Separation Ceremonies

I think we need to start holding Divorce Ceremonies… or, maybe we should call them Separation Ceremonies, since such an event would be independent of the signing of a divorce decree.

In considering this, I’m reminded of the 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 Separation Ceremony, a lot of people would need a mental makeover when it comes to marriage and divorce.  The ceremony demonstrates an attitude that divorce is a choice and an event to be recognized. It represents two adults being truthful about their feelings and deciding to move on under separate roofs.

Divorce doesn’t mean a marriage failed. It simply means 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 want set a positive and productive example for Katie and Doug.

After making the appropriate arrangements and coming to an agreement (with minimal hostility, of course), Kim and Bill celebrate their new lives with a Separation Ceremony.  The event is held on a beautiful sunny day at a local park.  Friends and family gather to observe the previous couple exchange 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 they still have two parents who will love and support them as their family evolves.  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.

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  1. Christine Lavin (folk musician) has a song along these lines called “Happy Divorce Day”, from her 1997 album “Shining My Flashlight on the Moon”. Lyrics can be found on her website here: I have always liked the idea. We’ll see how things work out between me and my soon-to-be-ex, but I don’t know that we’re quite the trailblazers for such a ceremony….

    • That’s exactly what I was talking about! Thanks for the link, i had no idea this existed (and yet I had a feeling my idea wasn’t original). It’s difficult to have a good divorce- society all but forbids it. Even now, I still get scolded for not being a more vindictive ex…

  2. Hi! Nice to meet you too. Thanks for the comment. Yes. There is a good fiction book based on exactly this concept, where the spouses plan a joint party to celebrate their marriage and their family. It is The Divorce Party by Laura Dave she writes about just this idea with a fun fiction plot. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. Thanks again.


  3. Thank you so much for this blog – I think it is quite unique out of most ‘divorce’ blogs out there – its got some real energy and positivity to it. My best friend is going through a divorce, I agree that the stigma of ‘failure’ is needlessly damaging to self-esteem – instead, lets celebrate positive choices and new beginnings! I want to throw a divorce party for my friend – any tips? Look forward to reading more posts from you.

    • Thanks for stopping by! And please pass on my “congratulations” to your friend.

      I think the party should be as unique as the individual-anything from a family affair to a tame tea party (or day at the spa) to an R-rated Girls Night Out. There are a growing number of web sites devoted to such occasions (most of them are a little harsh for my taste). Regardless of gifts, guests and decor, I’d focus on making the event a celebration of growth and gratitude. Can you gather friends and plant a garden (this could be fun if you want to involve children- it’s a great exercise to show how dirt, darkness and rain are sometimes the best things for us)? Or maybe have each guest submit some words of praise: something they admire about the guest of honor? Perhaps devote some time to brainstorming new goals for her new life? Your friend is lucky to have someone so supportive on her side- good luck and have fun!

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