Recently, a home that I sold 10 years ago resurfaced in a different light. This home belonged to a couple that I’ve come to know over the years, let’s call them Ron and Linda.
Ron and Linda bought their condo upon arriving to Boston 10 years ago and I can still remember the smile on Linda’s face when she first walked in. Light and windows were very important to her and this home had plenty of both. There was enough room for their college-aged sons to visit and the perfect hidden office nook for Ron to stack his papers.
As time went by, my husband and I had dinner with Ron and Linda in their dining room. I consulted with them when they finally decided to renovate their master bathroom. I think they even used my window guy when they replaced their many windows one fall.
So, it’s only natural that I was devastated when they called and asked me to sell the condo for them because they were separating.
Ron and Linda are great people and perhaps rare in that they proceeded into their divorce and sale of their home with as much amicability as possible.
But, despite that amicability, communicating with them wasn’t easy – the underlying tensions of what was going on for them outside of the sale most definitely came through in their interactions with me and with each other. Linda had already moved out and it was easier for her to distance herself from the sale. Ron was still living in the house, with his stack of papers, and was much more emotionally attached to every decision.
This experience definitely put my mediation skills to the test. I listened, I commiserated, I stayed neutral. I made sure that both Ron and Linda received my communications at exactly the same time and in exactly the same way. If they needed the space to work through a decision, then I gave it to them. If Ron needed to talk to me for 45 minutes every day, then I listened. If Linda wanted to express her irritation with Ron, I let her vent.
The broken relationship aspects of the sale were prominent but the logistics of a home sale for two people who are no longer living together, sharing finances, and splitting belongings was more complex.
Throughout the entire transaction, I regularly reminded myself of the emotional upheaval this sale must be creating for both Ron and Linda. This was a parting of two people who had shared a home for many years, but more than anything, it was each of them embarking on a new life, probably unexpectedly, and certainly with heavy hearts.
In the end, my hope is that I didn’t just help Ron and Linda sell their condo, but that I made a necessary process just a tiny bit easier than it might otherwise have been.