Tag Archives: divorce

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend


writingOn occasional Fridays, I point you towards some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

a. At my 17 year-old’s urging, I’ve recently gone back and started listening to This American Life. For all those wanna-be adults out there, have a listen to this episode entitled, It’ll Make Sense When You’re Older.

b. I’ve long been a fan of the long-form essay site Full Grown People. Divorce stories are often fairly grim, but this one about how a couple told their kids that they were separating offered a lot of hope.

c. As a huge proponent of personality tests, I really enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek take on the Myers Briggs test over at McSweeneys.

d. For all those of you planning to travel abroad this summer, be sure to first consult this set of rude hand gestures of the world so that you don’t get off on the wrong foot.

e. I also loved this smack down of the ideal writer’s life over on Lit Hub.

f. And speaking of literature, for all you aspiring writers out there who have great material from your own lives but don’t want to write a memoir, I highly recommend this FREE (!) course by Jess Loury, Rewrite Your Life. I’ve started doing it and the exercises are fantastic.

Have a great weekend!

Image: Pen and Paper via Wikimedia Commons

Should Marriage Have a Sell-By Date?

Sell By Date

Sell By DateIn the months leading up to our wedding some 20 years ago, my husband and I had a series of meetings with the priest and the rabbi who were to preside jointly over our ceremony. These weren’t exactly pre-cana classes – more like a series of “getting-to-know” you sessions – but they were thought-provoking all the same.

We got a lot of good advice from our respective officiants. The Rabbi leaned in and told us that the secret to a good wedding wasn’t the food, but the music. He then proceeded to recommend a band from the South Side of Chicago called The Gentlemen of Leisure which he assured us would rock the house. The priest, for his part, counseled us that we should never go to bed angry.

Both kernels of wisdom turned out to be true. But something else the priest said has also stuck with me through the years: “In my opinion, it’s far too easy to get married in this country and far too difficult to get divorced.”

Read the rest of this post over on Better After 50

Image: Seal Best Before Date Black Rotated via Wikimedia Commons

Divorce Hits Prime Time At HuffPo With Nora Ephron

Well, here’s a sign of the times. The Huffington Post is launching a new section devoted to divorce. It was conceived by writer/journalist/filmmaker Nora Ephron, who will also serve as founding editor.

In some ways, one’s tempted to ask: What took you so long? After all, as my colleague Bonnie Goldstein reported last week, marriage is at a historic low in the United States. And while U.S. divorce rates have declined slightly with respect to their all-time high in the early 1980s, they are still high by international standards. According to The National Marriage Project’s State of Our Unions 2007 report, for the average couple marrying for the first time, the lifetime probability of divorce or separation remains between 40 and 50 percent.

But, of course, it’s one thing to know that divorce is in the air and it’s another to say that out loud, as my colleague David Gibson noted last week with respect to divorce within Christian communities. Which is to say that when a mainstream publication like The Huffington Post makes divorce a special focus — on par with, say, “religion” and “politics” and “education” — that’s really saying something. (Full disclosure: I also write for the Huffington Post’s Living section.)

Read the rest of this post on www.PoliticsDaily.com

Image: Redesign At The Huffington Post by jessabean

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The Gores' Break-Up: Why I'm Not Sad

I think it’s best if I just come out and say this up front: I’m not really sad that Al and Tipper Gore split up.

Yes, I know. I’m an outlier. Nearly everyone I know — and certainly everyone I’m reading — is outright depressed by this separation.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a shame. And it’s a shame because — as my colleague Melinda Henneberger wrote recently — they seemed like a couple who were genuinely in love. Between the 40 years of marriage and the four beautiful kids and the whole high school sweetheart thing and, yes — the kisses — they really looked like they were in it for the long haul.

But somehow, I was much sadder when Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split up. I was also sadder when — gulp — writer and public radio commentator Sandra Tsing Loh split with her man (and then went on an anti-marriage crusade.)

Why is this?

Read the rest of the article on www.PoliticsDaily.com

Image: But It’s Over Now by Electronic Eye via Flickr under a Creative Commons License

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. One of my colleagues at www.PoliticsDaily.com pointed me to this list of 15 ways to predict divorce over at The Daily Beast. Check out #15.

2. I absolutely adored this essay by Becky Tuch at Beyond the Margins where the author explains why she’s “breaking up” with Facebook. Priceless!

3. And speaking of Facebook, Ben Casnocha has a thoughtful meditation on youth, identity and social marketing.

4. As always, I’m in love with Roger Ebert’s Journal and especially this post where he launches a campaign for real movies.

5. As someone who writes a lot about her family, I confess that this post by Lisa Gornick about how to write about your kids on Christina Baker Kline’s blog really made me think twice.

6. Finally, another gem from Michelle Kerns’ Book Examiner blog at Examiner.com. This one lists 30 famous authors whose work was rejected. (Hat tip: Lisa Romeo Writes.)

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter!

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Why Women Shouldn't Settle For Unhappy Marriages

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately. Or, more precisely: unhappy marriages. And I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t time for more women to – as we say in politics – “throw the bums out.”

I got to thinking about this after my colleague, Melinda Henneberger, wrote a post last weekend about one of those marriages about which we know just a bit too much: Silda and Elliot Spitzer‘s. You may recall Spitzer as the former Governor of New York who resigned from his job when it was revealed that he’d been patronizing a prostitution service. And you will certainly recall his wife, Silda, who stood next to him as he resigned in what has to go down in history as one of the most painful “stand by your man” performances of all time.

What Melinda zeroes in on is a quote attributed to Silda Spitzer in Peter Elkind’s new book, Rough Justice: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer. Referring to her husband’s penchant for hookers, Mrs. Spitzer says: “The wife is supposed to take care of the sex. This is my failing. I wasn’t adequate.”

Take a moment to cringe. Please.

And when you’re done, do some reflection. Because we all know plenty of Sildas, don’t we ladies? Strong, confident, loving female friends who dissolve into a pool of self-doubt and self-loathing when their husbands stray or simply fail to live up to their expectations.

Read the rest of this article here

Image: Divorce by jcoterhals via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Ways To Help A Friend In Crisis

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Several of my friends are undergoing personal crises right now. Some are seeing long-term relationships come to an end. One friend has bedbugs and needs to vacate her apartment ASAP (and toss out all her furniture). Another friend just discovered that his former partner has cancer. Here’s a story in the New York times by a guy I don’t even know (but could) who hit rock bottom when he was unemployed.

It’s hard to know how to counsel friends when they are in the midst of a severe crisis. But here are a few things that I’ve learned along the way:

1. Reach Out. Sometimes we’re afraid to reach out to friends in acute crises because we think that they’ll be embarrassed or ashamed. And sometimes we just don’t want to deal, either because their problems hit too close to the bone or because we’re so submerged in our own issues and can’t come up for air. But just as it’s important not to ignore physical pain in ourselves, it’s equally important not to ignore emotional pain in those close to us. If a friend is contemplating suicide, for example, it’s important for him to know that you don’t want to live in a world that he’s not part of. Many crises occur because people feel isolated and in despair. Let them know that you’re there and that they matter to you.

2. Listen, Don’t Give Advice. But as important as it is to reach out, it’s equally important to understand what your role is. It’s very tempting when confronted with someone else’s pain to try and fix it. That’s always my first instinct. But chances are whoever you are talking to is already getting lots of advice anyway (some from paid professionals). So the best thing you can do is to listen and let them know that you hear their pain. This is especially important in the wake of a break-up or divorce where there are often dual (and dueling) narratives as to what actually happened. (Note: this is also really good advice for raising children; most of the time you should listen to their problems and acknowledge their hurt  – no matter how absurd it may sound – rather than telling them what to do.)

3. Emphasize the Positive. This sounds obvious but it can be difficult if your friend is relentlessly negative about his or her situation. Try to find something – anything – that might give them hope. One of my friends was sending out increasingly bleak emails to a close circle of friends. While acknowledging his pain (see point #2), I also told him that his ability to describe his predicament with such clarity and conviction was itself a positive, because it meant that he understood himself incredibly well – and was finding a creative outlet to express this.

4. Send Them Something. One way to let a close friend know that you’re thinking about them is to send them something thoughtful. Right after my father died last March, one of my friends sent me a care package for Easter filled with frost-them-yourself cupcakes and some of those tiny yellow marshmallow chicks they sell in America at Easter time. She knew that my father used to send me weird stuff in the mail all the time and this was her way of saying “I’m thinking about you.” But it doesn’t have to be a present. I often send friends who are sad e-cards to brighten up their day. Or poems. Or song lyrics. Or articles I come across that speak to what they’re going through. It’s a non-invasive way of letting them know that they’re on your mind.

5. Recognize Your Limitations. But perhaps the most important thing you can do is to recognize that you aren’t God (or your all-powerful being of choice.) I recently came across this post by a friend on Facebook and it spoke volumes to me: I find it enormously heartbreaking to watch someone I love suffer under the weight of severe depression. I feel so useless. It’s really hard to accept that – at the end of the day – there’s only so much you can do. But you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary grief if you acknowledge that you aren’t in control. You can’t fix this person’s life. You can only show them love.

Image: peep by thelouche via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

This Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. There’s another great essay over at the New York Times Modern Love column, this time by Stacy Morrison. It’s about a divorced couple who still spends a lot of time together.

2. And speaking of marriage, Book Snob (aka Katy Keim) tells us what her nightstand says about her marriage.

3. And speaking of book snobs, test out your knowledge of book review clichés with Michelle Kerns over on The Examiner. (Hat Tip: Salon’s Laura Miller.)

4. You’ll also want to check out the inside of some of David Foster Wallace’s books, on display at The University of Texas Harry Ransom Center. (Hat Tip: Kristin Bair O’Keeffe.) Wow!

5. I was intrigued by this article in the Boston Globe by Laurel Snyder about fairy tales and American childhood. (Hat Tip: @lizzieskurnick.)

6. Finally, my new favorite writers’ website: Beyond The Margins. Check it out!

Oh yes. And please do follow me on Twitter!

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Why The Whole "Bad Wife/Bad Mother" Thing Is Bad For Feminism

Two articles out this week are creating quite a storm of comments among lady bloggers. The first is an article by Sandra Tsing Loh in The Atlantic Monthly talking about why – in addition to being a bad wife – she’s now also a bad mother. The second is an article by Elizabeth Weil in The New York Times about her year-long experiment in trying to see if she could improve her not-so-bad marriage and the painful lessons learned along the way.

Yesterday, a bunch of us over on the Woman Up page of PoliticsDaily.com weighed in on these two treatises about contemporary parenthood/marriage. Here’s how mine begins:


Well, ladies, I must say I’ve been having a jolly old time here in London reading your takes on the Loh and Weil articles. On a day when my combined maternal/spousal duties left me thoroughly winded and already jonesing for that third espresso before 9 a.m., I take comfort in the fact that:

a. Unlike Weil, I actually like French kissing and
b. Unlike Loh, I’m not trying to raise my children in a car.
But before I tell you what I found worrisome in both of these articles, let me tell you what I liked.
Read the rest at PoliticsDaily.com
Image: Wife and Mother by Michael Batfish via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Playing Marriage Counselor to Your Ex

Not so long ago, I got an email from an old boyfriend. His marriage was on the rocks and he was feeling angry and betrayed and he wanted to know what to do.

My first reaction was one of shock. Although our own relationship had gone through its ups and downs, we’d managed to patch things up and remain friends (over email). But I hadn’t heard from him in years. So his cry for help came completely out of the blue. (I feel compelled to cue Paul Simon singing “I met my old lover on the street last night…”)

My second reaction was one of discomfort. Of the many professions I’d trained for over the years, therapist was not one of them. Sure, I analyze myself endlessly and give advice to close friends on all manner of things. But an ex-lover? I wasn’t sure I was up to the task.

My hesitation was made worse by the fact that about ten years ago, another ex had telephoned me for marital advice. His wife had abruptly stopped speaking to him. And not as in they weren’t communicating well; she literally wasn’t speaking to him at all. That marriage ended in divorce (though he subsequently re-married quite happily). But the whole experience gave me cold feet. After all, if I screwed this up, I’d be 0 for 2. That’s worse than the US national divorce average!

But, eventually, I felt flattered. Because when I gave it some thought, I realized that I really did have some limited advice for my ex and his wife (which mostly amounted to some version of “you guys should really sit down and talk to one another”). And it seemed, magically, to be of use. A few days later, I got an incredibly long and grateful email from him about how my advice had revitalized their relationship. His wife (whom I’d always assumed just hated me, and perhaps did) even hoped to meet me some day.

I’m not sure what it is about me that causes my exes to bring their marital problems to my doorstep. But it does make me feel like I’ve come along way. As someone prone to jealousy, even ex-poste (I once hurled a plate at a wall…long story), I’m not necessarily prone to maturity where relationships are concerned. But you know you’ve grown up when you can look at someone else’s relationship – someone with whom you once had your own issues – and analyze it in an impartial, even helpful way.

And, hey, if all else fails, I definitely have a career ahead as a couples counselor. In today’s economy, we all need a back up…


Speaking of maturity, a friend introduced me to the wonderful Formerly Hot website/blog, a self-described “tween site” for grown ups. Be sure to check out the “formerly hall of fame” which includes a listing for margarine. Love it!

Image: Bride and Groom by Sharron Goodyear via Free Digital Photos.net.

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