Illinois judge and writer Michele Lowrance didn’t choose to become an expert in divorce. However, years spent on the frontlines first as a divorce lawyer and then as a family court judge gave her unique insight into the personal ramifications of the divorce process. Determined to offer guidance to hapless couples, Lowrance harnessed her background in Easter philosophy to write “The Good Karma Divorce,” a sort of psychological how-to on navigating divorce’s uncharted emotional territory.
Our Town To what do you attribute divorce's increasing prevalence?
Michele Lowrance Poor communication, lack of problem resolution skills, increased geographic mobility and the ability to have emotional needs met outside marriage. Studies also show divorce is contagious; you’re more likely to view divorce as a [solution] when you are surrounded by others going through the divorce process.
OT What compelled your book?
ML I was a divorce lawyer for twenty years and have handled over 15,000 divorces during my sixteen years as a judge. I have seen firsthand the devastation divorce leaves in its wake and I have become increasingly alarmed by its long-term effects. I developed the principles on which the “The Good Karma Divorce” is based to try to reduce the cycle of anger and resentment that are so damaging to all parties to a divorce.
OT You write about your history with divorce. Why get personal?
ML I am a child of divorce and have been divorced myself. I had to reveal these things because I didn't want readers to think I was speaking from an ivory tower. I felt they could only trust me if they knew I understood what they were going through.
OT What made you connect the concept of karma to divorce?
ML It began to dawn on me that divorcing people were often missing two things: a game plan and a Sherpa guide to direct them from beginning to end, while keeping them from falling into the crevasse on the treacherous journey. My professional and personal experience with divorce, combined with my studies in Eastern philosophy, led me to consider the law of karma and how to effectively apply it to the breakup and divorce process.
OT How does karma relate to surviving divorce unscathed?
ML I believe it is not our job to enforce emotional justice to those who have wronged us. It is the job of karma, life or a higher power. When we think it is ours, we imagine the courts will help us [receive] emotional satisfaction or vindication, or we stay attached to the wrongdoer waiting for them to get what’s coming. In Buddhism, good karma, or good action, comes back to you in countless ways. If you act graciously with compassion, you may receive compassion [and] your act of compassion changes you for the better [independent of] someone else’s reciprocal behavior.
OT What can attendees expect from your upcoming seminars?
ML Most people harmed during divorce are harmed because of what they did not know about the process. I am going to tell the truth so they can protect themselves. Even if the divorce happened years ago, I will suggest reasons people may not have completely healed and ways to do so now. I have developed an alternative to the usual divorce process. It does not have to [devastate] everyone in its wake. I will teach them to avoid becoming reactive to the challenging behavior of the spouse and how to leave the lines of communication open for settlement. They will learn how to save money in their divorce, but more than that, they will learn how to protect their most valuable assets, their children.
OT What would you say to a divorcee impatient for emotional resolution?
ML The positive or negative outcomes of karma may not be immediate. They may take months, even years, to materialize. The question is, what seeds do you want to water?
A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually. IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by followingOur Town on Facebook and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez