Monday, February 10, 2014

Breaking up is hard to do.

Cary and Irene Dunn in The Awful Truth

"The road to Reno is paved with suspicions." --Cary Grant's character in the film The Awful Truth

Is there such a thing as a friendly divorce? It's interesting to think about. Marriage is one ritual that really "takes," even in our post ritualized society. When people get married - most people - they mean to stick it out. Taking marriage apart is rough, even when it's the right course of action.

But the legal agreement between two people, to become family, isn't the only kind of marriage. Plenty of people are married to their work. People are married to their values and ideals. There are also community marriages, as happens when people join organizations, clubs, churches or temples. Many friendships are like marriages, too, without the benefits, as they said in the nineties. (Is the term friends with benefits still in use?)

Hence there are many kinds of divorce. I've been legally divorced twice. Though both of those divorces were amicable, they were not pleasant experiences. What is amicable divorce anyway? At the end of both marriages, my ex husbands and I knew it was over and agreed to move ahead with the divorces, but it wasn't fun getting through it, it surely was not.

When I left the Reclaiming community and cut ties with most of the people, it was like a divorce. It was far more acrimonious than when I divorced my ex husbands. My ex-Reclaiming cohorts blamed me, I blamed them. The finger pointing and accusations were intense. I cried, raged, grieved. It took me years to get over the split. Now I have almost nothing but fond memories of that time, but oh the breakup was harrowing.

One of the saddest kinds of divorce is when a friendship passes its expiration date. As an Aquarian, my friends are everything to me. Still, everything has a lifespan and when it becomes clear that a friendship is no longer viable, splitting up is heartbreaking even though necessary.

I'm thinking about it in part because of the recent end of a friendship that was not working on any level, also because in three of my favorite Cary Grant movies, the plot revolves around divorced couples who get back together. The films are The Awful Truth, Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday. I love those movies! They are not romantic and fuzzy around the edges, they're not about falling in love, getting married and living happily ever after. They're about good friends who realize they want to be life partners. They know only too well each other's faults and flaws yet in the end they accept each other, warts and all. You can't go wrong watching any of them.

In real life, people don't split up as easily as in these movies, nor do they come back together so smoothly and glamorously. Ah but that's what the movies are for, right?

A blurry capture of Rosalind Russell and Cary in His Girl Friday


  1. my one and only marriage divorce was easy for me. I think I was over the relationship even before we got married, but marriage was my way out from under my father's thumb. it was 3 1/2 years before I actually filed for divorce. it was harder for him, I guess, or so he said, although I really don't understand why as he was always on the 'hunt' and would have sex with every woman who was interested. but I've had friendship divorces and they are no fun. the last time took years for me to get over it but now I've learned that not all people come into your life forever.

  2. No, nothing lasts forever. I guess that's why the Buddhists encourage us to practice letting go.

  3. I tried to leave a comment here earlier, and had one all written out, and then our internet connection died! Argh!

    Oh well. I said something about how I've only consciously ended one friendship. Most of my relationships continue in some form, though they certainly vacillate and fluctuate in intensity over time.

  4. I have been divorced once....a long time ago. I filed so at that time I was the one who went to court. We had already agreed on the terms. But as I sat there I swore to myself I would never ever do this again and I have not....because I never again legally married.