10/12/2012 02:43 pm ET Updated Dec 12, 2012

Yes, It Even Happened to Emily Post...

We know her as the icon of perfect manners, wedding etiquette and the final word on proper social conduct; therefore, I'd always assumed Emily Post was a very conventional, detail oriented person with a perfect, privileged life. While researching divorce etiquette, I was astonished to learn I had Emily all wrong.

True, she was born into a privileged life on October 27, 1872. She met her to-be-husband as a debutant at an elegant NYC ball. Soon afterwards, at the age of 20, she had her dream wedding followed by a honeymoon traveling the continent. The couple settled in New York and started a family. Sounds idyllic, right?

It was no fairytale. According to The Emily Post Institute:

In 1905, after one of Edwin's extramarital affairs became a form of public humiliation for Emily, she decided she had endured enough inequalities in her marriage. Shortly thereafter, she divorced Edwin, remaining unmarried for the rest of her life.

Emily "cocooned" for a while, healing from broken dreams and an authoritative husband who'd discouraged her creative talents and interests. Then, despite society's stance that well-bred women should not work, Emily began her writing career. She started with romantic stories and then became a "traveling correspondent," crossing the US and touring Europe on the eve of World War I.

In 1922 she wrote her first book of etiquette despite the fact she was known to have said, "Domestic details bore me." The rest is history.

So, the next time you feel challenged by being -- or getting -- unmarried, ask yourself: "What would Emily Post say?" And remember, way back in 1905, Emily embraced it as the road to liberation and creativity. And she became an icon.

Oh, and kudos to the Emily Post Institute for wanting us to know the whole story behind this remarkable woman!