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Take This Ring and …

Marriages begin with the promising plink of ritual: aisle-marching, veil-lifting, rice-flinging. But they end with the unceremonious thud of reality: stacks of documents, pained court appearances, crammed moving vans.

In Japan, a nation where ritual is revered and divorce is on the rise, couples have found a way to bring the same pomp, poignance, and purpose to their breakup as they did to their nuptials: divorce ceremonies.

Since last year, entrepreneur Hiroki Terai has officiated more than 20 such ceremonies at his Tokyo “divorce mansion.” He charges $600 to help divorcing couples mark the end of their relationship and take a vow to begin their lives anew. Ex-husband- and ex-wife-to-be ride to the event in separate rickshaws and smash their wedding rings with a gavel as friends cheer. Divorcés say they feel relief — even release — when it’s over.

More typically in the States, folks have separate celebrations when their divorces are finalized: “I’m going to have one this month when the cord cuts,” says a spouse-sloughing friend of mine. “But it’s going to be with girlfriends at a bar. I thought I would burn the wedding license and auction his wedding band — you know, the one he took off when he dated other women.”

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Enough for Two

You know the best thing about being an only child? There’s no math involved. No fractions required to divvy up the last piece of cake. No pie chart needed to see who got the most TV time.

Sibling-free, I got it all. All the love. All the attention. I got praise for the academic subjects I mastered, like French, and even those I didn’t, like trig. When there’s no competition, you get kudos for succeeding at arithmetic as simple as this: Love divided by one is one.

It wasn’t until I was an adult — and pregnant — that it first occurred to me that love might have a numerator and denominator. My husband and I worried how our beloved dog would cope with having a cooing, pink love-hog in the house. Isn’t it a crime to lavish affection on something and then ask it to share that affection with someone new? I asked our vet.

“Love grows,” he said.

“What does that mean?” I asked with a seriousness that should be reserved for conversations about heartworm and distemper.

“The heart expands,” he purred cryptically. He was one of those hippie earth-father vets with tons of his own kids and a fluffy, wisdom-indicating beard. “Love multiplies.”

Damn it! There would be math.

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My columns are collected in three lovely books, which make a SPLENDID gift for wives, friends, book clubs, hostesses, and anyone who likes to laugh!
Keep Your Skirt On
Wife on the Edge
Broad Assumptions
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