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"The dress is designed to look it's most beautiful as the woman walks away"
July 5, 2011 9:24 PM   Subscribe

The joint crushing of the wedding ring is the highlight of the event With many people reassessing their life choices following the tsunami, Japan is seeing a marked increase in divorce ceremonies. As well as the ring crushing, these ceremonies feature friends and family witnesses, dresses "designed to look it's most beautiful as the woman walks away" and frog motifs.
posted by sarastro (78 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
That yellow dress is gorgeous. I wish they had a full-body shot from behind.
posted by NoraReed at 9:27 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The idea of celebrating one's divorce is so alien to me. It seems it should be an occasion for sorrow, humility and reflection. Mine certainly was.
posted by Decani at 9:35 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I appreciate the sentiment, but if I wanted to divorce someone, I'd not want to go to the trouble of setting up a party to formalize it. It's like doing a wedding, but without the happiness.

Saying that, if you were going to have to do something, it should be raucous, more like a bachelor party than a wedding. Maybe each person goes out to a bar with friends, is baptized by a ceremonial drink poured over the head, and welcomed back to singleness. Then everyone gets shitfaced and the newly-single move on.
posted by emjaybee at 9:37 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's an occasion for snark. Every word spoken should ideally sound as if it came from either Leroy or Loretta Lockhorn.
posted by JHarris at 9:38 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


The sad thing about the frog motif is that, in Japanese, "frog" is kaeru, which is also the verb for "to return". Is this a vow (we return to who we were) or a dream (we will return together one day)?
posted by SPrintF at 9:38 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


How do you decide who pays for the ceremony?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:44 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a great idea to celebrate the divorce, honoring the official break, as the official union was honored. I think it would, in mutually decided separations, make divorce more bearable for everybody if it were a community effort to mark the event.

It's a funeral ceremony of sorts and even though that is a sad occasion, the ritual offers a kind anchor in time, a The End. I think that would be healing for both sides.
posted by nickyskye at 9:44 PM on July 5, 2011 [20 favorites]


That yellow dress is gorgeous. I wish they had a full-body shot from behind.

I find it funny that, at least in the case of the woman in the video, the dress is supposed to symbolize an amicable breakup, but it's designed to look best as she walks away, as if to say: "This is what you're missing out on by ending this marriage, sucker!"

Maybe I'm just a cynic, but the sentiment seems more bitter than the report suggests.
posted by asnider at 10:00 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


What does it mean to catch a divorce bouquet?
posted by fractalnegative at 10:18 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, the first ceremony certainly wasn't a mistake so how could this one be?
posted by basicchannel at 10:22 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You've got an old fashioned idea divorce is something that lasts forever, 'til death do us part.' Why divorce doesn't mean anything nowadays, Hildy, just a few words mumbled over you by a judge."

That being said I'd rather see people deal with a huge life change in a healthy, celebratory way than these nightmarish, decades-long quagmires that some people get into where they decide they're going to GET THAT BASTARD.
posted by bleep at 10:22 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


dress
posted by bq at 10:29 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pawn that ring, silly.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:36 PM on July 5, 2011


Must have been a slow news day, but I guess a gimmick did the trick.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:04 PM on July 5, 2011


divorce party
posted by stbalbach at 11:05 PM on July 5, 2011


What's with the frogs? Is it because they hop away?
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:05 PM on July 5, 2011


Apparently Jack White and Karen Elson are slightly ahead of the Western-cultural curve on this one.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:20 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Frogs? Okay, but what about the fish and cape clad divorce musician at the reception, singing about splitting up.
posted by unliteral at 11:39 PM on July 5, 2011


The video made it seem more like a "nijikai" - the party after the wedding ceremony. Just hire out a place with some friends, and have an all-you-can-drink bender.

I just wonder if they'll play BINGO at these ceremonies as well.
posted by Metro Gnome at 11:41 PM on July 5, 2011


I agree with Decani - I can't imagine myself going through such a ceremony. The emotions associated with divorce can only be negative (whether they're simply gentle regret or tooth-gnashing rage) which hardly seems the basis for a party. And the whole point about divorce is that you don't want to do things together any more - so bringing everyone together for the same kind of conspicuous display of unity which embodied the opposite feeling when you got married seems somewhere between illogical and bitter self-parody.

I suppose it might make more sense if you saw marriage as inherently temporary. If you specified a five-year term at the beginning, then the natural end of the contract might be marked with a bit of a do. But that wouldn't really be what I understand by 'divorce'.
posted by Segundus at 1:16 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pawn that ring, silly.

And replace it with the ceremony of crushing your spouse's dreams.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:29 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without having read any of the links, my guess is that the frog/kaeru/return thing is because, traditionally, when a marriage ended, the person who had entered their partner's household to live with their in-laws (usually the woman) would go back (kaeru) to their family home, to live with their own parents again.

This pattern isn't as universal as it used to be (fewer people live with their in-laws, for example, at least in the first years of marriage), but the family home is still the first port of call for most marriage-leavers in Japan, and "Jikka ni kaerasete itadakimasu" is still the stereotypical thing that women in TV shows and so on say when they leave their husbands: "I'm returning to my family home," but in an extremely polite (and therefore cold) form.

(Note too that the actual etymology of jikka is not "family home" or anything but "real home". It makes sense that you would not go there, but return there.)
posted by No-sword at 1:33 AM on July 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


It would be interesting to know whether this is a real trend, or one of those Let's Find Something Wacky About Foreigners! pieces. The reporter in the video said the company had done 80 divorce ceremonies in two years (less than one a week), and the second article quotes several other articles which, in turn, all seem to be quoting the same guy: Hiroki Terai, "the first organiser of divorce functions in Japan".

That makes me think this is a tiny fringe thing that the international press have turned into a bigger deal than it is in actuality. Kind of like when Wired tries to tell you that three guys doing something in New York is a trend.
posted by Georgina at 1:41 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I appreciate the sentiment, but if I wanted to divorce someone, I'd not want to go to the trouble of setting up a party to formalize it. It's like doing a wedding, but without the happiness.
I imagine one reason for this is that the bride and groom (or whatever) can hit on the guests as soon as they are divorced. So in a sense it's like a singles party
posted by delmoi at 1:58 AM on July 6, 2011


The woman who caught the bouquet of yellow roses looked really happy to have done so. Did she want to get divorced? I'm trying to think of what else that could symbolize.
posted by randomname25 at 2:36 AM on July 6, 2011


I've had several male friends go through divorces in recent years but have so far been unable to persuade any of them of the potential fun to be had from having a re-bachelor party.
posted by kcds at 3:42 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The emotions associated with divorce can only be negative (whether they're simply gentle regret or tooth-gnashing rage) which hardly seems the basis for a party.

Friends of mine broke up with a party after they dissolved their civil union. One wanted kids, the other didn't. They were celebrating the good bits of their relationship.

I thought I was a bit OTT scorched earth with my exes , but I see I'm actually sweetness and light compared to MeFi.
posted by rodgerd at 3:50 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


kcds raises an interesting point. A lot of divorces are not mutual: it's often one spouse who wants out of the relationship, and more often than not it's the wife who initiates the divorce. I could see the wife wanting to look good while she's walking out the door, but I somehow doubt the husband would be as interested in making a grand exit.

The cynic in me also thinks this is just another way of squeezing out more cash for ceremonial parties. Weddings cost money, funerals cost money, and now divorces? Aren't there lawyers to pay and child support payments to cover before you start booking halls and calling the florist?
posted by spoobnooble at 3:55 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I imagine, in the case of an amicable divorce (I only know one person who's been through one personally and that was not) there's some sense of relief to be had. If you remain friends, why not celebrate the start of a new era?
posted by mippy at 4:00 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really like this idea. Clean, a sense of closure, no lingering animosity. Very civil.
posted by kpdawes at 4:07 AM on July 6, 2011


Just curious: is there anyone here who has both undergone a divorce and thinks this is a neat idea?
posted by Decani at 4:49 AM on July 6, 2011


I've had several male friends go through divorces in recent years but have so far been unable to persuade any of them of the potential fun to be had from having a re-bachelor party.

If, at a bachelor party, one celebrates the final night of being single with debauchery and cocaine and strippers, shouldn't a rebachelor party celebrate the final night of union? So an seething, silent dinner with one party staring and the other avoiding eye contact, followed by an evening of watching separate televisions in separate rooms, capped off by a sexless night spent as far apart on the bed as possible.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:50 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think ceremonies at all important stages of life can be really meaningful and beneficial. The fact that a divorce is often sad doesn't change that. We have wakes, don't we?
posted by prefpara at 4:58 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I appreciate the value of ceremonies, I'm confused by the sense in some comments that this sort of ceremony will make divorces less acrimonious. It seems like people going through divorces with a lot of negative feelings are either going to not have a ceremony or they're going to have the party and then go back to hating each other. It's not like wakes keep people from hating the dead.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:05 AM on July 6, 2011


Just curious: is there anyone here who has both undergone a divorce and thinks this is a neat idea?

Me. I wouldn't necessarily have done this myself just because I'm not big on social occasions. But I've never had a truly acrimonious break-up -- or at least not one in which the hostile elements dominated or won the day. My basic attitude toward every former partner I've had is, "Be well and have a great life . . . just not with me!"

It would be horrible to have a party where everyone was tense and awkward and forcing smiles (like a wedding, without the chicken dance), but if you do still have respect, affection, and fond memories for one another, what a nice way to let each other and your friends know that nobody is dying here, that friends aren't going to have to choose one of us to keep associating with, that relationships change and maybe end over time but that's OK, and we can have a freakin' sense of humor about it instead of seeing it as "failure."
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:07 AM on July 6, 2011


We have wakes, don't we?
posted by prefpara at 12:58 PM on July 6


Some do, but personally I have never been to a wake and I don't know anyone who has. They strike me as being as inappropriate and insensitive (especially towards the closest relations of the deceased) as this notion of a divorce "celebration". Every funeral I have been to has been a largely sad occasion, the primary purpose of which is to show final respect to a life. They were in no sense a celebration.

I simply can't understand people who do not see divorce - any divorce, even amicable ones - as a deeply sad failure, and of something that should have been a source of lifelong shared contentment and companionship. When my divorce finally went through I felt a certain grim relief that the long and painful process was over, but all of my other emotions were negative: grief, loss, self-loathing, anger, hatred, fear, heartache, stress... if someone had suggested I should have a divorce party or ceremony I honestly think I might have punched them.
posted by Decani at 5:07 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry -- none of that should imply that (back when I did romantic partnerships) I didn't cry or feel abandoned, jealous, guilty, resentful, frustrated, petty, vengeful, embarrassed, or like a giant screw-up. Just that in the end those things didn't stop me from also seeing that the person I used to be with is still the same good person and not someone I wanted to damage out of pain.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:13 AM on July 6, 2011


This isn't as weird to me as it seems to be to others. Sometimes you need some kind of ceremony to finalize the end of something. I know I went through the same thing as I burned all of my ex-gf's gifts to me. I got drunk with two of my best friends and we purged her very existence out of my life (her things, not her physically....that would be some kind of murder I believe).
posted by Fizz at 5:20 AM on July 6, 2011


Hey, if only my parents had done this when I was fourteen, then at least I would have had *some* kind of contact with my dad before he moved to the other side of the country - ha ha ha - ha - ha. *snf*
posted by Mooseli at 5:23 AM on July 6, 2011


I have a friend who did celebrate her divorce (with a giant cake for everyone in the office, and a celebratory meal for friends), but this was a divorce that took forever, and kicked off after a night spent waiting in fear and worrying over whether her husband was going to come back and beat her or if the police would get there first.

Then to actually get legally divorced took about three years.

It was worth celebrating.
posted by mathw at 5:44 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


When my divorce finally went through I felt a certain grim relief that the long and painful process was over, but all of my other emotions were negative: grief, loss, self-loathing, anger, hatred, fear, heartache, stress...

Nothing says these people aren't feeling all of these things as well, but they are choosing to react differently to these feelings than most people would which is pretty admirable, don't you think?

I simply can't understand people who do not see divorce - any divorce, even amicable ones - as a deeply sad failure

That doesn't mean you have to beat yourself up over it, what good comes from doing that?
posted by symbollocks at 5:47 AM on July 6, 2011


How do you decide who pays for the ceremony?

Well, there are these two smashed rings nobody needs anymore....
posted by eriko at 5:51 AM on July 6, 2011


I'd imagine this makes divorces far more civil, very interesting. I doubt nasty divorces take this route in Japan either, but this ceremony ensures that polite divorces are publicly discussed more frequently, which shows people how they should behave. Very different social message from the television show divorce court.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:25 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


i find it amazing that some people can't imagine there would be anything worth honouring from a marriage that ends in divorce.

i had a divorce ceremony. it wasn't a party, but we said a poem, dipped our wedding rings in the ocean, and changed them over to the other hand.

we loved each other too much NOT to give the 10 years we were together a fitting and respectful measure of closure. and yes it was sad, but it was also a new beginning for both of us, to go forth and grow. i think that's something important to pay tribute to.
posted by wayward vagabond at 6:29 AM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


I simply can't understand people who do not see divorce - any divorce, even amicable ones - as a deeply sad failure

and the fact that we became different people than we thought we would, does *not* make the ending of my marriage a failure. how could loving someone ever be a failure??
posted by wayward vagabond at 6:31 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Decani: "Some do, but personally I have never been to a wake and I don't know anyone who has. They strike me as being as inappropriate and insensitive (especially towards the closest relations of the deceased) as this notion of a divorce "celebration". Every funeral I have been to has been a largely sad occasion, the primary purpose of which is to show final respect to a life. They were in no sense a celebration."

Sadly, I've been to lots of wakes. None of them have been "celebrations."

Usually, it's a gathering where the family can gather (typically having flown in from various distant locales), and mourn the deceased together. Please don't talk about subjects that you admit to having no experience with.

posted by schmod at 6:43 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the risk of sounding like a xenophobe, can we please stop importing bizarre rituals from Japan now?

Hell, I've done my part. I learned what a "pokemon" is in order to have a sustained conversation with my manga-maniac young cousins, I've played mountains of Shibuya-kei music at beauty pageants for dogs, and MC'd a series of slave auction themed bukkake parties at the local fire station bingo hall, but goddammit, I draw the line at putting on a freaking shirt and tie so I can watch my idiot friends and/or family smash wedding rings with a frog hammer.
posted by sonascope at 6:44 AM on July 6, 2011


Every one of these ceremonies should conclude with this song.
There's one thing I have to say so I'll be brave
You were what I wanted
I gave what I gave
I'm not sorry I met you
I'm not sorry it's over
I'm not sorry there's nothing to save
posted by schmod at 6:45 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I kind of did this. After the court part, former Mr. SK and I took pictures of each other smiling with the divorce certificate, went out to lunch at our favorite restaurant, and there was a party that night that wasn't so much a celebration of freedom or a wedding reception, but more like "yay time to move on and with lots of alcohol"
posted by superkim at 6:47 AM on July 6, 2011


Whenever these sorts of Japanese stories get published I imagine Mefi saying "Japan!" in the same way that Ricky would say "Lucy!" whenever he was exasperated with her.
posted by oddman at 6:48 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


A lot of divorces are not mutual: it's often one spouse who wants out of the relationship, and more often than not it's the wife who initiates the divorce.

WRONG. More often than not it's the wife who files the initial legal papers. That is NOT the same as initiating the divorce.

When a couple separates there is a legal limbo where finances are a mess, right at the time when the couple is least likely to be working together amicably. (AskMe from this weekend.) When there are children involved (read your own link) and they're living with the mother, it's imperative to get the kids' needs met before the adults divide up what's left. Daycare, child support, etc. are not determined until there is a separation agreement and/or court order. So when one parent moves on, has new living expenses, etc., whoever the kids lives with has to file. That is NOT the same thing as initiating divorce.

BTDT, and yes, my ex thoroughly enjoyed telling the kids later on that I was the one who wanted the divorce. Good times.
posted by headnsouth at 6:49 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some do, but personally I have never been to a wake and I don't know anyone who has. They strike me as being as inappropriate and insensitive (especially towards the closest relations of the deceased) as this notion of a divorce "celebration".

With all due respect, I find it curious that you have formed an opinion about wakes without having attended one.

I have been to four -- and I was one of the grieving in three of the cases, as they were wakes for my grandparents -- and in all instances, I found them tremendously healing, comforting, and life-affirming. Yes, there were tears in all cases, of course. But the funny stories and the celebration was tremendously comforting, and helped bridge the gap from "I'm so sad that s/he's gone" to "I'm so grateful that s/he existed in the first place and that I was able to know him/her".

In a sense, I found that focusing solely on the "I'm so sad s/he's gone" makes the deceased's story solely about the fact that s/he died. A wake emphasizes that "you know, s/he did some good living BEFORE s/he died, and that is a good thing to remember as well." And remembering some of those things can be very comforting, both during the wake and afterward as you continue the grieving process.

Same too with a divorce and its aftermath. A divorce is a funeral for a marriage, in a sense, no?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 AM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I know I went through the same thing as I burned all of my ex-gf's gifts to me.

A couple of years after my divorce, I attended a party where the theme was "burn things from your old life that are completed". I forget what all the folks who brought things burned (one person had a paid-off mortgage file) but I brought my original wedding certificate and put it on the fire. I felt some nice closure afterwards.

I don't think I would have enjoyed the sort of ceremony depicted in the OP. My divorce was civil, but by the time I was done, I was done, and I certainly wouldn't want the stress of a ceremonial party to mark it. "Our" ceremony was in court when we signed off on the paperwork. But I wouldn't think less of people who had a divorce ceremony of this sort; I just wanted my "ceremony" to be about myself and not the marriage that had ended.
posted by immlass at 7:00 AM on July 6, 2011


i find it amazing that some people can't imagine there would be anything worth honouring from a marriage that ends in divorce.

Nobody said that. It just seems strange to some of us to make your actual divorce - the very act of breaking up your married relationship - the occasion of a celebration. Nobody says you can't have an amiable realtionship with your ex, but why would you choose the divorce itself - which no amount of Pollyanna doublespeak can make into an enhancement of your relationship - as the occasion to big up your togetherness?

To me, that's not so much like having a funeral that celebrates someone's life: it's like having a funeral that celebrates their health.
posted by Segundus at 7:09 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nobody says you can't have an amiable realtionship with your ex, but why would you choose the divorce itself - which no amount of Pollyanna doublespeak can make into an enhancement of your relationship - as the occasion to big up your togetherness?

because it *was*. because you existed and loved together. because there were (presumably) good times and memories that became part of who you are, individually and as a couple. because you genuinely wish the best in the future for the other person. because you'd like to look back on a marriage as a learning experience, and not something you feel terrible about for the rest of your life. because there are lessons that you will take into your future relationships.

because life is short, and in a world where there are far too many people who don't have anyone to love them at all, you were fortunate enough to have had someone who wanted to love and be with you forever.

and if you think looking at a marriage that way is "Pollyanna doublespeak", well then, i feel bad for you.
posted by wayward vagabond at 7:23 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been in a long term relationship that lasted seven and a half years before we both decided to end it. It was, in many respects, a divorce without the paperwork. It was very amicable. We're both still friends. We're just no longer in love. We're leaving a splendidly huge apartment that allowed us to host all kinds of parties for friends; and are both moving into smaller places that are a little less suited for large gatherings. So, the weekend before one of us moved out, we decided to have one last housecooling \ breakup \ make-our-move-easier-by-drinking-our-booze party.

There weren't any specific breakup commemoration ceremonies, but in the same way that a wedding is a chance for a community to recognize, celebrate and support a union between two people, the breakup party was a really nice chance for of our friends to express their support for both of us as individuals and wish the best for us. For us, it was public opportunity show to our friends that the split was amicable and that they wouldn't have to worry about any awkwardness or us asking them to choose sides.

I still find the apartment quiet and lonely, and I still have dark nights where I wonder what could've been; but I do have closure and a surprising sense of hope.
posted by bl1nk at 7:23 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


paraphrasing Woody Allen: "We had a limited amount of money and we decided we'd either take a vacation in Bermuda or get a divorce... we discussed it maturely and we decided that, while a vacation in Bermuda is over in two weeks, a divorce is something that you'll always have." Heehee
posted by ReeMonster at 7:42 AM on July 6, 2011


I'd imagine the most awkward part is putting the garter back on.
posted by zamboni at 7:46 AM on July 6, 2011


With all due respect, I find it curious that you have formed an opinion about wakes without having attended one.

I have been to four -- and I was one of the grieving in three of the cases, as they were wakes for my grandparents -- and in all instances, I found them tremendously healing, comforting, and life-affirming. Yes, there were tears in all cases, of course. But the funny stories and the celebration was tremendously comforting, and helped bridge the gap from "I'm so sad that s/he's gone" to "I'm so grateful that s/he existed in the first place and that I was able to know him/her".

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on July 6


Thank you, Empress. I've been to several wakes--every relative I've had that's passed on has had a wake, not to mention family friends. It's still very common in my neck of the woods to have the wake at the funeral home the night before the funeral itself.

And like Empress said, wakes are very different in tone from funerals. Funerals are solemn, and respectful, and reverent, and are about helping the loved one pass on. But wakes are lighter. They're more about "remember when?" and "remember this?" and "remember that time?" People sometimes bring food, or games to play, and often someone's got a flask or ten in the trunk of his car, for those whose memories are better aided by liquor. There's more talk, more chatter, more remembering and hugging. People cry at funerals, but people laugh and cry at wakes.

So I can understand the urge to have a divorce ceremony of some sort. Because even when a marriage dies, there were at least some good times*, so I think that the "remember when?" aspect, with laughter and maybe some liquor, deserves to be appropriated for divorce, too.




*barring abusive situations, natch.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:59 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've never been to a wake, but if I ever do I hope it'll be like that one in Snatch.

That seemed pretty rad.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:22 AM on July 6, 2011


This strikes me as a wonderful idea. As said above, there's the sense of closure, but also the public acknowledgment that is present in some other rituals of life. Divorce is a big step, and for there to be a formalized ceremony for that as for the other big steps of life, I find it entirely appropriate.

Not to mention that for some couples, knowing that there's this event at the end which will require you to be civil to each other, perhaps that will aid in the civility and keeping perspective throughout the process itself.

But -- as for weddings -- not everyone's bag. Sure.

I assume that wedding gifts are returned at a divorce ceremony? Or at least their cash equivalent?
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:30 AM on July 6, 2011


This may be a new idea in Japan, but it's been around in the US since the 1980s. The idea is that since divorce does lead to a period of bereavement (and it does, been there, and have interviewed a little over 100 others on the subject for a book I'm writing) the ceremony offers a sense of closure in a way that parallels what a funeral should do. It's not about "staying friends" or "being amicable" so much as it's about giving yourself the psychological boost of a recognizable rite of passage, one that not everyone experiences. Neopagans (some, not all - there are distinct anti-divorce factions) definitely have a ritual for this called "handparting" and the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church also have divorce ceremonies in their liturgy, brought out only by request and at the discretion of clergy.

Marriage is not a universally good choice, nor is divorce a universal experience. Given how very individual building a relationship and ending a relationship with a person can be... well, these ceremonies have to do something in an abstract, unquantifiable way.
posted by medea42 at 8:40 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Y'know, I've been a little uneasy about my enthusiastic defense of wakes, so I'd like to amend that:

delmoi, I just wanted to clarify that I wasn't coming to an impassioned defense of wakes in an effort to say "there's something wrong with you if you don't want to go through this!"

that wasn't my intent at all, for the record. It wasn't any kind of "everyone must do this and it is unhealthy if they don't." It was more like, I got the sense from your comment that you thought it was unhealthy if people DID do it, and I wanted to point out that, "actually, a lot of people do get a lot out of it."

But there are also probably very likely people who would find that kind of celebration a little too painful, at least right away. Grief is a funny thing, and is a very personal thing. I keep thinking about the Jewish custom of waiting until a year after the burial to erect the headstone on a loved one's grave; I've been told that the reason for waiting a year is to give the grieving more time to heal. And wanting that time is also valid.

So my point was not to say "there's something wrong with you if you don't like this," but more like, "there's nothing wrong with people who DO want this, and for some it can be quite helpful."

I think a lot of people are talking about this kind of "divorce ritual" right now because prior to this, there was not really any such thing, and it's possible many people wish there had been, because it might have helped for the same reason a wake helps many people as well. However, if it's not something you think you would find helpful, that's also fair.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:50 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, vagabond, I'd call that "missing the point".

There seems to be a view here that for decent people, divorce is a chance to reaffirm the good of your relationship, almost like renewing your vows. If that isn't doublespeak, I don't know what is.

If I weren't trying to be courteous, I could tell you a better place to put your cheesy greeting-card sermons than in my face.
posted by Segundus at 9:04 AM on July 6, 2011


than in my face.

FYI, this thread isn't your face. It's a community discussion where reasonable people can disagree.
posted by muddgirl at 9:17 AM on July 6, 2011


medea42 - I've participated in a UCC service - I think it was called "Order for the Recognition of the End of Marriage." I found it both poignant and helpful. Leave it to the UCC to be a church for the 21st century.
posted by Tennyson D'San at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think we're (understandably) looking at this through the eyes of a Western divorce. It seems to me that the majority of Japanese divorces are actually rather similar to getting a marriage license - you fill out some paperwork, sign/stamp it with witnesses, and take it down to the municipal office to be registered. To many US couples, a "courthouse wedding" seems like a hollow way to mark the start of a relationship - I can see how a municipal divorce may feel hollow to a much smaller subset of couples. In the US, it seems that most divorces are much more drawn out, even if they are uncontested - many states require a period of separation up to 1 year.

On the other hand, it does appear that "divorce parties" are one of those niche things which newspapers discover via press release and report on completely uncritically, making the phenomenon appear much more common than reality.
posted by muddgirl at 9:34 AM on July 6, 2011


I don't imagine my wife would be super keen on a divorce ceremony, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be either.

Friends of mine broke up with a party after they dissolved their civil union. One wanted kids, the other didn't. They were celebrating the good bits of their relationship.

Was it a case that one of them changed their minds with respect to kids? Or did they just never discuss it? I can't imagine people getting married without first discussing the kid thing.
posted by antifuse at 10:03 AM on July 6, 2011


« Every one of these ceremonies should conclude with this song
And start with this one:
And the license said you had to stick around until I was dead
But if you're tired of looking at my face, I guess I already am
But you've never been a waste of my time, it's never been a drag
posted by nicebookrack at 10:33 AM on July 6, 2011


MetaFilter: this thread isn't your face.
posted by brain_drain at 11:00 AM on July 6, 2011


To paraphrase Dan Savage, it's absurd to define marriage in terms of success and failure. After all what is a successful marriage? You grow old, and then one of you dies. Yeech.

We need to stop fixating on divorce as some sort of failure (especially when kids aren't involved). It's a weird echo of our puritanical past.

Even though marriages should be very large commitments, they do occasionally come with expiration dates. Doesn't mean that they weren't good while they lasted, or failures of any sort.
posted by schmod at 12:04 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


This ask.mefi is relevant to your interests, schmod & nicebookrack.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:38 PM on July 6, 2011


The idea of celebrating one's divorce is so alien to me. It seems it should be an occasion for sorrow, humility and reflection. Mine certainly was.

I agree with Decani - I can't imagine myself going through such a ceremony. The emotions associated with divorce can only be negative (whether they're simply gentle regret or tooth-gnashing rage) which hardly seems the basis for a party.

Never assume that your preferences or experiences are indicative of everyone else's. YMMV. My divorce was amicable. We were originally friends and we wanted to remain friends before things broke down even more.
posted by briareus at 12:49 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I accept that some people think that celebration is an appropriate way of dealing with a failed relationship. But I will never understand that. And I will never feel like I'm on the same fundamental wavelength as such people. That's all.
posted by Decani at 1:31 PM on July 6, 2011


To paraphrase Dan Savage, it's absurd to define marriage in terms of success and failure. After all what is a successful marriage? You grow old, and then one of you dies. Yeech.


If Savage really said that it's easily the most stupid, shallow thing I ever heard him say.
posted by Decani at 1:35 PM on July 6, 2011



Some do, but personally I have never been to a wake and I don't know anyone who has. They strike me as being as inappropriate and insensitive (especially towards the closest relations of the deceased) as this notion of a divorce "celebration".


Well, you'd be wrong. Perhaps you should chill the fuck out and stop making absolutist pronouncements about your morality and the rest of the worlds' expected behavour. If you started lecturing my father-in-law in that snotty tone about how wrong he was to have a wake for his mother, well, if he didn't flatten you, I sure as fuck would.
posted by rodgerd at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2011


Friends of mine broke up with a party after they dissolved their civil union. One wanted kids, the other didn't. They were celebrating the good bits of their relationship.

Was it a case that one of them changed their minds with respect to kids? Or did they just never discuss it? I can't imagine people getting married without first discussing the kid thing.


They wanted a committed relationship at the time. The time when kids would be a make-or-break was a long way off, until it arrived.

It's not how I'd do it, but not everyone is me.
posted by rodgerd at 4:58 PM on July 6, 2011


They wanted a committed relationship at the time. The time when kids would be a make-or-break was a long way off, until it arrived.

It's not how I'd do it, but not everyone is me.


Fair enough - I guess, to me, I wouldn't need marriage for a "committed relationship." My decision to get married was a "Ok, we know we want to spend the rest of our lives together, so let's throw a big party to celebrate it" decision. And it was the "spending the rest of our lives together" part in particular that triggered it. The commitment was already there for many years at that point. But everybody's got a different view on marriage, I guess.
posted by antifuse at 8:35 AM on July 7, 2011


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