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.