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What Does Sanding Furniture Have To Do With Divorce?

By Jen Segura

I consider myself to be a fairly crafty person. I am always refinishing items of furniture. When I am stressed, I especially get a deep desire to find an old dresser or end table and sand it down to its original nakedness and then bring it back to life in a whole new and exciting way.

Oddly enough, even though I have been revitalizing pieces of furniture for as long as I can remember, it wasn’t until a recent project that I saw the comparison of my process of refinishing an item of furniture to the process of mediation. I will explain more below.

When I first started refinishing furniture I learned of a product that you could use that would allow you to skip the sanding step. You applied this product on the furniture and then could paint right over it and the paint would stick. That quick process of applying the product with a towel, replaced the hours of hard work it took to properly sand the piece of furniture and seemed to simplify the process. I was painting a fairly large dining table, so hours of less sanding sounded attractive! However, the table (which I now use as my desk in my home-office) did not age well at all. Normally when the paint starts to peel off the furniture it does not bother me. I like the shabby chic look and have learned with children and pets if making your furniture look old and beaten can be a “trend”, it is best to follow it!

The difference with the way this table aged is that instead of the weathered naked wood showing through, you see the shiny lacquered topcoat that still exists because it was never sanded. Blah! And it is a large project and I can’t bring myself to redo it just yet. However, I learned my lesson and now I ALWAYS sand. And I sand to the very core of the original woodwork. My recent project reminded me why I choose the hard work over the easy way… I turned a very old and dated Ethan Allen Dresser I purchased for $25 into a beautiful modern-ish dresser and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out (see pics below!)

So, how does all of this relate to mediation? Well, when I think of my clients and what they are going through I have two choices. I can get them through the process quickly, avoiding the hard parts, so they can get back to their lives, appearing to be all shiny and new. Knowing, that when the going gets rough (and it will), their old self will show through and they will continue to deal with conflict the way they always have. And clearly, that didn’t work well the first time around.

Instead, I find it beneficial to help my clients with a deep dive down to where the pain and heartache reside so they can heal that part of them, rather than tuck it away for later. They can use the tools provided to them in mediation to make better, healthier choices for themselves and their children (if applicable), and rise from this process a whole NEW person. A revitalized person. Therefore, when the paint starts to chip away, their previous persona is not what shows through. Instead, any issue not dealt with or healed from can be analyzed in its raw state. Rather than deal with it the way they may have handled it in the past, the client has an opportunity to rebuild that part of themselves. Or…to just leave it alone! Sometimes allowing some of the rawness to show through adds to the beauty of the person, just like it does to the dresser. Sometimes, it is the exposed rawness that makes a person real and relatable. More than anything, rebuilding from the core creates a whole new foundation, one that is far stronger than it would have been had we just lumped all of the “new” stuff on top of the old stuff. It is so important to analyze the roots of the problems, rather than ignore them.

A little side note: I would find it difficult to find a divorce litigator that had the time or desire to rebuild any foundations. The litigated process seems to come in like a wrecking ball and then leave the mess sitting there with no thought of the aftermath. I don’t fault the litigators for this, it is not that they are uncaring (mostly) but rather, it is the reality of the process. Too much money is being spent on the fight, the goal is survival, not growth and prosperity.

Interested in divorce mediation? Call San Diego Family Mediation Center at (858) 736-2411 to schedule your free consultation to find out more information.