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Diana Mercer

Diana Mercer

Posted: January 8, 2011 04:40 AM

Okay, let me start by saying I know that they are not getting divorced, at least not at the moment, and that they're trying to work things through with a separation.

That's actually one of the reasons that they're role models for how to figure out the whole marriage and divorce thing in a healthy way.

There are lots of things that separating couples can do to keep the peace in their divorce. The old model of scorching the earth, making your friends choose sides, and plunging yourselves into bankruptcy with attorneys fees is just that--the old model. When you do just a few simple things, all of which are free, by the way, you can reconfigure your family and be great co-parents and sometimes even friends.

But why Courteney and David? They are celebrities. Their separation is very public, yet they managed to keep it very quiet until they were (almost) ready to break the news themselves. They could have started parading around town with hot new partners and spashed themselves all over the tabloids talking smack about each other. But they didn't do that. Their separation has been as private and peaceful as possible in our celebrity gossip crazed culture. Sure, they haven't been perfect. And that's what's so great about how they're handling this: they're handling this like ordinary, reasonably mature adults, and not like celebrities.

Here's why I think they're such good role models for how people ought to handle divorce and separation:

They're putting their child first
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They're keeping Coco first and doing things as a family, even though it's (likely) painful for Courteney and David, yet not leading Coco on to think they're definitely getting back together. Kids will hold onto the idea that maybe their parents will get back together for a long, long time. It's important to have an age-appropriate explanation for what's going on. Kids also tend to like things to be concrete, black or white, so the idea that even the adults aren't sure about what's going on but that they're going to behave honorably is a valuable life lesson.
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Finally a celebrity couple that can show us how to unravel a marriage with respect and dignity. Now if the rest of us could just do the same.

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin 2010), and Your Divorce Advisor (Simon & Schuster 2001) and a mediator at Peace Talks Mediation Services, Inc.


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