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  • Writer's pictureAbby Rosmarin

All’s Well That Ends Well

Often, only in hindsight can we see the beginning. As we take stock of a year that has just passed and the vicissitudes of fortunes that we may have experienced, I wonder. If everything turned out well in the end, how do we make sense of all the problems we may have encountered along the way? Does the end result make up for what has happened? Can we appreciate the result without considering how we achieved it?

This inquiry may have particular resonance for people who have been involved in sustained conflict and have experienced some resolution. I have found that people, even with resolution in hand and the uncertainty over, need to process what happened.

This makes sense.

Everything is understood in context to something else. As Alvin Gouldner suggested “…human action can be rendered meaningful only by relating it to the contexts in which it takes place” So, even a “good result” must be understood by relating it to the conditions in which it occurred.

Recent clients of mine expressed dismay that although they thought they were fully aware about the possible advantages of negotiating between themselves, they found that the unanticipated pitfalls were upsetting and threatened to derail their best intentions. The negotiation process itself began to replicate the difficulties that broke their relationship.

Although they found a way back to settlement through mediation, they wanted to understand at what point and why, in pursuit of a common goal, they had diverged. They were sure that their mutual agreement could not be implemented through future co-parenting without a better understanding of what had occurred. In mediation the clients were able to reexamine “the problem," consider a non-hostile interpretation of the other person’s beliefs and actions, and ground that understanding in the circumstances of their lives as they had unfolded. CONTEXT.

At the end of Shakespeare play All’s Well That Ends Well, the audience is asked to acknowledge that despite all the intrigue in the plot, the good ending is all that matters (and the actors ask the audience for confirmation of their hard work to achieve that result). I suggest, that without the experiencing the story played out by the actors that precedes this request, it would not matter the fate of the characters.

The king's a beggar, now the play is done: All is well ended, if this suit be won, That you express content; which we will pay, With strife to please you, day exceeding day: Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts; Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts.

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