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Is “Happy Divorce” a Thing?

And if there are really no tears, no heartache, and we can remain friends–is divorce really the most healing and whole option?

Is a happy divorce possible?

The couple on screen clinks their champagne glasses: “Happy divorce!”

They began the weekend a married couple and have managed to divorce amicably, Inside Edition reports. It’s one of the principles of Divorce Hotel, where the couple has booked separate rooms, of course. A mediator there explains, “You come here, you know how long it’s going to take, you know how much it’s going to cost, and you leave your marriage on a positive note.”

When things get heated during their mediation, one spouse goes for a massage, the other for golf. At the end of the weekend? Signed papers and separate lives.

At first glance, doesn’t this seem like a toast-worthy experience? No knock-down, drag-outs in a public court. Minimal venom spewed over custody arrangements. For anyone who’s walked through the living hell of a cutthroat divorce, this does indeed sound like a spa treatment. Easy. Relatively relaxing, even.

The couple referred to above stated that their goal, at the end of the weekend, was to be friends. But what if, instead, something died?

What if divorce was the removal of something living, precious? Is it really a win for the children who just lost their parents’ marriage–especially considering the troubling statistics (like those concluding children of divorce will have more difficulties than if there were a death in the family)?1

Our era of memes and status updates can lure us into an acceptance–even a celebration–of happy endings to marriages. We might be moved by the stories that bring couples to Divorce Hotel, or just divorce. After all, what heartache must bring someone to the point of “I can’t be married to this guy anymore”?

Is “happy divorce” really a thing? Can anyone really just walk away? And if there are really no tears, no heartache, and we can remain friends–is divorce really the most healing and whole option?

Paul Miller suggests that we long for intimacy, but become overwhelmed by the work of love. He speaks of a “modern myth that says, ‘Love is a feeling. If the feeling is gone, love is gone.’” He elaborates,

Because our culture makes feeling happy the goal, when our feelings are negative, when we experience the cost of love, we think that something has gone wrong, that we’re not being true to ourselves.

…Once we discover that the other person is deeply flawed, we often pull back, thinking everything is wrong. A bad marriage is one where neither spouse does the hard work of love. But as soon as one spouse begins to do [faithful, enduring love “without an exit strategy”], the bad marriage disappears.2

Maybe you find yourself in a broken place, flirting with the cavernous loss of your marriage, and wondering if you should check into the Divorce Hotel. Might you be open to an alternate solution? FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember®  is also a weekend getaway–and yes, with a bit of relaxation scheduled in. But the goal of this particular weekend is for you to come away stronger, more committed, with practical tools in place–perhaps even finding love in your marriage again. Thousands of couples have left this weekend with renewed connectedness and statistically overwhelming degrees of greater satisfaction in their marriages.3

What if your marriage doesn’t need to die? It’s hard to put a price on saving your marriage. And our hunch is that you’ll find this worth it.


Copyright © 2018 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

1. Emery, Robert E. Marriage, Divorce and Children’s Adjustment. Sage Publications, 1988.
2. Miller, Paul. A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway (20140.
3. On average, couples entering the Weekend to Remember® enter rating their marital satisfaction at a 4 on a scale of 1-10. The average couple leaves with a satisfaction at 8 on a scale of 1-10.

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