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Tag archive for: divorce

Avoiding the Custody Shuffle

My parents split up when I was a toddler, and I’ve always felt lucky that I was too young to feel the full sting of my “normal” being torn in two.

While divorce alleviates the intolerable tensions of a sour marriage, the children of divorcing couples rarely feel the same relief. Mom and dad’s breakup rocks their notion of “family,” and ping-ponging between dual residences upends their sense of “home.”

That’s why more and more divorcing couples are opting to let their kids remain in the family home while the parents rotate in and out instead. Dubbed “bird-nesting” (in some species of birds, both parents share in the feeding and protection of their young), the practice tends to be tricky for mom and dad, but easier on kids.

Santa Barbara dad Maddox Rees and his wife have been bird-nesting from their family home since they separated two years ago. When one is at home with their sons — ages 10, 9, and 4 — the other stays at a one-bedroom apartment that they also share.

Weird? A little. But it made the most sense for them at the time.

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Love Among the Stars

We’ve all got a dirty little secret. A vulgar habit. A nasty pastime we strive to hide from others. Because if the world knew of our crude obsession, we’d be mocked. And rightly so.

I grapple with my secret as I stand in line at the supermarket check-out, trying fruitlessly to resist its seductive call. No, it’s not the king-size bar of Milky Way Midnight Dark. Not the carcinogenic carton of Camel no-filters.

My vice is fueled by the front of a glossy gossip magazine brandishing words on which no intelligent person should find herself fixating: Courteney Cox and David Arquette split!

Let me be clear. I don’t like either one of these actors. I neither admire nor relate to them and might very well turn down an invitation to join them for tapas. And I love tapas.

Yet I feel compelled to know that the couple is ending their marriage after — apologies in advance — not having had intercourse for several months.

Why do I need this information? I don’t know. It embarrasses me that I care about celebrities’ love lives, but I can’t look away. I must know if Jake Gyllenhaal has fallen for Taylor Swift! I must know why Bradley Whitford and Jane Kaczmarek divorced after 17 years! I must know what movies Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan watch on stay-at-home-date-nights! (I must try to try to find celebrity examples whose names are easier to spell … )

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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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Should Marriage Expire?

Couplehood is laid out in chapters. One chapter is rife with romance as your peers get hitched. The next is replete with pride as your peers have babies.

The next — the one I’m in now — is saturated with shock, anxiety, and discouragement as your peers bicker, cheat, and surrender their once-happy marriages to the life-hacking bandsaw that is divorce.

It’s ugly. Though my marriage feels sturdy, it’s hard not to wince and take cover, whimpering, under the storm of blame lobbing, heart wringing, and estate dividing that so many friends are weathering.

With national divorce rates around 50 percent, are half of us doomed to betray or grow apart from the partners we promised to have and hold? Are we damned to disillusionment for failing to cherish ’til death do us part?

Our grandparents managed to stay married, either through a stronger commitment to wedlock or a greater tolerance for misery. But if splits are inevitable in today’s live-for-the-moment culture, then can’t they be — shouldn’t they be — less painful?

What if, when our spouses’ faults begin outshining their favors and that irresistible yen for newness comes a-knockin’, we could gracefully excuse ourselves from the union with no hard feelings? What if marriage were a temporary construct? What if it simply expired, like milk?

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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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