Moby Dick Holds The Secret To A Friendly Divorce

“Reality outran apprehension…”  – Herman Melville, Moby Dick

A divorce attorney recently wryly said that his favorite client was someone who was “rich, angry and wrong.” After having another conversation with a friend, however, it became clear that “rich, angry, and wrong” might be easy at first, but it’s definitely not the best way over the long term. A bit of a background: this friend is very clear, wise, thoughtful, and close friends and even works with her ex.

After asking how she has accomplished such an amicable relationship, she said, “Reality outran apprehension.”


She said, “Yes, reality outran apprehension. It’s a quote from Moby Dick. It means that we realized that when we first met we wanted the same things, a kid, a house, start a career, etc. Then as the years passed we discovered we were very different people who saw the world differently and enjoyed completely different things. At first we fought, but realized the reality was that neither of us were wrong, we had just grown apart to become the individuals each of us was meant to be. We decided that it made no sense to make the person wrong, just because they were different. And it made even less sense to tear down what was really good before we grew apart.”

“What we also realized is that we got into conflict when what felt like the other person saying he or she was right, was in reality feeling that the other was telling them that they were completely wrong. So being protective and defensive and thinking, ‘I am not stupid and I am not always wrong’ came across as, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.'”

She continued, “As soon as we realized this, all the animosity and need to be unfair to retaliate against feeling we were being treated that way lifted. As such, we realized we were too different to be in an intimate relationship, but we liked each other to stay good friends. After all, a good friend is someone who accepts you for who you are and do the same in return.”

What about in your relationship? Maybe realizing you can each be different and be yourself — and not be wrong — might take the worry out of being close friends.