Does anyone remember the film, Annie Hall? Aside from being a well-made and very enjoyable film, in focusing on the other aimlessly disintegrating relationship between Woody Allen’s Alvie and Diane Keaton’s Annie, it amply demonstrates that conflicts and disagreements are not so much about right and wrong and truth or untruth as about different, sometimes rather subjective perceptions of matters. Equally it demonstrates that without skilled, non-judgemental third-party input, it can be very difficult for the issues and concerns that arise to be resolved.

A case in point is the scene in which the screen divides into two and shows Annie and Alvie characters discussing their sex lives with their respective analysts. (1)

Alvie’s analyst asks him, ” Do you sleep together?” He replies -“Hardly ever! I’d say three times a week”.

In response to a similar question from her analyst, Annie replies-” Constantly! I’d say three times a week”.

This exchange is not untypical of the emotionally charged disagreements that surface in all spheres of life and not just when couples fall out or separate. All too often, e.g. when they are discussing things between themselves or being “advised” by their parents or lawyers, and certainly when they are in court, this sort of issue which may have underlying significance is either put to one side or ignored completely.

It is all too often forgotten that disagreements such as Annie and Alvie’s can have a very significant bearing on a couple’s relationship and how they deal with their breakup. The net effect could be that issues such as child contact are not properly resolved and months or even years down the line the parties find that they are still in conflict with one another.

Mediators are not surrogate therapists or counsellors but in the course of the private, confidential sessions that they facilitate, issues such as those identified by Annie and Alvie can be given proper acknowledgement and if the parties wish, they can be discussed. Consideration of such issues might result in an acknowledgment by one or both parties which could in turn help them to draw a line and move on.

(1) see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y37wK9fO0E