David Arquette's reputation for being a little playful and unconventional seems to have spilled over into his divorce. At least the unconventional part.
On Howard Stern's Sirius XM talk show on October 24, 2011, David called in to talk to Howard about his participation on Dancing with the Stars. David's estranged wife, Courteney Cox, brings their 7-year-old daughter Coco to each show, and they sit in the audience together to cheer for Daddy. Howard took David to task about having Courteney in the audience, saying, "Tell Courteney to sit home tonight" because "She's no longer your wife...it's not her role...Your ex-wife should not be sitting there cheering you on."
David didn't buy it, responding, "I love her support!" And he's right. Courteney may not be his wife any longer, but she's the mother of his child and they spent a third of their lives together. "We've shared 15 years of an amazing marriage and friendship and that relationship is still worth preserving and respecting," David said, standing up to Howard.
Their marriage may be over, but their relationship isn't -- and it doesn't have to be. They're going to be co-grandparents, after all, so getting along and valuing their time together is an important part of getting divorced and being divorced. It's not the way it's traditionally been done -- war and scorched earth has been the "typical" way to get divorced, at least for a lot of couples. But given that about half of all marriages end in divorce, isn't it time to do things the Cox and Arquette way? "We went through a lot of stuff, and she still loves me with all of her heart and she's there to support me...People can say whatever they want," David told Howard.
And we're talking about Dancing with the Stars here, not Courteney as a 3rd wheel on a first date with a new woman. A situation like Dancing with the Stars, a public place and a situation in which both Mom and child can unite to support Dad in an activity that doesn't have anything to do with the marriage, is a perfect opportunity to show your child that although you're not married anymore, you're still united as parents and supportive of each other.
"It's a lot of fun. Courteney likes it, Coco likes it. I love [seeing them in the audience]," David said. "Let Coco show up with the nanny," Howard responded, but David disagreed. "Listen, it takes two people to end a relationship," he said, refusing to let Howard blame Courteney alone for ending the marriage.
And David's right. Understanding your own role in the breakdown of your marriage is an important part of healing. While it's tempting to simply blame the other person and trumpet yourself as the innocent party, the truth is that marriages end gradually. They erode. They don't explode. Sure, catching your spouse in bed with someone else is an explosion, or finding out that your bank account is empty because of drugs or gambling is incendiary, but the truth is that these things don't arise out of the blue. The damage which led you to this place started long before the final event which triggers the "D" word.
It's also a little unconventional that David is clear that his relationship with Courteney comes first, even if it's no longer a marital relationship. "Whoever I'm with has got to accept this relationship: that I love her and she's my best friend. We love each other. We're really dear friends with each other. I know that's hard for people to understand. But you don't have to go into battlegrounds." And he's right. It's just that the source of this wisdom is a little unexpected.
Still not convinced, Howard acknowledged that maybe they're friends now, but that inevitably it will end and at some point they'll start to have a more contentious relationship, second guessing each other's parenting styles and raising the typical co-parenting and divorce complaints.
"That's the typical way of addressing a situation like this but we don't choose to address it that way...You don't have to attack each other," David wisely schooled Howard.
Lest you think Howard is being too hard on David and Courteney, he really is a big fan of both. "I do love you, and I love Courteney," Howard said. He just thinks that Courteney sitting in the audience of "Dancing with the Stars" is weird. And Howard is right, if you define "weird" as not what most people do. But what most people do isn't necessarily correct, at least not all the time. Sometimes role model behavior is different. That's why it's considered a role model; it's the way people aspire to be rather than what they're actually doing.
"Life's too short to hold onto grudges and be weird about things. There's a different way you can approach a situation, you can be grown up, you can [choose to] not throw out 15 years of a marriage-friendship," David explained. David Arquette and Courteney Cox are definitely walking their talk and showing us how to be divorced yet cooperative co-parents and friends.
In case you missed the 1st post about Courteney Cox and David Arquette as role models for how to divorce with mutual respect and dignity, you can read the January 8, 2011 Huffington Post blog, "Cox and Arquette: Modern Divorce Role Models." They handled their initial separation and breakup as sensibly as they're handling their actual divorce.
Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana's divorce blog on the Huffington Post