Let’s Talk About Divorce A Bit

Or have a cake, sure.

Or have a cake, sure. [Via]

Divorce is, unfortunately, a thing that a lot of people come into contact with in their lives. I don’t mean it like “oh no the broken homes won’t somebody please think of the children” unfortunate. More like, wouldn’t it be cool if we stopped treating marriage as the be-all-end-all relationship? So people wouldn’t feel this ridiculous pressure or expectation to fit themselves into it if it didn’t feel right? That’d be nice, but unfortunately that’s not where we’re at. And, even if we did treat it that way, divorce would still be sad because it’s sad when you share a large part of your life with someone and it ends. It doesn’t have to be all sad, but sadness is usually one of the emotions that wends its way in there.

Anyway, this is all to say you will most likely meet someone who has gotten a divorce, or will get a divorce, and you probably shouldn’t be an asshole about it. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. Louis CK probably put it best:

Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married and … they just had a great thing and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times.

The way you handle it will change depending on the relationship you have with the divorcee, but first, do not presume to know anything about it. No matter how close you are to the person getting divorced, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors in a relationship. People do mean things, or disrespect each other, or even just change, and very often it is not the “fault” of one person or another. (However, if you suspect someone is being emotionally or physically abused, say something.) Do not try to accuse someone getting a divorce of not trying hard enough. I’m pretty sure it’s not a decision that’s often come to lightly, but even if it is, isn’t it better that it’s over instead of someone treating marriage lightly?

Debrett’s says that it’s likely you’ll find yourself closer to one person in the relationship than the other, but if you find yourself in a position where you’d invite both to an event, give them each a heads up. Oddly, both Debrett’s and Emily Post suggest certain behaviors that take into account the possibility that the couple will get back together. I don’t really think this is something you have to worry about, but it’s a good rule not to badmouth anyone, just because.

So, what if you’re the one getting a divorce? How do you do it in a way that, ideally, leaves you both feeling as comfortable as possible. Emily Post (who was divorced herself) says that separations are not publicly announced, just explained to close friends and family, and a divorce is usually implied by changed names, addresses, etc. Not everyone follows that rule: When Jack White and Karen Elson divorced, they threw a party (and when Jack White and Meg White divorced…they started a band). However, Debrett’s rightly suggests that you probably want to be the one to spread the news yourself, instead of letting gossip take over.

If you and your spouse have kids who are old enough to speak to, you should absolutely explain to them what’s going on, and never ever ever insult your ex-spouse in front of your kid. If it’s a case of child abuse obviously this changes, but the divorce is between you and your spouse, not your kid. Plenty of awful spouses are great parents, and you shouldn’t deprive them of that relationship just because your relationship didn’t work.

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