Jamie and Ronald were waiting in court to get the world's fastest divorce.
Judge Walter Sanders, who was decked out in full legal regalia, wasn't a big talker. He just wanted to make sure both parties wanted a divorce before he filled out the paperwork, collected his fee, and went on to dissolve the next marriage.
Shortly after their preliminary discussion, Judge Sanders excused himself to get something from the next room. Seconds after he left, Geraldine, the gardener, came into the office to water the plants.
Geraldine was tall, athletic, and had a kind face with a knowing smile. She asked the couple if they minded if she went about her work. They agreed with a shrug, avoiding any eye contact with her.
Geraldine watered a few plants and then asked the couple, "Would you say y'all have 5 or 6 basic arguments?"
"Excuse me?" Ronald asked.
"You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I'm just curious," Geraldine said.
Jamie answered, "I guess we have 5 arguments."
Ronald countered, "I'd say more like 15 or 16 different ones a day."
"Whatever," Jamie said, as she raised her eyes to the ceiling and groaned.
Geraldine continued her work in silence.
"Why do you want to know?" Ronald asked.
"No reason, really. I was just curious," Geraldine said.
"Come on, you must have had a reason to ask us," Jamie said.
"I've seen a lot of couples come through here. I listen closely, and notice that their fights usually boil down to the same 5 or 6 arguments," the gardener observed.
"Yeah, so?" Ron asked.
"So it breaks my heart when couples split up when they don't have to, " Geraldine said.
"This is really none of your business, " Ronald said.
"I know. That's why I shut up," Geraldine said.
"But you started this whole thing," Jamie said.
"Yeah, I know. I'm just nosey. Sorry," Geraldine answered.
"Well, as long as you are prying into our personal life, I'll pry into yours," Ronald said.
"Pry away," Geraldine offered.
"You married?" Ron asked
"Yes, for the second time. My first marriage ended after a few months. His decision. The second marriage is heading into its 20th year," Geraldine said.
"Just like us...well, what would have been us," Jamie said, with a tinge of sadness in her voice.
"Both marriages involved, and do involve, the same 5 or 6 arguments," Geraldine said.
"Really?" Ronald asked.
"Hubby number one didn't want to stick around to resolve our differences, so I didn't even put up a fight," Geraldine said with no hint of regret in her voice.
"What about husband number two? How do you deal with the fighting?" Jamie asked.
"Usually with humor," Geraldine answered.
"Can you give us an example?" Ronald asked.
"Well, when he starts argument number 5, I respond with my defense for argument 3, and we just start laughing," Geraldine explained.
"That's it?" Jamie asked.
"Well, there's more to it than that. But once we understood we have the same arguments over and over, we wrote out the solutions on paper," Geraldine said. "When the argument breaks out, we just calmly hand over the appropriate slip of paper to the other."
"You make it sound so simple," Ron said.
"Y'all make it sound so hard," Geraldine countered.
"Anyway, I'll get back to work. If y'all ever want to talk, give me a call. The Judge has my number. I get calls from couples all the time," Geraldine explained.
"I thought you were a gardener?" Jamie asked.
"Yes, I am. I am involved with growth and development. I pick weeks when I have to, but I almost never uproot what's been planted. Here comes the judge. Gotta run," Geraldine said, and then she left the Judge's chamber.
"You have to sign some documents now," the Judge said upon his return.
"No we don't," Ronald announced.
"What? You've been wanting this divorce for years. Now you are backing out?" Jamie asked.
"Yes, and so are you. Let's go celebrate our anniversary," Ronald said.
"Really?" Jamie asked.
"Yes. Let's go. We can call Geraldine later and give her the good news," Ronald said.
"You can do as you wish, but I'm going to charge you the full fee plus a fine for processing all of this paperwork," the Judge said sternly.
"No problem. Just tell me what I owe you," Ronald said.
They settled with the judge and got Geraldine's number.
The couple left, and the Judge was left alone with the gardener. Jamie and Ronald ended up at Geraldine's home that evening for dinner and were surprised to find out the identity of her husband.
"Walter?" Geraldine asked.
"Yes, Geraldine," the Judge answered.
"I think you should increase my split from 40 to 50%," Geraldine said.
"Is this argument 3 or 5?" the judge asked.
"I don't care what number you give the argument, I want my 50%, and I want it now," Geraldine said.
"You drive a hard bargain," the Judge said.
"Tell me something I don't know," Geraldine said.
"Okay, you got your 50% sweetheart. I'll put it in writing tonight," the Judge said.
"I knew you'd see it my way, honey," Geraldine said, kissing her husband lightly on the cheek.
Ben Goldfarb was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Israel in 1988. He is the founder and director of Paradigm Shift Communications. He has given seminars and training sessions at Israel Aircraft Industry and Philips Medical Systems. His book, "Take Two: Your Second Chance to Create the Life You Want" will be published next year. He lives with his wife and children in Jerusalem. For more information about his coaching practice, visit the Paradigm Shift Communications website, or send an email to email@example.com
Â© Copyright 2008 by Ben Goldfarb
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