The Divorce Games: Finding Your Inner Adult

vegasRecently, I was talking with an equally sarcastic friend about our strategies to put the fun back in dysfunction. A quick Google search revealed our seemingly brilliant, original ideas weren’t original at all.

There are multiple sites offering everything from a candle that smells like freshly signed divorce papers to a full line of divorce party products for the recently unknotted. I love both because the concept of live, laugh, love completely falls apart if you leave out the middle. Laughter truly is amazing therapy.

Our idea (or so we thought) was a board game about divorce. Like everything else I have fantasized would make a mint, it’s been done.

Hold up, player! Before you get your panties all in a bunch, I’m not trying to belittle the pain of divorce or disrespect the institution of marriage. I’ve been there — twice.

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Scrape Off the Divorce Baggage Labels and Reclaim Who You Are

label1Most people like answers to questions that fit neatly into little check boxes and drop down menus. Conversational essays in response aren’t usually welcome.

When the cashier at the grocery store asks, “How are you today?” the expected answer is, “Fine, and you?” Somehow I seem to end up in line behind the person who interpreted that to mean the doctor is in—go ahead, share all of the personal details about your life. We’ll wait.

When I fill out forms, my sarcastic side wants to grab the pen and give the unexpected answer. Race? Human. Who should be called in case of an emergency? 911. Duh!

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Memories Matter–Resist the Post Divorce Urge to Purge

memoriesMy ex-husband and I got engaged on Valentine’s Day. It may be a relationship cliché, but for me it was the perfect opening scene to what I thought would be our fairy tale movie ending.

My family has never done very much in honor of the Hallmark holiday, but his always goes all out. The children in the family receive special gift bags full of items designed to say, “I love you” in a way that is meaningful to a young heart. It’s a tradition, along with many others, that I continue to honor with our children.

One of their favorite stories is about me giving their Dad, a true fishing fanatic, a chocolate bass for Valentine’s Day one year. Unfortunately, by the time he got around to eating it there wasn’t much left but a fin wrapped in foil (Hi. My name is Theresa and I have a chocolate addiction).

What they love most about the story I think is it reminds them that their parents did have many wonderful moments that continue to be inside family jokes. Moments from the past woven into our current story remind all of us that the divorce wasn’t an ending—it was the beginning of a new family script.

My children have family pictures in their rooms that assure them they were created out of love. I still hang the personalized ornaments on the Christmas tree that show the 4 of us as sleigh riding penguins or happy little elves. I feel it’s important to remind them we are always going to be a family till death do us part; we just define it differently now.

After divorce, many feel the urge to purge (or at least hide) objects in the house that serve as reminders of the marriage. Not me. Continue reading

Redesigning Your Family Blueprint After Divorce

blueprintDivorce, on paper anyway, is the legal dissolution of a marriage–nothing more, nothing less. Of course here in the real world, it is much more complex.

Divorce has inspired as much music, art and literature as love for a reason. It’s hard; downright consuming at times for the mind, body and spirit, especially when children are involved. But if you once loved someone enough to promise forever and create a new life, then you have what it takes to redesign the vision.

Yes, I get it–you had a forever plan. So did we. You were building your emotional dream house, a relationship retirement villa, designed to last until death do you part. The wedding was closing day. I had already pictured my future children coming down the stairs on Christmas morning in footy pajamas long before I said I do, but I never created a plan for I don’t.

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No Such Thing as a Good Divorce? Research Studies v. Divorce for Dummies

divorceWhile roaming the bookstore with my 9-year-old son, we found a section labeled transportation. I’m still not sure why, but How to Repair Your Car and Divorce for Dummies were facing forward, side by side. I am surprised we didn’t hear “Hit the Road Jack” playing in the background.

No worries–for those who like your bossy blueprints for life seasoned with a heavier dose of intellectual salt, there are piles of studies and how to articles on divorce to choose from. They typically aren’t found in the planes, trains and automobiles section, but multiple experts are happy to argue that divorce condemns your children to a life sentence in dysfunction junction. Continue reading