Reflections, newsworthy items, and inspiring thoughts from author and award-winning radio commentator Jessica Bram.
Getting up early Saturday morning? You’ll find me at 7:13 a.m. being interviewed live on WTNH Channel 8 in Connecticut. I’ll be speaking about Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey. Divorce, it seems, has not gone out of style.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee and join me.
Now that was annoying.
The author being interviewed, who just came out with a book called In Spite of Everything, went on to argue that Gen-Xer’s, so many of whom were the children of divorce, are staying married longer because they don’t want to do to their children what was done to them.
This really ticks me off. Like we didn’t want to stay married? Like we DIDN’T try to make it work?
Or maybe I was just jealous because she got her book on the Today Show, and I didn’t.
Someone told me recently that she typed a paragraph from Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey to send to a friend. It’s on page 250, and I thought I would share it with you again here:
I tell my friends, who feel trapped in bad marriages but terrified of divorce, to fear not. Divorce means a second chance, or maybe even a third or fourth chance, at happiness. Divorce is not the problem but a solution, when all else fails, to irreparable marital unhappiness. Facing a divorce, calling a spade a spade, minimizing one’s losses, cashing in the chips when the alternative is to lose it all – whatever one wants to call it – is one of the most adult, responsible actions a person can take in life. Facing up to divorce means no longer allowing oneself to regret the past or whine about the present. Divorce means taking that first constructive action, no matter how hard, expensive, or demoralizing that can be, toward building a new future. Not just for oneself, but for one’s children as well. Because children deserve to live in a home of peace, loving feelings, and tranquility.
If you are in the neighborhood of Greenwich, Connecticut next Wednesday, January 26, please come to my talk and book signing at the Greenwich Arts Council at 299 Greenwich Avenue at 7:30 pm. A relaxed and casual conversation will follow my talk, and the event is free.
I came across an interesting article in Life and Health Advisors Online by Lili Vasileff, CFP, CDFA, president of Divorce and Money Matters, LLC, and President of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners. In “Are gray divorces exploding?” Lili explored the financial and social ramifications of what is reputed to be a growing trend among Baby Boomers like Tipper and Al Gore for late-in-life divorces.
I found the article thought-provoking, especially since I have quite a few friends who have recently fallen into this category.
Although divorce at any age is rarely without pain, late life divorce is that it is immeasurably easier because child custody issues are not involved. But mostly I’m glad to be reminded that even in one’s late fifties and sixties (the current demographic for Baby Boomers, hard as that is for this Baby Boomer to believe), there is still the opportunity for a great many happy and fulfilled years ahead. I was especially reminded of this not long ago when, after speaking to a group of seniors, a couple in their mid-80’s introduced themselves to say that after late life divorces for each of them, they had been now been happily remarried to each other 32 years.
My only quibble with the article? Calling these divorces “grey.” For a lot of us in this age group, “grey” is something easily taken care of.
I’m just saying.
I’ll be speaking about Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey in Denver, Colorado this Friday, Aug. 13 at 7 pm, at a get-together of the Wildflower Women’s Foundation. They are an organization created by women to support women in the transitions of divorce and widowhood.
I love the name of their organization – don’t you? – wildflowers being those things that somehow manage to bloom beautifully, no matter where they are scattered by wind or circumstance.
If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by. Admission is only $10 an all proceeds benefit the Wildflower Women’s Foundation.
Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey hit #6 in the Divorce category on Amazon’s Bestselling Books today, which must explain why I’ve been recently receiving a whole lot of e-mails from appreciative readers. That’s the absolutely, undeniably best thing about having had a memoir published – knowing that one’s own experience has given a moment of encouragement or comfort to someone else.
But sometimes it works the other way around: I find enormous validation when someone puts in words the very thing that I myself have thought and felt. Here’s my reply to a reader who wrote to me yesterday, describing her feeling of powerlessness to leave her marriage for her children’s sake:
I was so glad to hear from you, and thank you for writing. Let me just say to you that the situation you describe is EXACTLY where I was for most of my marriage – certainly since I had children. When one of our biggest fights erupted in his saying “I’m sick of hearing you’re unhappy in this marriage, Jessica. If you want a divorce, go get a divorce!” my answer was “I can’t. I have three children.”
It was as simple as that – or so I thought. So I know exactly where you are coming from.
I also completely identified with your sentence “I have wanted a divorce for so long I can’t remember not wanting one.” Wow, that was me for nineteen years.
First, I want to let you know that my book is not at all a “light-hearted look at divorce”. Divorce is never light-hearted. There were lots of very tough moments, including guilt about “taking my children away from their father”. But the point of the book is that my actual experience, once I faced the fact that the marriage had to end, was not only not nearly as bad as I had expected it to be, but we all actually thrived and did fine afterward. The stories in Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey are about things like learning I could love my alone time, learning that I enjoyed my time alone with my children, the thrill and terrors of learning to stand on my own two feet in lots of ways, and eventually dating and finding love again. (I just remarried: did you see the NY Times Vows article?)
I don’t tell anyone what to do in the book. I just recount my own stories, and I think people figure out how to make that apply to themselves.
I hope you read it, and especially, I hope that it helps you find the courage to claim your happiness. You deserve it. And it’s what your children want for you, truly.
Keep in touch, and let me know how it’s going.
A reporter/producer from CNN.com called me yesterday afternoon to find out why I thought couples who have been married 30 or 40 years get divorced. As author of Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey, I’m now considered some kind of authority on divorce.
As though I knew anything about anyone’s divorce besides my own. Which I do not.
The reason for her call, I later realized, was the surprise announcement that after 40 years of marriage, Tipper and Al Gore are filing for divorce. Being at least a few news cycles behind, I completely mis-heard when she asked what I thought about the Gore’s breakup. I could SWEAR I heard her say John and Elizabeth Edwards. That was the only long-time married couple I knew of whose marriage problems came to light not that long ago.
Silly me. I now realize that “not that long ago” is the equivalent of “about a century ago” in today’s rapid-fire news world.
So like a complete media dolt I went on to give the reporter my thoughts about the breakup of John and Elizabeth Edwards. Look, I said, sometimes even good marriages just run their course. They were, after all, very united in their support of his political future. I’m sure her illness was a stress factor on the marriage. (This met with complete silence from the reporter, who was probably frantically Googling “Tipper Gore illness” to see whether she had missed something.) The fact that they are now getting a divorce, I said, doesn’t mean their entire marriage was invalid. People grow apart, even after 40 years.
And sure enough, there I am, quoted in the article.
She did find it interesting when I posed that when a very long-term marriage ends in divorce, my experience is that it’s usually the wife who decides to make her move. Women grow, they change, and they find their strengths, especially when they put child-raising behind them. Men settle in.
Truth be told, I was feeling more than a little uncomfortable about being asked to gossip about someone’s else’s divorce. I don’t know the first thing about Tipper and Al, (or, for that matter, Elizabeth and John.) Who am I to speculate? Who is anyone?
The funny thing is, I realize now that it doesn’t matter whom I was talking about. Because in my mind, just about everything I did say applies to the Edwards, the Gores, or just about anyone else who have decided to end a marriage.
I believe that there really is a time for every purpose under heaven. Why does the end of a marriage have to carry the stigma of blame? Why the suggestion of failure?
Give them a break. Let’s just hope they find happiness on whatever separate paths might lie ahead of them.
Still, it’s a good thing I didn’t say anything about Rielle Hunter.