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Changing the Stigma of Divorce, One Divorce Registry at a Time

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Back in January of this year, UK department store Debenhams launched the first in-store divorce registry, creating quite the stir among the Web. This concept of the newly single registering for gifts post-divorce was met with both support and criticism. There were individuals who expressed disgust - believing the divorce registry signifies the celebration of the end of a marriage and trivializes the seriousness of divorce. Yet, others, especially those directly affected by divorce, saw the registry as a way to receive a little help with the rebuilding process - not a celebration of the end of a marriage but more about friends and family showing the support people need during such a difficult time.

Almost half of all marriages end in divorce. Most of us are affected by divorce in one way or another, whether we are a child of divorce, know a friend or family member getting divorced, or have been through a divorce ourselves. We know that no one wants to publicize the fact that they are getting divorced. No one storms into a store and says, "I'm getting divorced and my ex took the furniture so I'm here to buy a new couch," or "My divorce was just finalized, help me find a new wardrobe so I can look my best." Why don't people do this? It's because we still attach such a negative stigma to divorce. Divorcees are plagued by feelings of shame and embarrassment. We get divorced, but we want to hide it. We don't want to tell anyone.

Yet, with divorce becoming such a common life transition, why should anyone have to be ashamed of or embarrassed by going through one? Perhaps if we recognized divorce as an equally life-changing event as we do birth, marriage, and death, it would lessen the feelings of shame and embarrassment felt by so many, thus shifting the tone of divorce to a more positive one.

We need to support and accept the divorce registry, because it offers practical help during a challenging time experienced by so many. Additionally, it helps the newly divorced in three significant ways.

1) Divorcees need stuff after a split. When two individuals marry, they combine two households of stuff, open a wedding registry and receive even more stuff. When a couple divorces, they lose a lot of necessary household items, most likely half of their stuff. A divorce registry allows divorcees to replace the essentials while also including some feel-good items that are well deserved.

2) Friends and family often want to get involved and help, but usually don't know what to do or say. When one of our friends or family members finds themselves going through a divorce, we are often at a loss for words. What can we say to make it better? How can we help them get through it? Does he or she even want to talk about it? A divorce registry offers a positive solution to this common problem and allows friends and family to be part of the rebuilding process.

3) Divorce registries alleviate some of the financial burden associated with divorce. Divorce is expensive! From legal bills to moving costs, couples going through divorce always have to pay up. Chipping in to replace some of what they lost can go a long way. While your loved one is dealing with lawyers, realtors, child care services and more, you can help refurnish his or her home and make starting over an easier transition.

Perhaps there are still those out there who are not quite ready for the divorce registry, but we think it's time. We strongly side with the positive view of the divorce registry. At DivorceCandy, our mission is not to trivialize the serious nature of divorce, but to embrace its lighter and more practical sides. The divorce registry does exactly that. It does not celebrate the end of a marriage. Rather, it acknowledges the serious loss that takes place and encourages family and friends to come together out of love to help others begin to heal and rebuild.

Although the Internet boasts endless gift registry and wish list sites, there are no divorce registries. Practically every other occasion has one: birth, graduation, Christmas, marriage, even random birthdays. There are lifestyle registries, cash registries and more generic registries, too. So many of these registries capitalize on an individual's wants, but a divorce registry focuses on people's needs after a traumatic loss. And like many of the other registries mentioned, the divorce registry marks a rite of passage, the start of something new. Doesn't this life transition merit its own registry, too?

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