Dissolution of marriage ends with tears and memories

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Our culture has many conventions surrounding one’s wedding day.  Depending on your ethnicity, you might spend one to five days commemorating the before, during, and after of a nuptial ceremony.

Here in America, we have certain expectations about the rehearsal dinner, the wedding itself, and the reception that follows. Social mores dictate how we behave, what we wear, what we eat and drink, and how we celebrate the joining of two people in matrimony.

Our culture has many conventions surrounding one’s wedding day.  Depending on your ethnicity, you might spend one to five days commemorating the before, during, and after of a nuptial ceremony.

Here in America, we have certain expectations about the rehearsal dinner, the wedding itself, and the reception that follows. Social mores dictate how we behave, what we wear, what we eat and drink, and how we celebrate the joining of two people in matrimony.

Completely missing are customs surrounding one's divorce day. Usually it is not an event to which loved ones are invited; neither is it conducted as an outward sign to the community. Rather, it is typically a private occasion from which neither bang nor whimper is heard.

Looming large on the calendar for the past few weeks, my divorce day finally arrived. As prearranged, the Missus and I met outside the judge’s chambers 20 minutes before our scheduled hearing. In the empty hallway, we shared a good cry and soothing words as the minutes ticked down.

At the appointed hour however, the courtroom remained locked and dark; we were in the wrong place. Hightailing it to the opposite side of the building, we found the courtroom where we had been reassigned.

A businesslike and apparently overworked functionary looked over my wife's paperwork, making sure she and the court were literally on the same page.  We sat down and waited our turn.

Of the five divorce proceedings preceding ours, four were conducted with legal representation. That is, after a plaintiff was sworn in, their lawyer asked a series of questions officially stating the facts of the matter—when the marriage took place, their residency within the court's jurisdiction, the date on which the plaintiff and defendant ceased living as man and wife, and confirmation the bonds of matrimony had been severed with no reasonable hope of reconciliation.

Most of the plaintiffs were stoic in their testimony.  Arriving at last at this sobering destination, all of them looked decidedly weary.

At last the Missus was called. Following a court-provided script, she entered into the record the details of our wedlock’s beginning and end, choking on the declaration there was no hope for it to continue. The judge gently pronounced his decision to sign the decree of divorce and wished her well.

Grabbing her purse and coat, I met her as she exited the docket. In the hall we shared another good cry, followed by a cup of coffee at a shop across the street. She bought.

As mentioned before, there's a dearth of social cues on how one should spend their divorce day. I'm sure for those exiting an unhappy relationship it is probably a cause for relief.  For most, I suspect it is a day of reflection on how it all came to this.

For the Missus, the event likely brought a sense of liberation, as she is looking forward to moving on with her new life.  Still trying to let go of the life that once was, I wish I better knew just how that is done.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com.