I think we need to start holding Divorce Ceremonies. Like in that movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, when Diane Lane’s marriage falls apart her friends get her a cake and they say “weddings begin with cake and they should end with cake too.” (or something to that effect). I love that!! And I want to take it a few steps further.
In order to properly hold a Divorce Ceremony, a lot of people would need a mental makeover when it comes to marriage and divorce. The ceremony (or, as a friend of mine suggested, “Parting Party”) demonstrates an attitude that divorce is an event- not an indication of failure.
Divorce really is just an event. It represents two adults being truthful about their feelings and deciding to move on in separate directions. It doesn’t mean the marriage wasn’t a success. It simply means that the partnership is no longer healthy and effective.
Follow along in my fantasy, if you will: Let’s pretend that Bill and Kim Harsco (fictional characters) married young and have been married for twelve years. They have 2 children, Katie and Doug, ages 9 and 5. After four years in therapy, the marriage isn’t getting better and the couple feels the urge to disband. They are honest with each other as they discuss the details and define their goals: Goal #1- they don’t want this decision to negatively impact their children.
After making the appropriate arrangements and coming to an agreement (with minimal hostility, of course), Kim and Bill celebrate their new lives with a Parting Party. The event is held on a beautiful sunny day at a local park. Friends and family attend a ceremony during which the previous couple exchanges new vows: “I accept responsibility for myself and the choices I’ve made. I promise to respect you as a co-parent and work with you as our children grow. I forgive you and I wish you the best in your new life.”
Following the ceremony is a celebration as this family begins its next phase. Katie and Doug feel secure knowing that this change doesn’t mean they can’t love both parents. Katie is excited because Bill’s new apartment complex has a pool. Doug wants his second bedroom to have a baseball theme. They know that things will be different but they realize that “different” doesn’t equal “bad”. And everyone is excited and optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead.