The Modern Medea

MedeaMedea is a Greek Tragedy written by Euripides around about the 5th Century BC. It tells the tale of a wife scorned by her husband so enraged by her predicament that she takes revenge through their children. In her desire to hurt him she kills their children. Far fetched? Well, I have just been listening to the news and it seems that over the past few months we have had more than one example of husband killing wife (and vice versa but not so often) and more distressing and perplexing still, surely, the cases where is seems that an estranged father has killed his children almost saying that if he cannot have them thean neither can she. In other words, so distraught by the situation that the husband decides to kill himself and the children.

Passions in family disputes run high and it is extraordinary to think that a tale written over 2,500 ago still has relevance today.

I would certainly hope that the day to day family cases that I and other family lawyers deal with are not on a par with anything like this but even in collaborative cases where the parties are making every effort to deal with their separation calmly and rationally and in a way that puts the children’s needs as paramount, feelings still run high and bitter arguments can take place. We all say things in the heat of the moment that we regret later. When people separate it is rarely pain free. There may be hurt, arguments over the children, dealing with the pain of rejection, all very painful and emotive. But it is never a good idea to make important decisions when in an emotional state, far better to try and think things through rationally.

Never easy, particularly for instance if you are on the receiving end of a Divorce Petition or feel that you have to instigate a separation because your marriage is at an end. Separation has all sorts of consequences – the family home may have to be sold, neither parent may have as much contact with the children as they are used to, the pension that you have built up over a lifetime has to be divided – all potentially devastating circumstances. Understandably feelings run high.

However, this is where mediation can help, to help you think things through rationally, make decisions that are in your interest not necessarily based on emotion but on reality, and what is in fact going to be best for you and your children – certainly not Medea’s solution! The story might make great entertainment but it is devastating for all concerned. The key point in any family dispute is to try and find a solution that is, as far as possible, in everyone’s best interest. It is not a battle, it is not a fight that one person can win or lose, but a negotiation and one best carried out as far as possible free from emotion, although everyone is obviously fully aware of the emotions involved. This is why mediation is so important, having someone there who is neutral and well used to dealing with the emotions and pain of a separation but who can give good advice on potential ways forward.

Medea makes great entertainment – it is a fascinating and powerful play – but something to avoid in real life. There can be positive outcomes to a divorce; children can spend quality time with both their parents and a new relationship may be better than the old one.

For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email

Share this post

Coronavirus – update
We can offer MIAM and mediation appointments virtually by telephone/zoom or in person, whichever you prefer.
Please do contact us for help and information about any of the issues covered on our website
+ +