In my many years of family law practice, I have found that many spouses, especially the one who has been left behind, have a hard time letting go and moving forward. I recently represented a man who had a fairly long-term marriage. The relationship, including the marriage, was over 20 years. The couple had problems-no question about it, but when the divorce was final, my client found it difficult to move on. He was angry, bitter, felt that his wife had lied and deceived him, especially about some financial issues, for a number of years.
He had some thoughts that I would like to share with you. I have always been a big believer in journal writing going through a divorce, but he suggested that we take it one step further. His thought was to put everything on paper and just write it away. It starts with an invitation: You are cordially invited to a funeral celebrating the death of a beautiful 20-year-relationship. I've always said that a divorce is a legal death, but there is also the emotional aspect that has to be dealt with. My client felt that his wife stuck a knife in his heart. He went on to state that he shares part of the blame for the problems because of his behavior and now understands the consequences of some of his actions.
His suggestion is that there be a formal funeral. The funeral would not be celebrating, but commemorating the death of a marriage. My client would welcome friends and relatives to the cemetery. He would then state that today "we will be burying the knife that was thrust into my heart, killing my love of over 20 years with my wife." He would then dig a hole. There would be pallbearers carrying the knife and his wedding picture. He would then bury the knife along with the wedding picture. After the funeral and burial, there would be refreshments.
The suggestion was to have a religious official present-I don't know if this is possible.
I do know that most major religions do have some type of ceremony or process for ending a marriage from a religious stand point. These include the GET in Judaism, an annulment in Catholicism and other similar religions, an Islamic divorce, just to name three examples that come to mind.
The final act at the cemetery or perhaps in a backyard where the burial is taking place would be to erect a gravestone or monument or plaque saying "RIP - Here lies what was once a great relationship, lived and loved Fred and Mary Smith", and the date of the demise. The husband thought he would say a few words to his friends about what caused the death of his marriage, and also passing on words of wisdom to share with others so that perhaps, as he learned from the experience, others might learn and not suffer the same fate that his marriage did.
He then passed on some words of wisdom to me that I would like to share with others here at the Huffington Post. These are some key points that are needed for a good and healthy marriage:
1. Honesty. A married couple needs to be honest to share their lives and feelings without worrying what the other partner thinks. I would add that there should be honesty, but there has to be sensitivity to the thoughts and needs of the partner as well.
2. Sharing. This is an important factor. Sharing the good and bad, especially of emotional feelings. This means your inner-most thoughts. You can't be ships passing in the night or soon, you actually will be.
3. Financial Reality. This is the ability to talk about money and how to use it. In my many years of practice, I have seen so many marriages go over the edge because of economic problems. There should be the ability to talk about money freely and openly. If there are spending issues, these should be dealt with. If there are credit card debts going into a marriage, these should be discussed. If someone has a problem in dealing with money, this should be dealt with either through communication, or if necessary through counseling or even credit counseling.
4. Compromise. This is a good one. Too many marriages have the attitude that it's "my way or the highway". In a good marriage, each partner has to be willing to give up what he or she wants at times, without making the other partner feel that her or she hurt the other one. In my friend's marriage, one of the partners had to be in charge and was unwilling to compromise. I've seen control and issues over control being major issues leading to a divorce, so compromise is critical. Try to put yourself in the your spouse's shoes and try to see things from his or her perspective.
5. Truly love your spouse. Don't put the other one down for saying or thinking something. Don't put yourself first. Try and put your spouse first. Try to understand your spouse's needs. Think before you act. Think before you speak. Try to build up the other spouse and not put the other spouse down.
These are key issues. Perhaps if more couples worked harder to make their marriage work or enhance their marriage, they would not be going through a divorce, a psychological funeral and having to figure out How do I let go and move on? What are your thoughts. Share them.