There are four things everyone will tell you about divorce: 1) It's a descent into hell; 2) it's better than a bad marriage; 3) you need to put the kids first, and 4) it's less costly if you use a mediator.
But here are five things no one mentions:
- Other marriages aren't that great, either. A friend who recently ended a 30-year marriage said wonderingly, "One cousin offered a quick 'I'm sorry' before starting to quiz me on the logistics. Which spouse was moving out? Was my lawyer a hardass? How did we tell the kids? It turned out he was only a month or two behind me."
Some unions are on shaky ground even though no one's admitting it. I have a friend whose husband asked her not to have dinner with me after my marriage failed -- he thought my issues "might be catching."
- Everyone's a therapist. Many of your loved ones truly believe that your problem has a simple solution; that they know it; and that you want to hear it. "By the time I announce I'm getting divorced, I've already spent years trying not to get divorced," another friend pointed out. "At this point, telling my wife 'I love you' is not going to fix it."
- Everyone will become obsessed with your sex life. Your mother, your dry cleaner and the stranger in the next office will all want to know if you're getting laid, or getting laid more often. As if that wasn't weird enough, a surprising number of people will assure you that you're going to get laid more often. This may be great news, but it's not a discussion you want to have with the UPS man.
- Finding new sexual partners will not be a problem. As it happens, the UPS man is right: sex is easier to come by than ever. Most divorced folks are fleeing relationships that, in later years at least, were sadly lacking in physical activity. We're not desperate -- we've learned to live happily without sex if needed -- but we're certainly willing to entertain attractive offers.
- Finding new sexual partners will not solve your problems. "I had a spreadsheet full of phone numbers and a pocket full of Viagra," recalled one 60-year-old man. "My friends thought I had it made, but I'm too old to bullshit myself that sex can replace intimacy."
The good news is, there is life after divorce. The bad news is, you need to figure out what you want in order to get it.