And they lived happily ever after — but not the way you think

Divorce is on my mind lately.

No, not the end of my current marriage, just the ends of other people’s marriages and possibly a little bit of the end of my first marriage.

There’s Molly and her Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce. Click over to her site. Go through the archives. This is the way for a couple with children to divorce if they must do so. Every chapter in this story is sweet, graceful, poignant. And every move seems to be made with the children’s feelings at the forefront. Molly has a way of making her ex-husband’s worst traits seem endearing. Molly makes me go back over my divorce and wonder if her arrangement could have worked for me. Sadly, we just weren’t that couple. We were volatile and disagreeable before and during our marriage. (I guess it takes a somewhat peaceful marriage to make a peaceful divorce.) Visions of my ex hurling my possessions onto the front lawn with neighbors watching and my ceremonious smashing of the wedding portraits in the condo complex Dumpster don’t add up to peace and poise.

Then there’s Bossy and her graceful undivorce. In a recent post she laid out the blueprint of their family life when she and her husband decided to end their marriage. “They made a commitment to each other and to all of the other components of their life together, and it goes like this: to have each other’s backs, to honor the past they’ve spent together, and to move forward as gracefully as possible, keeping the family house a continued hub where everyone can gather.

Wow. Where was all that beautifully logical thinking when my ex and I were hammering things out with our respective lawyers? No one ever suggested we see a counselor or a mediator or a divorce coach. These words sound like something a divorce coach would say. We didn’t have legal counsel, we had football coaches, forever charting the offensive and defensive moves that would give our team  the winning advantage. It was all about making the other guy look bad, dangling threats, and painting worst-case scenarios. These are not the ingredients for peace and harmony and well-being of children.

Maybe that’s the root of it, the legal system. Our losses are its gains.

Now comes this “positive swing bang hum dinger” hosted by Jack White and his soon-to-be-ex-wife Karen Elson. I don’t know what a positive swing bang hum dinger is, but it sounds like a divorce-a-palooza with banjos.  Six years ago they married on a canoe on the confluence of three rivers somewhere in South America. A shaman priest officiated. Sounds exotic and romantic. Now, they are throwing a bash for their closest friends and family to “celebrate this anniversary of the making and breaking of the sacred union of marriage.”

Seems like when folks realize the air is out of the love balloon, if they could recapture enough of that something that brought them together they  could engineer a plan outside the traditional system like Molly’s peaceful divorce or Bossy’s sensible undivorce or even, if your really, really lucky a positive swing bang hum dinger.

My personal jury is out on the joint divorce party concept. What I’ve heard of in the past is the husband or wife having their own separate celebration with friends. My models for divorce were “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “The War of the Roses.” Divorce was synonymous with custody issues, child support payments, and Friend of the Court. Never did I hear party or peace or bonfire with the neighborhood kids.

Inside the oddness of this is something quite nice. People taking it upon themselves to do what’s best for them and their unique situations. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all-marriage and there certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all divorce.

If most marriages have a 50 percent chance of ending in divorce, why spend all those thousands of dollars on the nuptials? Save 50 percent of it for the divorce party. Soon, will we have divorce planners? Unhoneymoons? Maids of Dishonor? Worst men?

Jeez, Louise, things are getting complicated.


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6 thoughts on “And they lived happily ever after — but not the way you think

  1. I tend to think of the divorces of those I know and they’ve all been acrimonious. I hope that if the husband and I ever end it, it will be with enough good grace to make sure that anger and resentment don’t take the lead.

  2. I preferred it when people just hated each other. It made me feel like it could never happen to me.

    I wonder if I get to pick out a fancy dress…

  3. Suniverse: I’ve noticed a trend of amicable divorce with some of the young families in my neighborhood. Some of them still hang out together.
    Libby: I think you can write your own rules in the post-modern divorce.

  4. Sorry it took me two days to respond to your wonderful post. Thanks for the shout out and your lovely words.

    Things are complicated, but I like them that way (on most days) because it means that my kids get to see us interact in a loving way, albeit there are still fights, and they get to see us be a family despite our split.

    I wonder if my ex would think that I make his worst traits seem endearing :). I guess that I would say that HE is endearing despite his worst traits. No matter how many horrible things he says (or does), he always does and says loving things as well. I guess I have gotten better at accepting the bad with the good since we broke up.

    But things were not so peaceful when we were married. We had very dramatic fights. I always remind people that it takes distance from each other to make our relationship peaceful. We still push each other’s buttons quite a bit but we have our own quarters to retreat to.

    Someone once said that my divorce was a fairy tale. I have a to write a fairy tale spoof for that comment…

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