The Fourth of July holiday will be here before we know it. Celebrating our country’s founding became a federal holiday in 1941, but the commemoration has been observed by Americans in some form going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. The day is associated with fireworks, baseball, backyard barbeques, parades, small-town functions and more. It is the ultimate summer holiday which all in the US should make a point to enjoy.
Another Independence Day is one of a personal nature. It has to do with people who recognize the day their divorce was finalized and celebrate it with a party or in another way. Some decide to observe their newfound independence from their spouses with a joyful gathering of friends and family, a cruise, a divorce cake, burning the marriage certificate or even creating a list of songs that one loves but the ex hated. There is even a shirt available for purchase online that announces Happy Independence, Divorce Decree Day! There are travel agents and party planners who specialize in helping people wanting to commemorate their “rebirth” with a one-time event or annual “divorceaversary.”
Even though divorce celebrations are real, fortunately there does not seem to be an upward trend toward this somewhat tasteless custom. Marking the end of a marriage with the same glee as a fun holiday is like celebrating the closing of a failed business or making light of a deceased relative. Children, young or old, can be easily upset when a parent toasts the dismantling of the family unit. Those close to the former nuclear family can also feel unsettled by such irreverent displays. There is no question that divorce is often necessary for people to once again enjoy happiness and freedom. But there was a time when the wedded union held promise of a long togetherness; there were dreams of building a life with a spouse. Then something happened. It may have been one big thing or many little things. Whatever it was, the end of a marriage is a tragedy. That is the way it should be viewed. Throwing a party to celebrate a divorce not only mocks one’s marriage but disrespects the very institution of marriage itself. Such self-righteous celebration projects a declaration that the failure of the marriage was all the ex’s fault. A case where one spouse is all right and the other is all wrong is extremely rare.
When a divorce is finalized, a spouse may feel the need to relax with friends or take a trip to help recuperate from the exceedingly difficult life-changing event. Such a decision may be recommended, but only if it is treated as therapeutic and not celebratory. When I was married, my wife and I took dance lessons where I learned that it takes two to tango. Time has given me the wisdom to know also that it takes two to destroy a marriage. A life-changing event like a divorce should be viewed as a learning experience and not an excuse to hire a caterer and DJ.
For more information on divorce, order the book The Courtless Divorce.