Hey Divorce, I Found Your Groove. But I’m Not Giving it Back…

I clearly need to find a foundation that better matches my skin tone...but with those sexy arms, who the hell cares? Even Taye seems oblivious...

Twitter is all atwitter yet again about the hot topic of divorce and the New York Times, only this time, it’s not the affront to the “Vows” section embodied by my second favorite dastardly duo, Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla.

Nope, this time it’s this article:

How Divorce Lost Its Groove

Front page, salty Style section sappiness for those of us with cavernous, Grand Canyonesque wounds — and apparently, not yet enough searing pain resulting from the constant opening and closing of them. Seriously, this story was enough to make me want to punch the newspaper in the face. Repeatedly. Or whatever you do to humiliate a pompous newspaper like the New York Times (pteradactyl origami? leave it on top of a trash can at my neighborhood WalMart? visit a garage sale, purchase a Big Mouth Billy Bass and use the paper to wrap it up and store it? Just a few ideas…)

Look at cute lil' Big Mouth Billy Bass...just begging to be bathed in newsprint... (by permission from feastoffun.com, using a Creative Commons, non-commercial license)

Now, I’m no journalist (well, actually, the master’s degree on my wall may indicate otherwise…what with the word “Journalism” highlighted and all) but to be honest, this article was all over the fucking place. First, it seemed like it was going to be an “oh poor me, my friends think I have cooties” rant from us Divorceds toward the Marrieds.

That’s how it began: Divorced suburban mommies feel shunned by their friends when they announce their marital failure.

But then it drifted into an analysis of quantitative data showing how college-educated Americans have lower divorce rates.

Then it concluded with this little tidbit of crazy: Divorced women find themselves to be the envy of married friends because of our ability to go to yoga five times per week.

Anyone here remember how Scooby Doo sounded when he alarmingly uttered, “Huh?” Because that was me, goofy look and all.

Throughout the story, there was an undercurrent of ick that I just couldn’t shake. Of course, this is the New York Times, so the readership is “influential and highly engaged,” according to the publication’s media kit (read: “highfalutin, snooty and obsessed with vicariously experiencing others’ pain”).

But after failing to comprehend the article — and really, to even understand how Divorce had a “groove” in the first place — I began reading other blogs about the story. And comments on those blogs. And responses to the comments on those blogs. And when it was all said and done, here are my four take-aways from this brilliant piece of Pulitzer prize-worthy puffery:

  1. Divorce may just be catching.
  2. When I divorced, I selfishly placed my needs as a woman above my kids’ needs.
  3. Because I don’t have a peaceful divorce, I = failure.
  4. But I = groovy because I’m divorced and you suck because you aren’t.

I told you: All over the fucking place.

So let’s examine these. I’m totally interested to hear your take, so please be prepared to comment on anything that strikes your fancy.

1.Divorce is catching.

Scabies. Swine flu. Crabs. Lice. Divorce.

Nope, you’re not reading a question from a “which one doesn’t belong” SAT test, because according to this article, they all belong. That’s right, divorce may just be contagious. To wit:

“Several divorced women suggested that the news of their marital unraveling seemed to unnerve other couples in their social circles, prompting unease about their own marriages. (That anxiety may not be entirely unfounded. One study out of Harvard, Brown and the University of California, San Diego, last year found that divorce actually is contagious: when close friends break up, the odds of a marital split among their friends increase by 75 percent.)”


Thanks New York Times, thanks a lot: Not only are you reporting the news, but you’re changing lives. Do you hear that sound? It’s the “thud” of friends everywhere jumping off the support bandwagon in hoardes, the “splash” of friends abandoning ship for fear of being touched, bitten or otherwise infected by disgusting divorce spunk. (Watch out: It’s even oozing through your computer screen as you read these words…DUCK!)

Granted, I’m not part of the smarmy suburbia set like these hip chicks. Seriously, a woman in this story was quoted as saying, “I was like, just give me the hemlock.” I’d like to know: Who talks like this, anyhow? Oh, I know: the Real Divorceds of Park Slope.

But in my reality, I found quite the opposite to be true: My friends were by my side the entire time. And guess what? Not one of them contracted the disease. Yet. Though perhaps it’s slow to manifest…

Sorry, New York Times, but I will not accept that divorce is akin to lice. I don’t need to shave my head or use a tiny-tined metal comb or special soap to prevent creepy little divorce buggers from jumping from me to you.

Although, come to think of it, de-lousing was certainly a part of my personal post-divorce regimen…

2. When I divorced, I selfishly placed my needs as a woman above my kids’ needs.

Wow. There’s just so much wrong with this suggestion, I don’t even know where to begin.

So apparently, if I’m reading this article correctly, divorce got its groove in the 1970s, when the philosophy was “Screw the kids, it’s all about me-me-ME!” Women found themselves shedding their oppressive June Cleaver pearl chokers in favor of a life free of matrimonial shackles. They felt empowered (and practically entitled) to divorce. Now, however, we’re seeing the dawn of a new, helicopter-parent inspired philosophy: “My children are the center of the universe, and I will never hurt them. Therefore, I will never divorce.”

And this, my friends, is why the divorce rates are falling for the college educated. Because we’re too smart to divorce. And we wouldn’t behave that selfishly in a million, quadrillion, bazillion years…

So the lesson for me: Because I granted my Ex a divorce, I’ve irreparably hurt my children. And behaved selfishly. And forfeit my mommy card.

I’m such a dick.

3. Because I don’t have a peaceful divorce, I = failure.

OK, so let’s get something out of the way from the outset. I may be just a bit of an overachiever. I’ve already documented that I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” But what you may not know is that I was also a 4.0 student in high school. I’m a blood donor. To this day, I take EVERY birth control pill in the package — even the placebos — because I’m TOLD to do so. Hell, I was even a Homecoming Queen candidate.

Look: Another creepy blobby faceless dude, circa 1991! But at least this one had the decency to match his blob to my dress...

So you can imagine my disdain for the “F” I received for my marriage.

Now, I’ve actually earned a double F. I’m a Fucking Failure. First I failed my marriage, now I’m failing my divorce. According to the article:

“Since the 1990s, we’ve been trying to come up with a process that is more emotionally humane and accounts for the interests of children,” said Joanna Roth, a Harvard-educated lawyer in Seattle who entered divorce law after she and her husband split up. “The parents I see through this process have their children foremost in mind.”

Dr. Monet, of Mount Holyoke, and her ex-husband eat dinner together on Fridays with their 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. Birthdays and holidays are spent in each other’s company.

“Once I realized that we could raise the kids together and still be a family,” said Dr. Monet, who started a blog called Postcards From a Peaceful Divorce last year, “I realized it wasn’t divorce that’s devastating, it’s the way divorce is handled.”

When Nina Collins, 41, a former literary agent, divorced her husband, she said both her lawyer and therapist emphasized: “Divorce is completely different from when your parents split up. If your kids feel loved and they don’t see hideous behavior, they’ll be fine.”

Crappity-crap-crap-CRAP. My kids are so screwed. Make that a Triple F: Marriage. Divorce. Parenting. Just give me the hemlock, indeed…

I was already feeling depressed about the insidious germies and my self-serving, egocentric actions of actually granting my already-gone husband a divorce. Now, because I haven’t managed to be the picture of post-divorce perfection, I’m a horrible parent.

A little insight: I’d love nothing more than to have a peaceful divorce. But sadly, it takes two to tango to that tune…and I’m all alone on this divorce dance floor. Not a cooperative, peaceful partner in sight…

4. But I = groovy because I’m divorced and you suck because you aren’t.

I think this was supposed to be the silver lining of the piece, the Dr. Phil-esque “But wait, don’t go swallowing those razors quite yet, because there’s hope!” epiphany. I should embrace my divorce…because it has given me a new lease, new opportunities to become sleek and drink carrot juice and practice tantric sex with hot young male yogis.

Wow. Thank you, Divorce! I couldn’t have done it without you…

Wait a sec, though: It occurs to me that I haven’t done it. Not a drop of carrot juice, not a single yogi tantric sexcapade. In fact, not even a single yoga session, to be perfectly honest. Nope, I’ve been too busy with work, and children, and healing, and trying to blaze a brand new, post-brick trail. I realize that some women find themselves totally dedicated to themselves in this new world order, but I’ve been a bit preoccupied with haircuts and pecker tiaras and court cases and poop dreams and blog stalkers.

So forgive me if I don’t feel grateful for the ability to do yoga five days a week.

And ironicaly, as it turns out, I had more time for tantric yoga when I was in my (delusional) marriage, a hallmark of which was cooperative co-parenting. Dammit…shoulda grabbed that dangling carrot when I coulda…

Anyhow, I’m perplexed by the piece. AND I’m kinda pissed, because in order to understand the nuance of this story, I actually bought How Stella Got Her Groove Back, watched it…and hated it. Hated Angela and her stupid biceps. Hated Taye and his glowing teeth. Hated the happily-ever-after message and the predictable airport proposal.

But more than anything else, I hate that this New York Times piece serves to undermine what little confidence us “Divorceds” may still have.

So now, I turn my attention to you my amazing readers and away from the New York Times and Bassett’s biceps: In your experience (or, for those of you inexperienced in the art of divorce-war, your observations of the experiences of your cooty-infested divorced friends), do you believe that we should believe the aforementioned take-aways? I’d love to hear of your experiences with friends, selfish pangs, feelings of FFFailure and/or how LUCKY you feel to be divorced and carelessly gyming it five days a week.

And in the meantime, if Divorce wants her groove back, she can go fuck herself. Because I’m keeping it, dammit.

93 thoughts on “Hey Divorce, I Found Your Groove. But I’m Not Giving it Back…

  1. monicastangledweb says:

    The article seems to be written by someone who has yet to experience the pain of divorce. So, I’d like to inform him that there’s absolutely no way you can put the kids first when the agony of divorce initially strikes. It takes time to heal and there is an overwhelming need to take care of yourself first. You do the best that you can, and try to care for the kids the best way, but ultimately you have to fix yourself, your insides, your self esteem or you’ll be worthless to the kids. I know I was for a while. And yes, I carried that guilt and it took someone to tell me to , snap out of it, because the kids needed me. But I needed that time for myself. Hard to explain and that article pisses me off that I have to explain.

    Is divorce contagious? Absolutely not. You either have a good marriage or you don’t. 50% don’t, it’s a given. But only because marriage is so hard to work at.

    So, Mikalee, as someone who’s been through it, please know that it does get better. Time heals. My ex was a jerk for many years, but it took me a long time to get over him being able to push my buttons. Time heals, this I believe. It’s only now that we can have a conversation, without yelling. We can be civil. But here’s the best part: my kids are grown, so I no longer need to talk to him at all! Only on very rare occasions, once a year or less. I don’t have to see him because he now lives in another city, hundreds of miles away. So, you see, it can get better and it will. Don’t let this stupid article get to you. Not worth it. Neither is your ex. Wish I was there to give you a hug, my friend.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Oh, Monica … many thanks, friend! But I promise, I’m not too broken up about it all — it was just completely presumptuous and unrelatable to me, so I had to share! And btw, interesting side note: It was written by a female. I’m guessing, an unmarried or a married … but not a divorced. Just sayin’…

      Yes, I agree that it gets better — time does heal. I will be very grateful for the day when I no longer have (almost daily!) interactions with the Ex and his family. Just one more silly little decade to go.

  2. Rachelle Tourville Pellissier says:

    Let’s see, hmmm… I am sure that I was only thinking about myself when I found myself old, pregnant, on six weeks of bed rest, and single. Yeah, they are right, I was selfishly laying there in bed, worrying because I couldn’t take care of my 5 year-old, was pregnant, and single. Me, me, me! It was all about me! The article is right, I wasn’t able to take care of my young son (bad mom!), my family all had to take turns taking care of me and him. But, I can guarantee, there was not a yoga class in sight! On the other hand, I am happily divorced and wouldn’t go back, so I guess I am kinda groovy.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Totally groovy, Rachelle — one of the grooviest divorceds I know, in fact!!

      Yeah, you were a total selfish bitch…laying in bed all day, unable to contribute to the daily tasks of motherhood. Well, except the bun baking in your personal oven. In fact, I’m quite sure there were abundant bon bons and soaps playing 24/7. Right? NOT!


  3. christy m says:

    I have so many comments I don’t know where to begin…other than to say that sometimes divorce IS in the best interest of the children! Living in an unhealthy situation does not mean your a better parent…along with the fact that we are unable to control another’s actions. I would have loved it if I didn’t have to take my ex to court to get him to leave the house TWICE even though he had a new girlfriend and was having LOUD phone sex in the bedroom every night. If it is “catching” then it is only in the sense that it may give a friend the courage to end a horrible marriage that they were too scared to leave. I also think that people with higher education tend to be more worried about social stigma than other groups therefore less likely to divorce….I think buying into studies when it doesn’t account for individual nuances is just a waste of time. YOU and I and many other woman are dealing with what we were dealt the way we need to. I wish I had the time to go to Yoga five times a week….instead I seem to be driving to preschool, Dr. appts., Swim class, etc……Divorce is not what anyone wants…but it is unavoidable at times! You are a great Mom, from what I have read…keep it up!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Hi, Christy!

      Thanks so much for the great comment — and I totally agree: Where to even begin with this crazy story? I’m glad that you mentioned the inability of one person to control another’s actions…in many cases, based on circumstance, there’s simply no choice — what are we going to do, refuse to sign the papers? That’s really mature…and definitely is in the kids’ best interests, right? Wrong.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. Yuck. 😦

      Great point about the educated being worried about stigma. I wonder if the Harvard-educated social scientists performed a crosstab analysis factoring that into their conclusions? I’m guessing NOT!

      And thank you so much for your compliments of my mommy-ness (mommy-hood? mommy-dom?). I love my kids with all my heart — I’m so blessed. It sounds like you are, too. See — we’re TOTALLY groovy!

  4. Dana says:

    The picture that started your blog was great, I’m still lol’ing!

    I hate The Times, and the article is ridiculous. What the article fails to point out is that many people are not divorced by choice. They get a kick in the ass (my grandmother did) because of a cheating spouse. My grandmother didn’t know what hit her, while my grandfather went off and started his new life (new kid, everything). His relationship with the two kids he left was never repaired, once they were old enough to no longer ‘have’ to see him they didn’t. And many years later he did the exact same thing to his new wife, and was in a series of lame relationships up until his death a few years ago. My grandmother was able to say eventually that he did her a huge favor.

    Anyways, sorry to ramble, but your blog rocks. Can’t wait to read your book, do you know when it’s coming out? How’s the situation with the ex, still same old crap with Marilyn?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Dana, I’m so glad you appreciated my creative artwork on the movie case … tape and scissors were my friend for this one! And don’t let my bitterness fool ya: I’d kill for Bassett’s biceps.

      Your point about your grandmother is so valid, and as I read through the Times story, I was thinking the EXACT same thing! Sounds like her story and mine were very similar, as I too was blindsided and had to pick up the pieces. No choice — what am I going to do, refuse to divorce him when he’s already clearly gone and starting his new life with his new girlfriend and new family? Yeah…don’t think so.

      Thanks for the great feedback on the blog. The book is still in “pitching” stages, but you guys will be the first to know. And yeah, life just keeps rolling along with the “others” … just waiting for the next giant speed bump in the middle of my nice, calm, path to peace and post-divorce harmony. But hey, Boyfriend Brett and I are going away for the weekend — so I hope the drama can wait until our return Monday! 🙂

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Not a dumb question, but I’m not sure I know the answer … other than, yes, I think you can change your “gravatar” when you create a WordPress account. It is free and relatively painless. We’d love to see your mug!

      Also, I know you’re supposed to be able to login through a Twitter or Facebook account now, which would make use of your profile pic on those sites. May be easier than starting a WordPress account, if you already play in other social media outlets. I think you can do this right below the comment box — it should say something like, “Connect with Facebook, Twitter, etc.” Just another option…

  5. hrhdaf says:

    Well yes indeed, when I got divorced so did everyone around me (not). When my sister found out her husband was having an affair she certainly didnt lie on the couch for a week, take up smoking and cry continuously while my folks had to go and look after her kids. I most certainly (in a fit of rage during my divorce) did not run outside the house and beat up my ex’s car with him sitting in it ;O) We’re all totally rational rational people and obviously the shattering experience of divorce can be swept under the carpet so we can all be totally civilised and have fluffy breakups.
    You can only protect your children from divorce if both partners are willing to play the game, and Id be interested to know how many of these educated people that stay unhappily married are having affairs. I bet there’s a statistic for that somewhere. ‘Yeah I’m off to yoga for the fifth time this week darling honestly…’ ;O) Surely when parents separate mom is suddenly twice as busy and has less time for herself not more.

    Oh and sadly Ive been remarried now for 17 years, so cannot be considered groovy. Reckon I can pass as quite cool though? ;O)

    Hugs Daf xxx

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Daf — LOVED this comment. So much to say…

      I have to admit that when I first read the last line of your first big paragraph, I was on my iPhone (tiny text) and thought it said, “…have fluffy pancakes.” Pancakes…breakups…they’re the same, really. Just one is tastier! But your point is well taken (especially now that I know it’s “breakups”). I, too, define “grace” in my divorce as not having assaulted either of these two who played a huge role in the destruction of my then-life. I feel like a pretty darn good person for that.

      And yeah, wink-wink-nudge-nudge “yoga.” So true…

      BTW, I think anyone who’s been married for as long as 17 years inherently must be groovy, as well as quite cool.

  6. Jonathan says:

    I think it’s great that you are so open, and starting the conversation about so many subjects that others perhaps don’t have the tools or bravery to attempt. I guess that’s where the certificate on the wall comes into play 🙂

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      …or that certificate just proves that I was too chicken shit to enter the real world. One of the two!

      Just kidding, of course. I was just so astounded at the sweeping generalizations and condescending tone of much of the story. I couldn’t help myself … we “real people” (who don’t reference hemlock in our daily lives) should also represent!

  7. Lori Dyan says:

    This NY Times writer is off her rocker. My divorced friends are scrambling to keep their shit together and have zero time for themselves. My never-married/no kids sister, on the other hand, does yoga AND goes for a run five times a week…

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      EXACTLY right! I had far more time for myself when I was married. And of course, even that ebbed and flowed, as the stage the kiddos were in definitely determined whether my Ex would be forthcoming in offering said “time” for myself.

      I’m certainly not saying the marrieds don’t have it rough (and I know you’re one of them — balancing wedding extravaganzas and hoochie mama dresses and naked kids and setting the Serb on fire, etc.). I know you’re busy, because I remember (well, not the Serbian wedding or setting my Ex on fire, but you get the pic)! But divorcing creates a situation in which your heart is proactively ripped out, you suddenly have part-time custody but still feel like and ARE a full-time mommy (thoughts, worries, concerns, questions don’t “turn off” when the kids are with their dad), you’re doing your best to heal and squash the desire to torch someone’s car, you’re navigating a whole new reality, AND you have no security blanket or inherent support system.

      Translation: Yoga … not on my radar!

      Thanks for the comment, Lori.

      • Someone Who Understands says:

        Even worse is when you are blindsided by the divorce due to your spouse leaving for a new relationship. You suddenly find yourself a single parent trying your best to hold the world together for the kids without anyone to back you up. It is impossible for your former spouse to understand the devastation, chaos and loneliness that they have heaped upon you, because they never had to face it themselves. It is easy to say everything they do is for the better when they are in the glow of new love…

  8. perilsofdivorcedpauline says:

    Brilliant, Mikalee! And you already know how I feel about that article. To answer some of your questions, the only friends I lost were the “lifestyle friends” who were never really my friends anyway. My true friends were always there, and are there still. In fact, the divorce helped me realize that. Now people who meet the two of us (school parents, for instance) can’t believe we were ever together. We attract very different kinds of people.

    The whole now-I-have-time-for-yoga thing? WHAT?? My ex didn’t want to see my daughter more than one night every two weeks until she was 3.5 so I had NO time to myself since I was also in graduate school and working. Now the custody schedule has changed but I also work full-time…I think I work out maybe once a week.

    The guilt from this article just did me in, as you know. What is one to do? My marriage was so incredibly toxic, we could not agree on anything, I was criticized relenltelssly and treated like a second-class citizen by my ex and his rich family…I was not allowed to make any major decisions because, I was told, I didn’t make good decisions…should I have stayed? I suppose my “failure” was that I couldn’t be a Stepford Wife, ’cause that’s the only way it would have worked.

    As for the Peaceful Divorce: I think it’s great when two reasonably well-adjusted people split up, move on with their lives, and work to respect each other for the sake of the kids. This is not my ex’s strategy. His is a slash-and-burn, hostile takeover, brainwash-the-kids-against-their-evil mother approach. There is no pill or therapeutic internvention that will fix that kind of craziness.There is no appealing to reason or a higher ground–cause there IS no higher ground! Just a personality disorder! Had I known how insanely vindictive my ex would get, I probably would have stayed, but only out of fear…and then he probably would have told my kids I was crazy anyway. His mother turned her whole family against her sister. That’s just the kind of people they are.

    So glad you deconstructed this piece. Well done!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Thanks so much for the incredible comment, Pauline. And yes, I know the article resonated with you (as in, pissed you off) too! The deal is, I think it’s incredibly irresponsible to make any kind of sweeping assessments about anything as different as divorce experiences. All of us have lived and breathed such different circumstances — yet when the NY Times lumps it all together, it just feels wrong. And condescending. And judgmental.

      You did what you had to do. I did what I had to do. And nope, we’re not Stepford Wives, nor should we have expected to have been at the time. That certainly doesn’t make us a failure. In fact, we both found success through our situations — yet now, the Times is seemingly attempting to make us question our motives, our rights, our responsibilities to our children, etc. Not ok, in my book.

      And like you, I only DREAM about what it must feel like to be in a respectful, co-parenting situation. I hate that mine has been so tumultuous for the kids, but I’m also proud that oftentimes they haven’t seen me just sit back and take what the “others” in my life proactively dished out. There’s a flip side to every coin, and I definitely need to lead by example for my children, showing them my strength while also doing my best to give them a good life.

      And I know you do, too!
      All in all, Pauline, I think we just chalk this article up to unrelateable drivel told through a pompous, self-righteous take on divorce trends. It’s certainly not about us!

      …now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to yoga…


  9. Someone Who Understands says:

    I just finished reading that article and I am speechless. So if we, as divorced people, cannot have a relationship with our ex that is just like when we were married (you know, loving and friendly and all that good stuff) then somehow we are less than? Excuse me? How flipping rude and judgmental.

    This is just another case of “if you are not like me, then you clearly suck” syndrome that sweeps the parent set constantly. It used to be “if you are not able to get your kids into the best school…” and went on to “if your child does not play an instrument at 3 and speak three languages by the age of 4”. Clearly, we are failures if we do not provide the world to our children, lavishing them with anything their hearts desire.

    Now, I find it odd that people seem to think that if a relationship does not work out, it is equally both people’s fault. Um… screw that!

    When my ex asked for a divorce, I immediately requested that we go to counseling before calling it quits. His immediate answer was “NO!” and a tirade about why should he put his happiness on hold? However, he maintained throughout the divorce process that we were equally at fault for our marital failure. The fact that he was secretly living with a girlfriend and they got a place together before we separated… yea, that did not enter into the equation, according to his warped perception.

    I reject fully the idea that I am equally at fault for the divorce. I reject outright the idea that I had anything to do with his wandering. Healthy people discuss any issues and seek counseling or help to try and correct any problems, whether real or perceived. If one person disconnects fully and does not even bother to work on it, discuss it or in any way indicate that there is that huge of a problem, why does the other spouse get the blame? Nope, I refuse to wear that mantle.

    What is wrong with people that they think if a woman leaves a man, then the woman is selfish and heartless… and if a man leaves a woman, there must be something wrong with her? When, exactly, did being male equate to not having to answer for your bad decisions? (I say this only because the article stated that men get less of the judgmental attitude and can live more in peace with their peers. Women do bad things too!)

    As for the kids, yes… things would be great if they could be from a home where everything is hunky dory and loving and grand. But as I have found my way to my new self and really had a chance to analyze what occurred in the marriage, I can honestly say they are better off now. They have an engaged mother who is happier and healthier. They have a mother and a huge supporting cast of characters who are there for them at every turn. They have one parent, at least, who can model self-respect and dignity, who can show them what healthy relationships look like and who will be there to guide them as they grow into fully formed adults who, hopefully, will be smart about their own love matches.

    As for there being some sort of groove factor… maybe. We have the ability to head out there and find a better and new and wonderful person to be with. But that is only if we can wedge it in those short few hours that we do not have the children with us. After all, even in this age of 50-50 parenting, not all people want or can handle that responsibility and in some cases it is not wise for them to have it. So the person who has the kids has all the responsibility and a lot less of the fun, yay-me time.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      “Now, I find it odd that people seem to think that if a relationship does not work out, it is equally both people’s fault. Um… screw that!”

      Oooh ooh OOOH I love this! I’m so flippin’ tired of the whole, judgmental, presumptuous “there’s two sides of every story, and you must have contributed your share of crazy” arguments. Fact is, sometimes one person does just make the overwhelming majority of the choices that deconstruct a marriage, oftentimes pulling the wool effectively over his/her spouses eyes so that they couldn’t even see it coming! In my situation, I felt so completely betrayed by the lack of any issues before the break — I mean, in the days post-divorce, he told me how miserable he had been. But I can GUARANTEE that I’m a very aware, observant person, and there were NO SIGNS (as I’ve blogged about in the past). So who’s responsible, if he’s giving me all this feedback about how great and perfect and awesome I am and our lives are? What opportunity did I have to “fix” what was wrong or truly reflect on who I wanted to be in the marriage apart from who he had made me comfortable to be?

      As you said: Not wearing that mantle…

      It sounds to me like you’re doing exactly what needs to be done — for yourself, for your kids, for your own prosperity. That’s all we can do in these situations. I’m so glad you feel happier and healthier and more engaged. I can relate. I’m telling you … we have parallel lives, you and I!!!

      Thanks so much for the brilliant comment. 🙂

      • jlmx2 says:

        “It takes two people to make a marriage work. It only takes one to end it.”

        So true.

        Mikalee, I LOVE reading your blog. I wish I had more time to leave a lengthy comment…but, ya know, I’m too busy yoga-ing and and infecting my non-divorced friends! 😉

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          You have such a great point: While yoga does take up time, the copious spreading of disgusting divorce spunk is actually the much more time consuming task, isn’t it? 😉

          Thanks for the comment — and the support!

  10. badbadwebbis says:

    I could be more easily shoved into the ‘selfish’ box since my choice to leave my husband was in part because of the fact that my identity in the marriage was more or less described by my husband’s wishes.

    Nasty me. Who wouldn’t want to live in a house with constant fighting that is causing one’s 6-year-old to sleepwalk twice a week? Do it for the children! YOU fix our marriage, woman, because it’s your own fault that we are unhappy.

    If I had stayed with the Ex for the children’s sake, I would have atrophied to the point where June Cleaver would look like Gloria Steinem compared to me. My eldest assures me that they would have been more unhappy if I hadn’t left, lo these 11 years ago. But I want the author of the NYT article to know that my fabulous free time was spent working and raising the children alone. Even on the Ex’s custody days I was working — working on my PhD, working on the projects I hadn’t had tome to finish at work because I had to pick up someone at day care, because I had to take a sick day for one of the girls, because someone had a dentist’s appointment…o the joys of being a divorced parent! And I couldn’t even complain about it at the time, because all I heard then was ‘Well YOU were the one who wanted the divorce!’

    About the issue of contagious divorce, I think he may have been alluding to the idea that divorce can be a huge step to take and it’s difficult to be the first one in a group of friends to do it. Once one person does it, though, it serves as an encouragement to other unhappy wives that it just might be possible to have a different life. Divorced women as trailblazers! — it’s almost like we’re back in the 1960s again. Progress!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      You make so many great points here. I just don’t understand how it can be a “selfish” decision if you know that ultimately, the kids will lead a happier life…I do feel tremendous GUILT about the idea that my kids have had to weather these storms, but I also hope that they will ultimately be stronger for it.

      I think a lot of this has to do with your parenting philosophy. My goal as a parent is NOT to remove all obstacles for my children so they can lead a perfect life. Instead, I’m hoping to grow functioning adults out of tiny humans, showing them how to navigate the obstacles that will undoubtedly come their way. Of course, this does not mean inviting pain — hell no. But how am I growing competent adults if I don’t give them the tools to function in a sometimes chaotic life?

      Good for you for taking your life into your hands and making things better for you and them. And if being strong is contagious — well then, that’s an infection I want to catch!

      • badbadwebbis says:

        I too have been alarmed by the fact that MY DIVORCE WILL AFFECT MY CHILDREN!!!!!!111!!!!1!

        Yes, and so will many other things — being dumped by a boyfriend, not winning an election, doing poorly on a test, not having a boyfriend until you are 18 (oh wait – that was me), getting your feelings mangled by Mean Girls…they do have to learn to cope with things. What makes it difficult, of course, is when an ex and new spouse seem intent on marking the children as theirs by behaving badly and confusing the children. Divorce can be less painful if the parents follow the damned directions on interacting with each other and not making the children into pawns.

        Mine were pawns when they were little, and they seem to be okay now….

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          I’m SO grateful to hear that they’re doing okay now. You’re right, though — the thing that will mess them up is not the divorce, but the inherent disrespect shown by either side. But in our circumstances, we don’t have control over that.

          And I can relate to the “not having a boyfriend until 18.” Me, too! And then I married my first bf, and we all know how that turned out…


          • Someone Who Understands says:

            Goodness. Are you sure you are not my second personality or something? (Or maybe I am yours?) LOL! I met the ex at college. He was my first in all ways.

            I swear… it is like looking in a mirror. Though the person he left me for is not an ex-cheerleader. I wish I could send you the picture. It would brighten your day! Hehehe.

            • Mikalee Byerman says:

              Ditto that, Someone Who Understands — mine was my “first” too!

              And while the OW in my situation is an ex-cheerleader, please keep in mind it was a very, very, VERY small town…


  11. J. Eric Smith says:

    As a reasonably intelligent, reasonably affluent, reasonably liberal middle-aged man living in New York, I am supposed to love, above almost everything else, The New York Times and National Public Radio.

    But my upbringing as a stupid, poor, evangelical cracker from South Carolina must have damaged my innards somehow, since I actually detest the NYT and NPR with great flaming passion, in large part because of articles and stories like this one, and living among the people who read, write and appreciate them.

    So I salute you for your awesomely effective dismantling of a particularly smugtastic piece from the Times . . . the ones that tend to make me batshit crazy (this is worse on NPR, actually) are the ones about various whimsical country folk from rural parts of the country, all delivered with smug, winking superiority at us crackers and our amusing, eccentric ways . . . while the urban urbane sip their chai and bide their times until tackling the Sunday crossword puzzle, in pen . . .

    STFU, pedants!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      See now, this is how I KNOW that we’re the sane ones: I mean, a crossword in PEN? Who does that?

      Oh yeah, the same people who’d say, “give me the hemlock.”

      In pen, indeed. The superiority and condescension just dripped — nay, oozed — from this article. I felt like a stupid poor cracker (love that, btw) while reading these words that didn’t even pertain to me. At first, it managed to make me feel like a disappointment — to myself and my kids.

      But then I remembered: Yeah, I kinda rock. And I’m glad I’m not surrounded by judgmental friends who look down their noses at me for my circumstance.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective here. South Carolina, huh? (definitely not asked with smug, winking superiority…) I just visited there for the first time last year — didn’t see a whole lot of charm or whimsy, but perhaps I wasn’t in the right neighborhood? But I do have to share that my favorite memory was passing by a KFC (and rounding the block so that I could even get a picture) that boasted, “GIzzards and giblets today!” That’s not something we see every day in the sophisticated, hooker and divorce capital of the west known as Reno, Nevada…


      • J. Eric Smith says:

        Yep, I’m about as old school South Carolina as it gets . . . 11 generations descended from Dr. Henry Woodward, the first British colonist to settle in the Low Country. I know this because in South Carolina, while we may live in trailers now, once WE WERE KINGS!!!!

        This is an important part of our psyche down there . . . I haven’t actually lived in South Carolina in nearly 30 years, but when I go home, I’m more of a local, because of who my people are, than New Yorkers who moved down there 25 years ago, and have been paying taxes there ever since . . .

        And, yes, fast food organ meat really is the best organ meat . . . pity you only got a picture of it without a tasting!!

        True story: I wrote my masters thesis in public administration about all the ways that National Public Radio sucks ass financially, organizationally, ethically, morally, and holistically (and NOT for the reasons that most batshit crazy right-wingers believe, since I’m not socially conservative at all). . . if I ever go on for my doctorate, maybe I’ll need to give the New York Times the same treatment . . .

  12. spicegirlfla says:

    First off I thoroughly enjoy your writing and reading this post. It’s been 10 years since my divorce, and here’s my take on this:
    1. No one else jumped on my exciting bandwagon to divorce their spouse.
    2. Since I relocated my kids to another state; i.e., no father around to take them every other weekend or family members to help out, I had NO time for myself between working full time and driving to swim meets, baseball games and all their activities. They came first and no regrets on that! Thank God their grown now!
    3. Far from a peaceful divorce…but that’s because he was crazy. I can sleep well on that every night.
    4. Sometimes I see it in their eyes, those unhappily married couples that fantasize at night that my life HAS to be more exciting. So be it.
    I am happy, I have no regrets. And it will get better for you, I promise.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      “Far from a peaceful divorce…but that’s because he was crazy. I can sleep well on that every night.”

      LOVE IT! There is some comfort in that knowledge, isn’t there?

      Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I love seeing so many of us who are SO MUCH better off now than then. Even though this doesn’t mean tantric yoga sessions 5 times weekly, it does mean more inner peace. And I’d bet we have more strength in each of us than all of those happily/peacefully divorced people COMBINED! Only because we’ve had to…


  13. BB says:

    I tried to read the article, but the constant urge to vomit caused me to just kill the webpage. I’ll just go with your points. They don’t give me the heaves, they amuse me;

    Catching??? WTF kind of Dr. Phill psycho-babble is that? No wonder the NYTimes lines the birdcages of NYC

    Can I say that I divorced becuase she selfishly put her needs to be an adulterous skank above her son’s needs? Man’s got to draw the line somewhere, so if that makes me selfish, so be it. The kid is doing just fine, so screw’em

    Peaceful divorce? What part of done do they not understand. It’s the freaks that do weekly dinners and holidays with the ex-in-laws that are doing their kids a disservice. (kinder way of saying they are mind-fucking them). Little Mary or Joey think the world is going to get better. Maybe mom and dad will get back together. Sorry kid, NOT GONNA HAPPEN. We speak only when it’s about the boy. I’ll pass on the pleasantries.

    Groovy because I’m divorced? Happier with my own self – yes. Better than any of my married friends – don’t be ridiculous. Sucks that it happened, but better off for it – yes. Maybe I am a bit selfish in that I feel better off with my life now, but it’s the same everyday grind that it was before . You don’t divorce the kids

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Sorry to have almost sickened you with the link — but glad you made it back to comment and share your thoughts!

      Birdcages are too good for that crap. Plain and simple. To make some kind of universal judgment about experiences that are so DIFFERENT — not journalism at all. And I do love your point about the mind fucking. I do think this would prey on the kiddos a bit, even if (heaven forbid) it just manifested in later life when they resultingly self-flagellated (heaven forbid) because they couldn’t do the same in their own (heaven forbid) divorces.

      Welcome to the “better off for it” club. Card-carrying member right here, too!

  14. Sperm donor's Wife says:

    News flash.. The OW in my marriage, that sperm stalking, “bat-shit-fatal attraction-crazy”, Babymama-by-choice subscribes to the NYTimes and it’s hoor logic.
    She is one of those snooty , well educated, well traveled, MBA hoors.
    She must have skewered the damn responses to the survey as she claims she has been surviving her “pretend divorce” with the sperm donor all these years.

    Yeah, I’m sure she does yoga 5 times a week. She’s constantly at the gym stalking out some new fresh meat. She has great biceps ! Too bad, her face and little black heart are so F##ing ugly. Horseback riding is her passion and just the right thing for getting her groove back. She has alienated herself from most of her other married friends … who have realized she suffers from delusions, infectious head lice and other STD’s.
    And she refuses to take a narcissistic delousing.

    Therefore, there must be a grain of twisted truth .. somewhere embedded in that biased excuse for journalism ?

    BTW…… I preferred this movie … Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a MAD BLACK Woman”.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I’ll definitely have to check out the Tyler Perry movie — almost as iconic as “Stella,” and another one I haven’t yet seen!

      Guess I was doing yoga instead of watching movies all these weeks since the divorce…


  15. k8edid says:

    Well, I have been married a damned long time and I find myself wanting to be divorced so that I can be groovy again (I was divorced once). Yes, for that divorce I was extremely selfish. I put my need to keep my bones unbroken and my face unsmashed before my son’s need to have a drug addicted/angry/vicious father in his life.

    In addition, I want to be divorced so that all my friends will be divorced, too. Our friends Sarah and John should divorce first – because I can’t really stand her and I think he is hot….

    I could give a shit about the yoga – but I’m sure I’d have a lot more time if I was divorced….this article made it all sound so, well, groovy.

    Such broad generalizations do not take into account the hard work that individuals put in to keep it all together, or the courage it sometimes takes to bite the bullet and get yourself out of a bad situation.

    From what I have read you are dedicated to ensuring your children are safe, healthy, and loved. You rock. Tell divorce to kiss your ass.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow. You were really , super-duper selfish, weren’t you. If by “selfish,” we mean “brave, courageous, focused on your son, etc.”…

      Good for you.

      Yes, you’re absolutely right: Broad generalizations are a dangerous thing. Why the hell do stories like this still exist making such sweeping analyses? I just don’t get it — and based on reactions to the article, it seems many of us feel the same way.

      Thanks for sharing your story — and for being here for mine. Much appreciated!

  16. kadja1 says:

    The ignorant sot that wrote this article not only has never been divorced but seems to forget that there are other causes of divorce besides people drifting apart…Two timing butt heads, domestic violence, domineering religious conversions and such all lead to it–as well as men who constantly leave the toilet seat up! Sorry guys! I read that on a study YEARS ago, so you’d better stop leaving that seat up when the wife is being courteous enough to not wake your butt up at night by turning on the bathroom light!

    I’m not going to even go into the fact that there are some parents who NEED to be divorced so the kids don’t witness so much of the psychological BS some people pull on their spouses. I am also of the opinion that the person who wrote this piece of litter box/dog walk fodder also is afraid to leave his or her own so-called marriage and justifies it by saying “It’s for the children”–even if he or she is living a lie and sleeping with a different partner in every city…Sorry, but those who feel chained will always attack the person who walks away. I know that for a fact too…Just ask my kids. 😀 Hope you have a great week!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Great points all around, kadja1…there are SO MANY realities that inspire divorce. Why would such sweeping generalizations even be a valuable addition to the divorce discussion? I just don’t get it…

      I agree that many children benefit from a divorce decision, especially when psychological manipulation is at play. But I’ve also seen the other side of this, where such manipulation surprisingly ramps up post-divorce. Bottom line: People change, oftentimes fundamentally. And unpredictability is a basic tenet of human behavior, which sucks for people who are the “committed, loyal” types…and believe the pre-crazy lie!

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment — as always!

  17. Harold says:

    The person writing the article seems delusional at best and may be smoking the hemlock! A divorce when both are willing de-participants will have less acrimony than a divorce started with a brick brought in like a wrecking ball from one side.
    When someone generalizes I figure they don’t know much and are off in their own little idealistic world. When their balloon pops they will go to pieces. Unlike those who were in the real world and toughed it out and were strengthened by it.
    A good de-construction of the article Mikalee and good reader comments!

      • Mikalee Byerman says:

        You know, I was going to pose for a similar pic myself — but then, I thought, why mess with perfection? She clearly did a lot of work to sculpt those arms…homage must be paid… 😉

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      So true, Harold — I often find myself envious of post-divorce relationships of some of my friends and acquaintances (whom I undoubtedly infected!), but then I realize: The decision to divorce for them was, in most cases, a mutual one. The added element of being “blindsided” does tend to make the idea of acrimony an unattainable ideal. Especially when crazy post-divorce games are played…

      And btw, when I read your comment, I first thought it said, “When their balloon poops…”

      I liked that.


  18. Kathlene Audette says:

    The New York Times annoys me to begin with. The weddings section is the most bizarre thing to me. How are these things newsworthy?

  19. the island traveler says:

    First, you look great especially on the first picture.just perfect! Second, divorce or not , what matters is your happy and you living your life the way you want it to be. third, real friends will support you no matter what. Through the years , I met people who are true friends, they may be few but they are real in their support irregardless of life’s circumstances. You’re being true to yourself and that’s something to celebrate!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Hahaha…thanks for the picture feedback! 🙂

      Agreed about your comment, too: It’s an unfair thing to make generalizations, as everyone lives their lives, heals and moves on in individual ways. But we do need to be honest, be real — and most importantly for me, to share with others so that others can feel support, too. A divorce (especially one that is completely, totally, earth-shatteringly surprising) can make you feel so isolated … and yet so many of us can relate!

      Thank you for the great comment, island traveler…

  20. Ashley says:

    I’m speechlesss – you are right; that article was all over the place! My experience with divorce? After divorce, I didn’t go to yoga, but I DID go to parties – where I met my second husband. NOW I go to yoga and when his health permits – he goes with. It’s not the husband that prevents me from going to yoga more than once a week, it’s my kids, housework, job, grocery shopping, fixing dinner, life in general! Who the hell has that kind of time?

    Oh, and sounds like the New York Times upholds a higher standard for its readers than its ‘reporters’:)

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      SO true, Ashley — I think a person’s ability to go or not go to yoga is based solely on life experience; certainly not on marital status!

      Good point about the reporter. Except she’s clearly “influential” (if that would include, “influencing people to think she’s bat-shit crazy”) and “highly engaged” (in delusion).

  21. Kathy50 says:

    How can you co-parent with someone that makes you want to throw up on him, by just having to look at him? My ex left 2 days before I turned 50 for some skank that was 20 years younger and had two young children.. After three years of on again off again and cleaning me out financially, they have called it quits. But not before he took the house, my daughter and the dogs. Now he is selling the house and I barely get to speak to my daughter. What a Pig! He couldn’t even get his midlife crisis right..He is a redneck so he got an ugly woman with a pickup truck a instead of a pretty one and a sports car. What a joke.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I’m so sorry for the pain this undoubtedly caused…ugh. Sounds like a horrible situation (especially regarding your daughter).

      In these cases, it’s so tempting for people to advise, “But just think, you’re so lucky he left so you don’t have to deal with him any more!!!” But when it comes to kids being involved (and even the dogs, in some cases…), it’s hard to feel so optimistic. It truly sucks.

      But at least there’s the ugly woman, right? That’s gotta help — if only a little… 🙂

      • kathy50 says:

        Yea, she runs by me like I am going to attack her. I wouldn’t waste my time or energy on that. I love your blog..it makes me feel like I am not the only one that got crapped on and trying hard to recover. Keep writing..I love everyting you write. I wish the best to you and your children.

        • Mikalee Byerman says:

          Totally the point: We ARE NOT alone!

          I thought for a long, long time that I was the only one that these kinds of things happened to. Then I started sharing — and learning that there’s a whole BATCH of crazy out there, and I think part of the reason it prevails is because we as a society choose not to talk about it!

          But I choose the other path. And I’m glad you’re right there alongside me! Thanks so much for the great comment, Kathy.

  22. shinypigeon says:

    I have serious issue with this whole article…but as a child of divorce…and a frickin’ messy one at that…I seeth at the second point.

    If my parents had stayed together….I would have been brought up in a house full of face to face confrontation, under my nose, under my feet. Seeing my mother cry. My father cry. I would have known my parents were unhappy. Children are far from stupid. But obviously that is not on this journalists radar. Idiot.

    The fact that my parents divorced meant that they didn’t try to kill each other. Which I’m sure they would have done if they had stayed together. It also meant they found out what kind of parents they were individually. And they realised they had to pull up their socks. Individually.

    I had two amazing parents, who couldn’t love each other anymore. It didn’t mean I felt any less loved. In fact, the fact they were putting me first, by not living a lie, made me the person i am today.
    Strong, honest and not willing to take any crap from any fool. Especially those who write for the Times.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow … it’s absolutely affirming to hear this (yet again) from a real person in a real situation — as opposed to the over-generalized crazy that this NY Times writer espouses!

      There are many situations when it is the MOST SELFLESS thing a person can do to divorce — it truly is a way to put the children first. It sounds like you may be a product of that type of attitude — or at least, a set of parents who were fully aware of what was in their children’s best interests, and moved forward accordingly.

      I love that you note how their actions made you the person you are. To be “strong, honest and not willing to take crap from any fool” are some of the best traits I hope my own children reflect as adults.

      Great comment — thank you!

  23. Aisiri says:

    living in India, divorce is a phenomena that is rarely seen, as most of the marriages are arranged and people tend to make sacrifices for a better life style.. But sometimes Divorce really is the best option in order to avoid mental trauma..
    I know that (while writing this comment) that I am only 16 and life hasn’t even shown its true colors yet, but I just needed to express my opinion, and so I am writing this comment.
    And trust me, divorce is not the end of life. It’s just one of the hurdles.
    With every failed relationship, we get one step closer to finding the true love (or so my brother says).. but if life is better without someone than with, hey, you gotta live it right?
    Great post, great blog. And I Subscribed! 🙂

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      That’s some crazy good insight from someone who’s only been around for 16 years — thanks so much for sharing!

      You’re absolutely right that sometimes a divorce is a necessary evil … especially when abuse is part of the relationship. I’m fortunate that was never even a concern for me, but I feel for those who do suffer at the hands of a spouse.

      Thanks so much for the comment — and for subscribing!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed! Many readers stop by just for the vicarious nature of it all — to count their blessings that their lives aren’t as bat-shit crazy as ours. So you’re more than welcome to do the same.

      Thank you for the comment — and for stopping by!

  24. Lee says:

    Wow. I don’t know what else to say. Married people seem to think that divorce is catching, or that we re-singles want the spouses that marrieds have. If they only knew we just got rid of our own, why would we want theirs! I do think you can get your groove back when you are divorced, because let’s face it….rebirth always gives you your groove back. Once again, you nailed the entire thing. You rock and roll with your groove.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I real dig your new entry into the English language: “re-single” is a rockin’ awesome term, Lee!

      And you can add an “s” to the end of it so much easier than pluralizing divorced into “divorceds.” AW-KWARD!

      Agreed that redefinition is a natural byproduct of a traumatic event like divorce. What choice do we have but to come out better, stronger, wiser and simply cooler? Right? 🙂

      Thanks so much for the comment, dear — as always!

  25. Damian Trasler says:

    Ha! Now, listen: Having followed your exploits for a while, I have to say – you’re not the one screwing up the divorce and parenting etc etc. You seem to be carrying your half of the mess with style, aplomb and other unlikely words used by folks like the Hemlock Lady. Hmmm, where does that leave the “Screwing things up” half? Who else is involved in your divorce?
    Moving on…. God, that article is a pig. Having just read a nice blog about living in NYC (and come back to your blog from there through YOUR comment) this article just reeks of the “NYC is the centre of the Universe” ideal that makes me want to throw up. I genuinely struggled to understand many of the terms in the opening paragraphs, having no idea whether Park Slope is an area, a social group, or a place you leave your car. And a “Red Hook Divorcee”? Ugh.
    And anyway, I must’ve missed the “Divorce is fashionable” headlines when it was IN.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Um, Damian: Have you read today’s blog? Cuz that “aplomb” word may no longer apply…

      Just teasing, of course. I acknowledge my own contribution of crazy to a bizarre situation, but I quickly reassessed and moved on. Not the Grand Canyon of mistakes — only a minor speed bump. Hope I didn’t lost my aplomb card with that one…

      Anyhow, I totally LOVE that you called the article a pig. You’re so right. Before this article, I had never even HEARD of Park Slope (and I consider myself pretty well versed — heck, I can even say the 50 states in alphabetical order in 30 seconds. So there!). But Park Slope? Red Hook? Come on, now…

      And yeah, I missed those headlines too. Maybe because we don’t live in the center of the Universe like Hemlock lady?

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I, my blogging friend, have MAD SKILLZ when it comes to such artistic expressions. And my body in that white dress obviously needs no photoshopping or airbrushing or similar. I scoff at the very suggestion…


  26. Iron Spine Sally says:

    Yeah. I shoulda stuck around and had kids with my ex so he could emotionally abuse them, too. That way my now ex-friends could drink white wine together and talk about shoes without having to think about their own sad marriages.

    Hmm, no. I’ll take the fight, thanks.

  27. mkeeffer says:

    Excellent piece – no one approaches divorce like it’s going to be some kind of picnic.

    And I thought the stuff about divorcees being selfish went out with buggy whips – how ridiculous!

    As for divorce being catching….just dumb!

    Well-written with great voice – keep going! This is mos def material for a book….bring it!

  28. acleansurface says:

    I just scanned through the comments and found that both of mine (certain other factors could easily cause the “contagious” divorce statistic, and real life author “Stella” actually got divorced after her young husband came out of the closet) had already been entered by others.
    How annoying newspapers are with their controversy provoking nonsense…

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      I’m just glad we can all see though the bullshit! The more of us with our eyes wide-ass open, the better!

      I almost hated feeding into the NYT’s desire to inspire controversy by blogging about the crazy story. But come on now … divorce is catching?!?! That’s too good NOT to respond to…

  29. Patrice Kyger says:

    I read that NYT article when it came out — and thought, “Huh?”. Glad to see others did the same. Fast-forward 30 years, and I doubt the author will hold the same opinions in 2041. Can guarantee she won’t be living in Park Slope anymore, either. Life has a way of zonking us without much warning. We often work for years to contain the pain, to benefit our children (selfish, are we?). If we’re lucky, it finally occurs to us that it’s not healthy to raise children within a hurtful marriage.

    I live in an area with a low divorce rate (and, yes, high educational levels), so I’m amazed by the number of married women with ill-concealed envy of my re-singleness. Don’t they realize that all they have to do is go through the same pain, the same endurance tests? Of course they do. But they’re scared. They’re frightened of losing money, status, comfort, respect. These couples aren’t working at their marriages by going to counseling, but neither are they letting go. They’re stuck in Lot’s wife style, “pickled” in their own immovability and just as incapable of growth and progress. As lonely as my life sometimes feels, I recognize and celebrate my development as well as the fact that my ex and I have co-parented well.

    Pay no attention to the author of this piece. She speaks from her own ignorance. Life will teach her. Fortunately.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Sadly, I’m sure you’re right. It’s amazing to me how much fervent conviction often covers for insecurity…

      I have seen many couples stuck in loveless marriages because of comfort and fear of the unknown. What kind of example is that setting for the children, I wonder? I don’t advocate divorce, but I can’t imagine that kind of interaction models a healthy relationship for the kids. If I can see how loveless the marriage is from my very distant perch, I can only imagine what the kids see from their front-row seats…

      Good for you for finding your re-singled groove (you must be a fan of Lee Block?!?!). We don’t deserve to suffer, nor do we deserve labels…we simply deserve to be happy!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      But why is that, exactly? I’m still perplexed by this…

      If you’re going to cheat, why wouldn’t you sacrifice your love and wife and family and home and comfort for someone truly “worth it”? Still pondering this one…

  30. Brittni says:

    I stumbled across your blog, and within the last few posts, I feel the strange urge to…comment…

    Anyways, I am young. Younger than most who commented on this. Although I have not read through them all, I have a different perspective to the divorce issue.

    I think I have an ability to see both sides, as (still) a young lady who is seething at my father’s actions, and my mother’s response to it, but as a woman who can understand the difficulty of heartbreak. I am only 20-years-old, but I think I am in a position to speak for both children and adults. 🙂

    I think that, regardless of the nature of the divorce, there will be extreme pain and loss for everyone- including the children. We are left to wonder- what did I do wrong? What did I do to deserve this? Many times, I think parents forget that children can, AND DO, feel the same things that adults do. On the other hand, the hurt parties of the divorce are left to restart an entire life that has been built- not just for themselves, but for the children. There is rarely ever a spreadsheet or chart or instruction manual as the best way to handle a messy, disgusting, spunk-infested situation. You cannot expect tact when there is an abundance of pain and irrationality.

    From the little that I’ve read, you seem to be handling everything perfectly. I applaud your strength and ability to bring *written* humor to the situation. Divorce isn’t contagious (although my mother’s best friend might have followed the path soon after my mother…), selfishness is to be expected in that difficult time, and maybe going to yoga 5 times a week wouldn’t be bad for anyone in a shitty experience. I know this guy who does a GREAT happy ending… 😉


    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Brittni, I’m so grateful you stopped by and offered your perspective. It’s always wonderful to see the story from other sides — though I’m so sorry for the hurt you’ve endured.

      I’m constantly concerned about my children and the inevitable issues that all of this will inspire. But I do try to simply do my best, trusting that their amazing spirits will take them far. Ultimately, you’re so right: There are no directions or rules or guidelines to model. We have to wing it — but by God, it does seem that there are just some “right” and “wrong” ways to handle the entire ordeal…why can’t some people see that?

      As for the yoga — point taken. I may be in touch to get that referral from you! 😉

      Take care, and please stop by again –


  31. Desert Chronicler says:

    A very dear friend is a . . . wait, lets count the F’s. Failed marriage, Failed divorce, Failed post divorce life, Failed parenting, Failed reconciliation, Failed let him live in again, Failed his second affair, Failed a reassertion of the original divorce, Failed post Failed divorce Failed post re-divorce, Failed at parenting their now 2 kids (The second one came during the Failed let him live in again). Adding the appropriate F Bombs and that’s FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF-. (That much failure surely deserves a MINUS grade, doesn’t it?) I’d have done that in exponential notation, but alas, WordPress isn’t set up for that.

    I love this girl dearly. Unlike all of her other “friends” who chattered and gossiped behind her back, and told her what a huge mistake she was making in light of all those F’s. As much as I wanted to tell her that the loser was still a loser, and not worth her love and trust, I simply told her that:

    A) I didn’t want to see her get hurt again.


    B) If she was, I would be there.

    She buried her head in my shoulder and cried softly for something less than two minutes. I have to say that she’s handling the second round of F’s a whole lot better than the first, and I’m proud of her for it. I think it’s because she is no longer wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. It finally came down, right on her neck, but there’s a wait (yes, I used the right wait, but weight certainly applies as well) lifted from her shoulders.

    She’s been listening to me laugh as I’ve been reading you for the last 8 hours, and will for the next 4, and I’ve shared some of your insights with her.

    Thank you, on her behalf, for your witty, humorous outlook and willingness to be so open.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      You know, all those “F”s will undoubtedly add up to a whole lot of wisdom. So there’s something, right? I have to admit that I was one of “those people” who judged the “failures” in our society — before my own brick. I was lacking a whole lot of knowledge, perspective and wisdom. But now I see that we try, we fail, we try again — it’s all part of human nature. The truly trying part is allowing yourself to be open enough again to potentially fail!

      Tell her congrats for me, please. And please know that she is lucky to have you as a friend!


If you do not leave a comment, you will further shatter my already broken spirit. If you can live with that guilt, so be it... ;)

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