Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.
Talk of divorce is in the air this week.
It all began with an article in last Sunday’s New York Times Styles section by Pamela Paul entitled How Divorce Lost Its Groove. The thrust of the article is that, at least among a sub-set of affluent, well-educated couples, divorce is not only less prevalent, but also more stigmatized.
And the blogosphere has been alight with discussion of divorce ever since.
I enjoy reading about divorce. Not because my own marriage is jeopardized (at least at the moment!). But because I have so many close friends and family members who are divorced. So I’m always heartened when people are open and honest about divorce, rather than treating it like cancer. Which is why – among other reasons – I was so pleased when Nora Ephron opened up a divorce vertical at Huffington Post.
To that end, here are five smart posts about divorce for all of us – divorced, married, single and “to be determined”:
1. Over on Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams endorses Paul’s main thesis, arguing that at least in her own nominally progressive, helicopterish-parenting social circle, divorce does lead to social ostracism. As she writes: “There’s great — and by that I mean terrible — irony in the way that the most supposedly enlightened and liberal of parenting enclaves can feel suffocatingly like a meeting of the Harper Valley PTA.” Williams concludes that we’d all be better off if we treated divorce as a messy reality of contemporary life, instead of as a personal achievement. And it would be better for our kids too.
2. And speaking of kids, over on the Huffington Post, recently-separated Stephanie Dolgoff (of Formerly Hot fame) talks about why, sometimes, you really do need to “put your kids second.” In the aftermath of her own separation, Dolgoff, too, was subjected to the stares and idle gossip of her close-knit neighborhood. She was aghast at how few people could actually hold back from implying that by divorcing, she had completely ruined her children’s lives. In the long run, however, she firmly believes that in securing her own happiness, she will secure her daughters’ as well.
3. Over at Slate’s XX Blog, K.J. Dell’Antonia disagrees with the premise that our attitudes towards divorce have fundamentally altered. Harkening back to her own childhood in the 1970s, she speculates that divorce was always difficult and always stigmatizing for those going through it. She encourages us to think of divorce as a phenomenon that’s still finding its groove, rather than one that’s lost it.
4. Some of the most thoughtful blogging on divorce can be found at Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy. Here’s an earlier post that Big Little Wolf wrote called Something Like Marriage, in which she explains how, despite being married, her husband never really “showed up.” This post goes to the heart of the sort of disillusionment with marriage that can drive one to divorce, even absent an affair.
5. Finally, to end on a positive note, I really liked this essay by Katie Brandi in the New York Times Modern Love column last year. In it, Brandi recounts her own disillusionment with marriage, and how she rose out of it – despite the tears, the disappointment and the new-born – to fashion a new, happier life for herself.
As I read these over, I realize that it might sound like I’m pro-divorce. As these essays recount, however, I don’t think anyone is pro-divorce, least of all those who go through it. But divorce is a painful reality of modern marriage and the sooner we face up to its myriad complexities – emotional and practical – the better.
Image: divorce by jcoterhals via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.