Unless you live on Mars, you know that Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from Kris Humphries after a mere 72 days of not-so-wedded bliss. She credits “getting caught up in the hoopla” for the early demise of her union to the NBA star.

I do not consider a reality television super star a shining example of normal in life or divorce, but the fact that her announcement is NOT surprising does represent the new normal for marriage. More than 50% of the time, marriage is temporary, and there is now a trend to actually commemorate and celebrate its temporary status. We expect it to end prematurely, and many modern vows reflect this shift. It is no longer till death does us part but as long as love lasts. This implies we have no impact on love lasting, which of course is not true.

My parents are divorced, and, as a result, I also believed marriage was temporary until I met my husband, Victor. I married when I was in my mid 30’s and inherited three angry teenage boys in the process. It was the hardest job I ever loved and without consciously working on making and keeping it good, we would not have made it. As a therapist, I understand the myriad of psychological reasons couples divorce, but celebrating it seems counter intuitive. It strikes me that people want the party and the status but are less interested in the work and compromise required.

As a country, we love our rituals and ceremonies. Across the country, divorce celebrations are becoming more commonplace, like weddings or house warming parties. However, the U.S. is not alone in our need to create a ceremony of closure when a marriage ends. Divorce ceremonies gained momentum in Japan after the massive March earthquake and tsunami. Unhappy couples reassessed their marriages at such a fervent rate that it spawned the creation of a new industry. The ceremony to commemorate transitioning back into single life costs 55,000 yen ($690), which includes a buffet meal and ends with the ritual of smashing the wedding rings with a gavel.

When Jack White from the White Stripes and his wife Karen Elson decided to divorce, they sent out ornate, wedding-like invitations and threw a huge, celebratory bash. Their joint press release read, “We remain dear and trusted friends and co-parents to our wonderful children, Scarlett and Henry Lee. We feel so fortunate for the time we have shared and the time we will continue to spend both separately and together watching our children grow. In honor of that time shared, we are throwing a divorce party. An evening together in Nashville to re-affirm our friendship and celebrate the past and future with close friends and family.”

I am in total support of amicable divorces and was excited to see a trend that considered the children. I praised the fabulous party idea in an earlier blog. My husband, Victor, took issue with the blog and his insightful comment inspired me to reconsider my position. He wrote, “I think the notion of preventing collateral damage is extremely important when it comes to divorces involving kids. If the divorced couple commits themselves to making sure their egos don’t get in the way of the greater good, which is the healthy development of the kids, then their actions will speak very clearly and over time will be understood and appreciated by the kids as they grow older.

A ‘party’ celebrating the divorce sends a different message and instead sounds narcissistic to me. Sorry, can’t buy this one. The Tao speaks of the most effective leader being the one who’s leadership is least noticed. Likewise, a successful parting is the one where the commitment to the welfare of the kids speaks volumes over a superficial event. Besides, do people get married with the intention of divorcing? I don’t think so. Choices like these are never joyful even if relief is a byproduct, but they happen and they require healing and learning from the experience. Leave the parties to birthdays and holidays.” Vic’s comment was good food for thought.

Now I am interested in your thoughts. Do you believe people still enter marriage with long-term intentions? Is divorce sought too quickly as a solution? As a society, has our collective idea of marriage as a life-long commitment changed?

Please drop a comment here and share your thoughts and experiences.

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  1. Divorce rate is still high in North America (about 50%)

    As for the Kim Kardashian+Kris Humphries reality TV marriage… it’s a publicity stunt or hoax. It’s sad that in our societies, people know more about them than about achievements and research in science and technology.

    In the 72 day marriage, they both made $17.9 million, that’s $248,611.11 a day

    The decent thing to do would be to donate a certain amount of $$, start a divorce fund for couples who need to get a divorce but cannot afford to pay lawyers, donate to food banks as the number of food banks use is on the rise.

    But, I don’t expect Kim Kardashian to do the right thing.


  2. I believe people do not really think about the meaning of marriage, when they join lives. In the long history of man, only in the last 300-400 years, has the government taken on the role of registering a marriage and that was for property and taxation issues. To me, marriage takes place in the heart and mind. Now we marry in a church, before God, and divorce in courts. So, which is the REAL marriage, the one in God’s eyes? or the registration through the government? I think people think the piece of paper is all they need to consider when in fact they should consider the commitment made before God which should be the glue which holds the marriage together. I believe the divorce cereemony is a good idea….IF the children are old enough and allowed to participate in a way which adds to their understanding and acceptance that change is taking place and that is not always bad. I am now 58, and if I were ever to “marry” again, it won’t need to be in a church but will be before God. I have dropped my ego at the door so to speak and only feel a need to share my heart, taxes and possesions…and satisfying someone elses idea of what marriage should be, is no longer an issue. PEACE

  3. I married at 23 (currently 27). My hubby and I were together for 4 years before we decided to marry and since I have dated a lot as a teen, I was well aware knowing I was marrying my best friend. Our marriage however was tested 6 months after we got married when my in laws got too much involved. I believe it’s important to know the family you are marrying into. I think that is a big cause–at least for me. Numerous times I had to remind myself why I was married and to whom and to have faith and not give up. I’m in it forever! I think if people think more of who their married to and their drama and consider what other people involved might be getting into then perhaps people might reconsider getting a divorce. It’s not worth the aggravation and expense. I couldnt imagine being with anyone else.

    Today I think society gives up easily. Marriage will always be tested and it’s up to both individuals to stay strong, communicated and respect one another and each others thoughts. Listening is important. Like I said people give up too easily. The only time one should consider divorce if their spouse commits a crime or cheats or is abusive and dangers others otherwise were in it til death do us part!

  4. Relationship is a very difficult manifestation in external reality, most of us do not truly understand, “what it means to be in relationship”.

    We take our clues from the ever present fantasy of romance and intrigue, where the hero and the heroine finally overcome adversity, get married, ride off into the sunset,…where supposedly they live happily ever after… A difficult starting point to say the least,.. I would say.

    Successful relationship is formed on the conscious consideration of the other, rather than the ever present selfish needs of the selfish “I”, who is actually, in reality, legion. “When the two become one, neither male nor female” is the herald of higher being, where the self is replaced by “the team”. If we take this to the external reality of physical relationship, and the two become one, it must be based on external consideration of the other… Otherwise, the “Ego’s” will have their day in court, and all that once was… will be destroyed.

    Real love and consequently relationship, begins with consideration for ones “neighbour”, and I mean this in the esoteric sense of the word…

  5. Lawyers love divorces because that’s where they make money. How much do they make out of anyone getting married? Perhaps society has got it back to front. In some parts of the world divorce requires two years separation including counseling designed to achieve reconciliation. If getting wed required a two year Court supervised training course maybe less people would fall into wedlock without seriously considering what marriage really entails.

  6. Hi Terri

    love the blog I got married six years ago to my soul mate and it is the most important relationship and commitment in my life. Marriage takes hard work every day with the first year being the hardest with learning how to live, share and work together. But I have loved every single minute of it. on another note love to do a piece on your work for my weekly news paper column. sending you lots of love

  7. For me the only reason to get married is to use that forever commitment to go deeper and build great things. Its the sturdy foundation that allows marriages to feed the rest of our lives. But I also think that there are times to part ways. My mother divorced my father when she became schitzophrenic. My father says he would have stayed with her even though she was abusive and really a danger to us at the time. I am glad she divorced him.

    My husband and I talked a lot about “what happens when we change” before we got married. What we created out of those talks is a marriage that will change with us and an understanding of certain things that will never change.

    I think many people don’t have the tools to work through relationship problems but that isn’t new. Before unhappy marriages stayed intact for appearances and now as it becomes more socially acceptable to divorce that the only thing many people know to do.

  8. Hi Emmy and thank you for your insightful response. It seems that the cultural norms in the Netherlands are very different than the states. I hope the tides turn here to a more thoughtful stance on marriage. Please keep in touch!
    Love Love Love

  9. I got married two years ago (after being together for 8 years with my dear now-husband) and we got married for the long run, with the intention to stay together.

    I think people shouldn’t stay together if their marriage is not working, however I think that people in the current times don’t always work as hard to make their relationship work and last.

    In the Netherlands getting married is not as much a trend I believe as it might be in the USA and divorce is not something people party about over here. At least let be more precise: people first live together for quite some years before they decide to get married at least the people in my own circle, not sure about the rest of the Netherlands. I noticed that many of my friends in the USA (who are from the USA) get married quite soon, when they are just involved in a relationship with someone. I see the same (and more intensely so) happening in the media. Too fast at times in my opinion for how can you know if the relationship works if you don’t have ever lived together, the period where you really get to know one another….for longer then one year for instance.

    Ny parents in law seperated last year after being together for over 20 years. They did send everyone in the family a card to express their gratitude of the time they had together and to explain their decision to everyone. It was the first time ever that I got a card like this, though off course we as direct relatives were already informed about their decision.

    There was (I I think rightly so for I share your husband sentiments) no party. Yet I love the fact that they decide to inform people in such a loving clear way about their decision. They partly did this also because it was very tiring for them to tell the same story again and again when people phoned them, shocked about the news of their divorce. In this way they could send a message to the world together, well thought out with space to express their feelings and everyone was really touched by how my husband parents dealt with their divorce. (me included)

    They really made a well informed decision after struggling for many years to make their marriage work and they still have good contact with one another.

    Fond regards!

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