Here are some of the comments we’ve heard in recent days:
- “Why are you guys getting divorced? It seems so amicable.”
- “What’s the deal? Why such a cheerful divorce?”
- “Oh no! What happened? You guys seem to be so great together!”
- “Wait, am I reading Facebook correctly? Are you guys getting a divorce?!?!”
For those of you that don’t have the history, the short version is here.
As “D-Day” has approached, and we’ve been more vocal and frequent about our impending divorce, more and more of our friends, acquaintances and colleagues have heard the news, and their reactions have ranged from feigned indifference to genuine sadness, from unabashed confusion to unconditional support, from violent surprise to quiet acceptance.
For me, I’m finding a rather astonishing parallel between the end of our marriage and the beginning of it. In 2004, we had been dating for 9 years and living together for 4. We were even common-law married in Rhode Island. (In case you were wondering, all that was required is to be cohabitating and to hold yourselves out to be married, which we had done at the hospital once.)
I remember many people telling us that marriage would change everything. I never really understood what they meant. I mean – we had been living together for years. Our finances were merged. Our lives were intertwined. What more could marriage bring?
As it turned out, for us, not a whole lot. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy being married. But we didn’t find our post-marriage life to be significantly different from our pre-married life. The wedding was lovely, of course (though the DJ who decided to play the Peter Gunn theme song to introduce dessert clearly hadn’t bothered to get to know us), but the actual day-to-day life was rather unsurprisingly the same. The thing that had the biggest impact was the decision to change from my maiden name to a married name. I wrestled with that decision for weeks, and on the day I went to the Social Security office to finalize my new name, I nearly broke down and was so flustered, I ended up closing the car door onto my face (Don’t ask).
And so here we are, seven years later, and things don’t seem that different. Just as before, we have many people telling us how we should be feeling or how things should change. Many people wonder aloud why we aren’t at each others’ throats. They urge me to think of K’s future and ensure the divorce agreement is “fair.” They loudly proclaim their admiration for our continued friendship while the look on their faces suggest complete bewilderment for our handling of the situation. Mind you – everyone means well. Comments are positive and made out of love or concern, and I take each in the spirit in which it was given. And we have many friends who know and love us both who expected nothing different.
But as I write this, on the eve of our divorce, I know that tomorrow we will walk into that court, listen to the judge, answer honestly, and walk out again the same people with the same fundamental relationship that we had before. And when we wake up on Thursday, we will live our lives much the same way we have done for the past several months. And yes, there is change, but it’s a change that has been happening over the course of years, not captured in a moment; a change that will continue to evolve over years, particularly as we eventually separate domiciles, as K grows up, and as we potentially meet new partners and “move on” with our lives. Hopefully, though, this time I won’t leave the Social Security Office with a black eye.
But contrary to what seems to be a very common practice, divorce need not be contentious. J and I still care for each other. We remain the best of friends. And we have a daughter who can only benefit from seeing that a family doesn’t have to be traditional to be healthy, loving and supportive.
Our divorce attorney put it this way:
“I don’t want to say that I’m enjoying your divorce, but I’m kind of enjoying your divorce.”
Would that more divorces were as friendly. Now, who’s ready to help us plan our divorce party?