Everyone expects there to be a party to celebrate the wedding, but a party to celebrate the divorce? That's unusual. It was announced recently that singer Jack White and model Karen Elson invited their family and close friends to a party commemorating not only their six years of marriage but also their divorce. The party, which will be in Nashville, is an effort to honor the time they shared, re-affirm their friendship and celebrate the past and future.
In a joint statement released by their rep they said, "We remain dear and trusted friends and co-parents to our wonderful children Scarlett and Henry Lee. We feel so fortunate for the time we have shared and the time we will continue to spend both separately and together watching our children grow..."
All I can say is good for them. Throwing this party is an important way to remember and hold on to the good times in their marriage, celebrating the way they were, but no longer are. In a marriage we always bring out the best and the worst in each other. While so often people become focused on the worst, Jack and Karen seem to be also focusing on the best, acknowledging what they gave each other, even if, in the end, it wasn't enough. They are moving on in appreciation and gratitude rather than being stuck in resentment and disappointment, which is testimony to their having reached true closure so they hopefully won't drag any leftover negative energy into their future relationships.
Jack has done this before, seemingly with success. After divorcing his first wife, Meg White, he worked with her. In fact, she was maid of honor when Jack married Karen. It seems that Jack puts value in his past relationships and does his best to remain connected in a positive way. So in these cases he is transforming the loss of a spouse into the gain of a friend, making what went wrong in the marriage right in a different way.
The end of a marriage is often filled with anger and the sense of failure, having a party is probably the last thing on most people's minds. I don't want to minimize that anger, which can be important and helpful in mobilizing and finding the strength to move out of a bad situation. But there is no reason to throw away everything you shared. Maybe you had six great years together, or two or twenty. Maybe you had children together. And don't forget about those good intentions and the hope you once had about spending your life with the other person.
So often in a relationship one or both people's needs aren't being met, whether they are sexual or emotional. I talk extensively about this in my book "What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship." Often, there are tools you can use to salvage a marriage in potential trouble, but sometimes the best option is to end it. In a truly ideal situation, divorcing couples, like Jack and Karen, recognize together that their union isn't working. While this is still sad, they can make a joint decision to hopefully move on and find happiness in new relationships.
By handling a divorce this way, not only are they respecting each other, but they are also respecting and making it easier for their family and friends. Divorce affects everyone, and this allows all involved to have an easier transition while they adjust to the change. Like a funeral, which is a rite of passage that allows people to come together and share their loss, this party gives people a chance to share their memories, mourn what will no longer be and know they can remain friends with both people without feeling rivalry and possible retribution.
Jack and Karen are going out on a high note of mutual respect. While this seems to be more the exception than the rule, it is a great model to strive for because not only does it free you to begin the next chapter of your life, but also allows you to hold on to the support of somebody who, at one time, played one of the most important roles in your life. In the end, the good divorce can really be good for all.
Please tune in to "Let's Talk Sex" which streams live on HealthyLife.net every last Tuesday of the month at 2 PM EST, 11 AM Pacific. We look forward to listener call-in questions, dealing with relationships, intimacy, family, and friendships, at 1.800.555.5453.
Follow Dr. Jane Greer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrJaneGreer