Archive for July, 2011

Is it possible to have a good divorce?

This weekend I went to a wedding of a couple in their early fifites.  Both had been married before and both had children from their previous marriages.  This wedding seemed to be different from other second weddings I had been to.  It was a full on, huge event that might have been more in keeping with a first wedding of a couple in their 20s.  It went on from 5.30pm to 1am.  There were drinks, dancing, dinner, more dancing, more food and finally the end. 200 of their friends all of us in our fifties brought together by the union of this couple.   I was trying to think what it was that made this so different.  There was no apology or embarrassment about the fact that this was the second marriage and no attempt at being apologetic for the extravanganza. It was a celebration, but the most extraordinary thing was that the new husband had his ex wife there.  She was really lovely and spent the evening, smiling and dancing and seemed genuinely happy to wish him and his new wife well.  Their children moved between the groom and their mother really easily and both of them made a speech.  The new wife’s 10 year old daughter also made a speech, saying she was glad that her step dad was so nice and that he wasn’t like the ones in the movies and she finished by saying ‘I know I shouldn’t say this, but this time, please don’t ruin it!.’  The new wife’s first husband on hearing that she was going to marry again, said how happy he was for her and I think had she wanted to invite him, he would have been thrilled to attend.  I write about this, because I think it is rare and a testament to this particular couple.  They had both been through the huge wrench of divorce and come through it, but on that journey they had both taken the decision to not make a bad situation worse and had preserved the essence of a relationship with their ex partners despite the hurt and the pain.  Out of the gloom and darkness they had maintained a dignity, which is the respect that the other was someone they once loved and who was still a parent to their children.  It was that dignity and empathy for the other even though both the bride and groom had been hugely hurt by their ex’s that meant they could fully embrace their new lives together and keep something of their old ones.  I thought it was remarkable. 

Women are perplexed by their Husband’s Choice of Mistress

I am thinking of Maria Shriver and Arnold Shwarzenegger as a prime example of how some women express complete incredulity at their husband’s choice of mistress.  There they are living together with their 4 children and unbeknowst to her, he is having a liaison with their housekeeper which resulted in a child.  Many women in our support groups talk of their husband’s having affairs with their best friends or people who they would never imagine would collude in their husband’s betrayal.  Often the mistress is envious of the marriage and the fact that her friend seems to have it all, the home, a family and a husband.  She can’t bear to be on the outside and would just like to have it for herself.  I suspect that the housekeeper who had an affair with Schwarzenegger was seduced by money, power and a touch of envy of the woman who seemed to have everything.

Sandra Bullock and Jesse James

I was interested to read Jesse James interview in which he said that he felt no remorse for his extra marital affair which broke up his marriage to Sandra Bullock.  He  also said  “2010 was actually the best year of my life because I fell in love with my best friend.”  What interests me is how many people display remarkable insensitivity of the impact of their affair on the partner who is left.  Jesse James comments are a good example.  Many people who come to our support groups say that the affair is bad enough but the public (to friends and family) display of happiness or talking about the ‘other person’ as though the marriage and the ex partner did not exist is almost intolerable.  It is one thing to grieve and get over the anger and the hurt, it is another to deal with coming face to face with an unfaithful partner’s lack of regard and respect for the devastation that lies in the wake of their infidelity.  I am always struck by the rather callous disregard that people have for each other when going through a separation.  If the leaving partner could remember for one moment that she or he loved their spouse sufficiently to marry them, or that their spouse is the mother or father of their children then perhaps a more benevolent kind of separation would begin to emerge.