Don't really know where this one came from. Read so many BTB stories of people actively doing stuff to their spouses when they discover infidelity. I wondered if you could have the same effect without all that heavy duty planning. I dunno if this works or not. You be the judge.
Edited by JonB1969.
I got home a bit later that night than I expected. There was a meeting I had to be a part of. I didn't really want to be there. The two people I was mediating with were both, frankly, not that nice. Both were more interested in putting as much hurt on the other person as they could. They weren't interested in resolving the situation, they were interested in damage. I could understand why. The whole situation was a disaster from a business point of view, but still, it was my job to find a happy medium, so that both sides could walk away, feeling like they got what they want.
That's almost impossible in situations where one or both sides were more interested in hurting the other side than resolve the situation, or, worse still, when it was the act of resolution itself that would actually be the hurting part. No one walks away from that situation feeling satisfied, I can tell you.
There have been more than one occasion where I've had to admit defeat and just tell both parties that at this point, the lawyers are going to have to get involved, because it's ONLY the hurting of the other person that is going to give the situation resolution.
At least in situations where both parties are trying to hurt each other out of blind rage and hurt, there is the chance that one or the other will come to their senses. And that's where I come in.
I guess it's customary to introduce yourself. I'm Mike Absalom. I'm a mediator – and a good one, if I may say so myself – for a company who is hired as arbitrators by legal firms. Most of the time our work is woven into contracts – if the contract breaks down, rather than running to lawyers, the two parties (or three, or even four sometimes) come to us. We sit down, try and understand the situation, what everyone wants, and try and come to an agreement. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
What we do isn't legally binding – we hammer out an agreement in spirit, rather than in law. Oh, sometimes what we do gets put into contract form, but mostly it's a way to get people to come together and find a solution for their problems. Less about the letter of the law, and more about the spirit of it, sort of thing.
So yeah, that's what I do. I have always done it in one form or another, and I have a particular way of working. I come from a large family – six kids; five boys and a girl. I was the second eldest and, it seemed, constantly mediating disagreements.
Mom was a single Mom – our Dad died two days after Benji, the youngest, was born. He was killed by a drink driver, crossing a road, after buying flowers for my Mom. She never really got over it, but buried herself in providing for us. She did the best she could, but the reality is that even with two parents, providing a roof, clothes, food and attention in equal measure for all six would be hard, let alone one parent. She did her thing, selling real estate, and we were what our generation called Latch Key Kids. We came home, made a snack, watched TV, irritated each other and some how, I always ended up mediating.
Mediation is an interesting career path. I didn't intend it to be a career choice – it just sort of happened. I originally worked for a plant on the shop floor, making metal widgets for all sorts of things – golf carts, ball point pens, you name it, if it had small metal bits in it, we made parts for it.
Long story short, I was the voice of reason on a number of issues, and when it was necessary, sorted it out. I have no idea why I was picked; perhaps I was the most reasonable.
So anyway, I was working at this metal shop place – a college thing while I was doing a course in Creative Writing – yeah, I've no idea what I was thinking, either – and there was a dispute between management and workers. Some of us were union – some were not. I wasn't, but somehow I wound up being the workers representative anyway. There was a union rep, and he showed up some of the time, but half the time that management wanted to talk to 'the workers', he was no where to be found. Part of me still believes they – the management – did it on purpose.
Anyway, I ended up talking a lot and while I think management was loaded for bear, we managed to work something out.
It happened again four months later – same kind of thing, some demand that we not have vacation in August because there was a big order coming in or something. Anyway, this time they brought in an arbitration company, who basically did the same thing I had done, only 'without bias', as management put it.
It didn't really matter. The arbitration company ended up talking to me and the union rep anyway, and then just passed it on to the management. All they really did was act as a middleman.
We got something sorted that avoided 'unpleasantness', as management put it, and everyone got something out of it. I know I did. I got a job offer from the arbitration company.
And so I changed my college major to business studies, with a minor in psychology, and went to work for them instead. It was certainly easier on my hands, that's for sure.
I graduated two years later, and have been a mediator ever since. And trust me, I've mediated some weird stuff. Movie companies and actor's agents, Car companies and their workers, lawyers who are partners, even a bunch of competitors in a surfing competition, and the company who organized it. I've even done more than a few marriages. I didn't try and be a marriage counselor; I figured those guys knew what they are doing – I just come in when all else has failed and we have to separate out the cd collection.
I have a particular methodology, though. It's what works for me, rather than anyone else. People respond when they see vulnerability and when they see honesty. So, when I mediate, I try and show people my vulnerability, and my honesty. I sit there, talk with both sides independently, to try and get a feel for who the people are, what they think is important and how they feel about the situation, what they want from it, what they think of the opposing side – basically I try and get a feel for both combatants.
I should point out that I've been chastised by the senior partners more than once for using that terminology, but it's how I start out viewing the clients, and it works for me. I just have to shut up about using the words!
From there, I can usually figure out a way to get each side thinking in terms of what the other person thinks is important. It may not be to them – or it maybe, and that is the cause of the conflict. Either way, getting them in touch with the other persons needs is paramount.
Orson Scott Card, a noted science fiction author, and general religious nut wrote a story once about a girl who could 'see' the connections between people – she saw them as lines of force, and they made a web between everyone. And she could see how to cut those lines with a few well-chosen words.
As an aside, how is it that some people can be monstrously intelligent and write incredible stories that are tied together, with interesting people and great dialog, and then have this incredible blind spot in their lives where they believe in invisible people who live above the clouds? I just don't get it.
When I read his story, I did note the similarities between what I do and what this fictional character does. I can't see what connects people, but with enough prodding, I can usually work it out, and it's my job to either untangle the existing connections, OR create new ones that cancel out the old ones.
At least that's how I see it. It's all really just touchy feely stuff, and it's not something I seem to be able to pass on.
And it's certainly not a skill I practice at home with the wife. Oh yeah, the wife. We've not even mentioned her yet. That's a bit crap for a story in the Loving Wives section, I know. But I needed you to have some background in what I do and how I do it, because it'll have import later.
Do I have to do the self-description? Do I? Really? When I read a story, it's the last thing I care about, what the guy looks like. Ok, ok. I'm six foot, spot on. I'm 197 pounds – at least I was a week ago. I drink vodka, I like wine, I bike for exercise and yes, my hair is starting to thin and is definitely gray at the sides. Fuck old age. Is that enough? Do I have to go on about skin tone? Or being clean-shaven? Or any of that shit? Does anyone care? Really? Yes, I have a cock. No it's not huge and no it's not small. I do ok. Jeesus.
So the wife. Yeah, I should talk about her.
Love of my life. I know, everyone says that, right? But it's true. It's like one of those things you say about having kids – How Great Having Them Is – it's just words to people who've never had them.
I find the whole thing about announcing you are having kids really interesting and not a little bit funny. You say, "We are pregnant" – and even that makes me smile. "We?" I would have just stuck my dick in her and had a grand old time, and from that point onwards, it's 100% her. She would grow it, suffer the discomfort, have to give up drinking, end up peeing a lot and finally, suffer the indignity of the actual birth, not to mention the bodily issues that can happen after, both from stretch marks to post partum depression. And yet the guy gives out cigars. Yeah, you did a whole lot, asshole.
.... There is more of this story ...