A friend joked recently that I need to work on “retaining clients”, that I should go into the divorce business as well. As funny as that is, and despite my line that I don’t really want “repeat business”, I think there’s room for more of something here: divorce ceremonies.
Ceremonial traditions have fallen by the wayside in recent days, and good riddance I say to most of them.
Our generation was born into a society that did so many ceremonial things “just because” and so much went unquestioned. Now we gladly question, and we enquire, and we investigate, and we find real meaning and purpose in things.
The purpose of ‘ceremony’
I see the purpose of any ceremony, a wedding, a naming, a funeral, a divorce, as an opportunity to down-tools, gather round people that are passing through a recognised special moment in life and usher them through. To take them by the hand and walk them through the moment. There’s a community aspect to it. There’s a cheerleader aspect. And there’s an encouragement and recognition aspect to it.
It’s a moment where a person, or persons, is lead, cheered, encouraged and at the end of the ceremony, we recognise that they are in a different place than they were before.
So what’s a divorce ceremony?
A divorce ceremony is a little more casual than your typical wedding, and it might not have the fancy dress or the flowers. But it has the same purpose. In front of, and with, a group of friends and family you make a decision about your relationship.
Sometimes when the couple are amicable they can do the ceremony together.
If the couple aren’t so amicable it’s something that can happen with just one person.
A celebrant, authorised or assumed, can talk about where we have been, but the importance of the ceremony is about where the person/s are going. What commitments are they making moving forward? How does their life change? How can their friends and family help?
If the couple are there together it’s a really good opportunity to acknowledge wrongdoings and mistakes. To bring to light weaknesses and annoyances. But don’t stop there.
After the rubbish has been aired, move on to the good things. How will life be better now? Acknowledge the positive attributes you both brought to the relationship and the family.
Encourage each other to go on to better things. And show your gratefulness to each other, your family, and friends for their efforts as well.
There’s no right way to usher people through this period of life, but if you can do it with open and honest communication and a mind to help, not hurt, you might just have the best darn divorce ceremony the world has ever seen.
There’s an amazing maturity and intelligence to recognising that in a day past we/you made a decision (to marry) and in hindsight that wasn’t a great decision, so now I’m making a new decision and I’m making that commitment with the same friends and family I made the last decision with.
Or maybe you made a good decision in the past (marriage, again) and that was a great decision then, and for a time, but now our lives or circumstances are different and that’s no longer a good decision.
What about marriage?
Marriage is a union entered into voluntarily for life. Full stop. You enter into marriage for life.
But it would be extremely immature to not acknowledge that people change, and that changes our commitments.
I hope that I’ll always be married, I think Britt’s just the best. But if anyone is ever in an unhealthy relationship, or in an unhappy relationship, and both parties have worked to mend the relationship unsuccessfully, then maybe divorce is a great decision to make.