Divorce Parties: Cause for Celebration Or Further Evidence That We Have Become Blasé When It Comes To Ending Marriages?

Just_divorced

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commona

The lavish celebration with a sit-down dinner, cocktail reception and a band came with a $25,000 price tag. The woman of the evening dressed in white; her father walked down the aisle in front of a chapel-like structure created for the event and a bouquet was tossed later in the evening. At another, similarly-themed party, the smiling couple cut their cake together in front of their friends. Nothing new in the world of weddings, right? Wrong–these were not weddings, they were divorce parties. Inscribed in the cake the couple sliced were the words, “When life gives you lemons, make lemon cake.”

Isolated incidents? Far from it. Las Vegas, billed as the Marriage Capital of the World and a top spot for bachelor/bachelorette parties, is quickly becoming the go-to destination for divorce parties, where entertainment choices include piñatas or dartboards emblazoned with the face of an ex, or parties at the shooting range where the former spouse’s face has been plastered onto a target. The Huffington Post even ran a piece with photos of a variety of divorce celebrations–who knew a bagel brunch at the office was an option for celebrating your divorce?

What is that about? Fun fact: When I got divorced, I wasn’t partying in a “Divorced Diva” tiara while my friends played “Pin the Tail on the Asshole” (an actual Divorce Party game). Nope. I was sobbing face down in the carpet. Not the pretty kind of crying, but the ugly crying where snot is running down your face and you’re all red and blotchy. I’m better now, four and a half years later, but at the time I didn’t think it was a hoot to end my marriage and give my kids two households where there used to be one.

walking-away-strength

It’s got the cool font and the grainy picture so it must be true…

Where did this blasé, almost glib attitude come from regarding the end of marriages? I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the uptick in the “divorce is awesome” mentality has grown in sync with the rise in popularity of social media. You can almost see it coming: Married female friend on Facebook starts posting pictures–lots of pictures–out with her girlfriends, partying at the bar, commenting how nice it is to have “me time”. Over time, she stops posting any photos with her husband and she starts posting those super-deep quotation memes that are all the rage on Pinterest: You know, things like, “Sometimes everything has to fall apart to come back together”…”Life is too short to be anything but happy”…”Let go of anything that no longer serves you or makes you happy”…That last sage little nugget is great advice for cleaning out your cupboards and closets but feels pretty selfish and self-serving when it comes to a relationship. My kids don’t “make me happy” every minute of the day but I would never leave them. Marriage is also not a laugh a minute every minute but it’s still worth the commitment. (See here for a heartbreakingly real piece   on keeping that focus on your marriage.). Yet women post these updates and in sisterly support we “Like” them and affirm their need to be free and happy, whatever that means.

Twitter has dozens of hashtags and users with “Divorce Party” in their names; likewise, Pinterest has countless pins and boards dedicated to the celebration of the death of a marriage. You know what I don’t see a lot of on either site? Pithy memes about how quiet the house is the first time your kids are gone with their other parent for the weekend. Funny e-cards about the Christmas morning you hiked over to your ex’s house to see the kids open presents and there he sat on the couch drinking coffee with his girlfriend and your children. Where you were the guest, the outsider. I wonder how many “Likes”, “Pins” or “Retweets” you would get for posting how it broke your heart a little the first time you got a picture message about a major milestone your child reached that you missed because it wasn’t your time with them?

Photo courtesy of Kris Krug

Photo courtesy of Kris Krug

Divorce Party Camping Weekend? Yep, it’s a Thing

Maybe that’s part of it. Maybe some people consciously choose to have these celebrations because they are trying to put on a brave face, to accept the reality of their divorce and try to make the best of a really sad, challenging situation. Maybe some really did marry class-A jerks who make their lives miserable and have no interest in changing. Who am I to judge how or what other people celebrate, anyway?

It isn’t that I want us divorced people to walk around with a scarlet “D” on our chests, and it’s not that I don’t believe we can ever be happy again. On what would have been my fifteenth wedding anniversary, I was listening to Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where I was one of only 150 bloggers granted full press credentials. That is something that probably never would have happened had I still been married, because I wouldn’t have started writing without the newly found kid-free time that came with getting divorced. Still, it doesn’t mean I am thrilled about my divorce, and I would never want to give my kids the impression that my time with their father was a huge mistake or a major regret, because it wasn’t. Without it I would never have had them and I could never regret that. I just think the whole cottage industry that has sprung up around celebrating divorce minimizes the magnitude of the experience. I’m sure I’m projecting because of my own divorce but ultimately, I don’t think divorce should be celebrated. At least not on the level of a crazy episode from a Bravo series.

Have you ever been to a Divorce Party? What do you think of the concept? Leave your comments below.