Yelling “Fire!” in a Crowded Movie Theatre

You’ve been waiting for this movie to come out. Finally, it does. You buy your overpriced tickets on-line; you show up early to get a good seat; you pay a fortune for popcorn; you watch endless coming attractions.

Finally, the feature begins. Sooner or later, you realize it’s awful. You wait for it to improve, but it never does. movie-projector-200x300

You look around you for the way out; you look both ways up and down your row, but the place is packed and everyone is enamored with the film. You’ll disturb everyone if you leave.

Finally, you can’t take it anymore. You get up go, but stay hunched over so you block as few people as possible. You whisper, “Excuse me; excuse me; excuse me,” as you work your way down the row. Then you flee up the aisle to the heavy double doors out.

You push the door open; you blink in the bright light. You take a deep breath (so glad to be free!), shake off the bad show, and go on with your day.

Eventually, you return to see another, better movie.

It’s the same with marriage. You go in with high hopes; eventually, you realize you’ve made a mistake. Not being miserable until the credits roll isn’t a bad thing. And getting a divorce won’t keep you from trying it again.

There is of course, another way to exit a packed theater when you’ve chosen the wrong movie. Do you know what it is? It is to yell “fire!” at the top of your lungs (which is not illegal, by the way; see this story here.)

Yelling at the top of your lungs won't help you get out of this marriage peacefully.
Yelling at the top of your lungs won’t help you get out of this marriage peacefully.

Then, of course, you’ve created a stampede in which EVERYONE flees. People are shoved… and pushed… and bruised…. Some are trampled, seriously injured, and certainly traumatized…. And it takes longer to exit the theater than if you had carefully picked your way quietly down the aisle.

You end up bruised and broken, with your clothing torn and your wallet missing, and, of course, more traumatized than anyone.

Yelling “fire!” in a crowded movie theatre is similar to what happens in a traditional, courtroom divorce. But leaving quietly, with as little fanfare and fighting and distress as possible, is what a collaborative divorce looks like.


Need advice now? Contact Joryn!


About this week’s author:  Joryn Jenkins.

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law while also serving as a full-time professor in law at Stetson University.  She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement.  For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.


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