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Liz O&#146Donnell

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The Secret Divorce Dreams Of Married Women

Posted: 02/28/2012 12:30 pm

I know it's a cliché. Perhaps a bit retro. But I fantasize about one day living in my dream house, complete with a white picket fence. I will grow huge blue hydrangeas and bunches of lavender against the fence. My children will play on the lawn by the garden -- at least on weekends and holidays. And my husband, he will live half a mile away, in the house where we currently reside.

I have the house and fence picked out. An elderly couple lives there now. I often plan my running route so that I pass by the front door. I call the house my divorce house. I actually have three divorce houses. Another is conveniently located just around the corner from the house with the picket fence. It is a tiny blue cottage, with a crumbling stone wall in front.

Divorce houses are the houses married women imagine moving into when we fantasize about what life would be like if we lived alone and could decorate without compromise. As I run, I mentally style every room -- at least every room that I imagine, as I've never actually been inside any of the houses.

In my mind I paint the walls bright colors, bold primaries that my husband's sensitive eyes can't seem to tolerate. From there, I usually carry out a French country theme. Sometimes I go with softer shades, pale lilacs and blues to match my garden. These are colors my husband fears, as if they could somehow jump off the wall and emasculate him. This palette lends itself well to an English country look with overstuffed, floral chintz chairs and thread bare rugs.

I have lots of rusted wrought iron and distressed wood in my divorce house. I fill the rooms with antiques -- the less practical, the better. My husband likes practical things. Like sofas covered in dark, heavy fabrics that hide stains and wear and boxy entertainment centers that store Wii controllers, Xbox Kinect games and PlayStation joysticks.

All of the houses have a fireplace and the mantel is my favorite part. Sometimes I mentally hang smoky old mirrors above it and sometimes I hang antique ceiling tins or reclaimed stained-glass windows. And in my fantasy, I actually hang these items. With nails. In the wall. I find the stud all by myself and no one supervises my work or takes the hammer away and promises to hang them for me ... sometime.

On the mantel I imagine lots of candlesticks and I never fret about wax dripping. There are no baseball bobble heads -- trophies from a fantasy sports league, and there definitely isn't a skull mug full of change that once sat on a shelf in a frat house.

No one else has ever told me they too have a divorce house, but I'm sure I'm not alone. I once made the mistake of mentioning mine at a neighborhood party and things got awkward. A few women followed up with me privately and asked me if my husband knew about the houses. I assured them he did.

"And what does he say about it?" they wanted to know.

"He says we can't afford a divorce, so keep dreaming."

That led to discussions about the cost of attorneys and the need for secret "squirrel funds" and how difficult it is for stay-at-home mothers to establish financial independence. These are things married women aren't supposed to talk about. It's too uncomfortable. One tiny seed of discontent can sow a whole field of bad dreams.

So I assure my friends that I love my husband, because I do. I actually even like him. And that is why all of my divorce houses are within walking distance of our home. It will make it easier to share custody of our children and for me to drop by from time to time -- especially during dinner so that we can still enjoy family meals and because my husband is a great cook.

Check out my divorce house on Pinterest.

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