September 1, 2015/by Shari Bornstein
A couple of weeks ago I read the news that Miss Piggy and Kermit ended their long term relationship. Little information was provided about the cause of the break up. The two may have arrived at the decision to separate after “thoughtful consideration” with an appeal to “respect their privacy” as we often hear from other celebrity couples. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this news and what it means for the future of Sesame Street. I always envisioned that Kermit and Miss Piggy could weather any storm since, in my mind, they were a forever match. The reality smacks you in the face once again: you don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors. While I’m saddened by the breakup, I also marvel at the fact that they are still committed to working together. You’ve probably heard by now that Sesame Street and HBO have partnered to offer more episodes of the beloved show. I also understand that there may be a prime time series on ABC showcasing them, their friends and other celebrity guests. Since many relationships dissolve with acrimony flamed by an adversarial-War of the Roses-win/lose system, I found myself asking: “How could they possibly continue to work together professionally after ending their personal relationship?”
Not all endings of relationships take the same bitter path. In my imagination, the conversation went something like this:
Kermit: You know, Miss Piggy, it hasn’t always been easy being green. But I appreciate that you’ve stood by me all these years.
Miss Piggy: I know, Kermit. I know. It’s been hard. I haven’t always been at my best at times.
Kermit: I think we are saying the same thing.
Miss Piggy: We are. I’ll always care for you.
Kermit: I’ll always care for you, too. I just don’t want our break up to be nasty like some of our other celebrity friends. I got some information about mediation. Would you be willing to think about it? I want a result that’s fair for both of us.
Miss Piggy: I’ve heard about mediation. Yes, I want the same: fairness for both of us. No one needs to know our business except us. I want to be able to work with you in the future. We have some projects that we are still working on. I don’t want to derail them. It’s in our best interest to work together so that we continue to enjoy financial stability now and in the future.
Kermit: I’m so glad you feel the same way! Let’s make an appointment with a mediator to get started.
I applaud Miss Piggy and Kermit for their commitment to perpetuate a professional relationship despite the breakdown of their personal relationship. They recognize that doing so benefits both of them. I haven’t been privy to the way in which Miss Piggy and Kermit are wrapping up the legal details of their relationship. My fantasy includes visions of a mediated agreement created with the help of a FamilyKind mediator consultant. The couple could then focus on their “interests” instead of “positions”, which engender a win/lose scenario. Perhaps they engaged the services of a financial specialist to educate them on the nuances of the taxable consequences of their financial decisions, retirement account allocation, asset division and even spousal support. Or a FamilyKind divorce coach to support them through the emotional rollercoaster of ending a relationship. I don’t know if they signed a pre-nuptial agreement all those years ago, but maybe they are willing to ignore the terms of that document at this point in their lives. Wouldn’t it be great if they just want to make sure that they are both financially secure as they move forward with separating their personal lives.
Sadly, many couples are unable to shift their emotional relationship to a business-like one with the success that Miss Piggy and Kermit enjoy. When those couples are parents, the need to do so is even more important for the benefit of their children. Parents who share children are encouraged to redefine their relationship so that they consider themselves partners in the business of co-parenting. By thinking of the children as the most prized product a business can create, parents enjoy the rewards that come with making the product the best that it can be. When business partners do that, they prosper, just like parents do when they put aside their anger and focus on their children’s best interests.
It would be naive to think that going forward Miss Piggy and Kermit would never have creative differences. As with any business decision, disagreements arise. Maybe Miss Piggy and Kermit will disagree about which one of them will interview a certain celebrity guest on a particular show. The key is not to sabotage all of the good work that went into creating the “product”. When children are the “product”, separating parents who are are able to keep the focus on resolving differences with a business like approach will shield their children from conflict which is so damaging. These parents will enjoy the rewards of being part of a successfully run business because their children will be healthy just like Miss Piggy and Kermit enjoying the benefits of their continued work together.
So, bravo to Miss Piggy and Kermit. Even as adults, we continue to learn from them after all these years.
Shari Bornstein is an attorney and mediator. Learn more