Beyond A Divorce Party
When I received my divorce decree in the mail, I trembled with excitement as my eyes skimmed the brief document. It was finally over. I was no longer legally tied to a man that I desperately wanted out of my life forever. I was free! I felt instantaneous relief and my mind began to race as I wondered who I should call first. I felt like having a party, or going out to celebrate. But, I opted for a quiet evening at home with my children instead. After a quick check to ensure that my last name had been restored and confirm the judge’s signature, my divorce decree was tucked into my file cabinet.
As much as I consider my divorce a personal milestone, it has never occurred to me to memorize the date my divorce was finalized, much less to commemorate it. Yet, I have recently learned that some women have turned celebrating their divorce into an annual tradition. In the summer of 2013, Katie Holmes was reportedly planning a party to celebrate the anniversary of the dissolution of her marriage to Tom Cruise. There are party planners and travel destinations that specialize in planning divorce and divorce anniversary celebrations. You can even find helpful ‘how-to’ articles on the Internet about how to commemorate your divorce anniversary, like making a mix-tape of songs you loved (but your ex hated) and ritualistically ridding of items that remind you of your former life.
Why Celebrate Your Divorceaversary?
While some would wonder why anyone would choose to celebrate the anniversary of their divorce, there are many reasons why women are so. Some marriages do not end on tumultuous terms. “I lived in Arizona, where you can receive a quick no-contest divorce. The whole process took 60 days,” said Brandi Mai, a public relations officer in Georgia. “My ex and I got divorced while eating patty melts at The Waffle House.” They’d met for breakfast for their phone conference with the court.
When asked how she started the tradition of celebrating her divorceaversary, she answered, “It started off as a joke, because my ex-husband is half-Mexican, so I used to tell everyone I’d rather celebrate Cinco de Mayo in June when I gained my legal independence. From there it just became a habit and even my children know the date. One year, I threw a barbeque with my girlfriends and some years, I just pour myself a cocktail.”
Brandy relocated from Arizona to Georgia so her children could be closer to their father, and now lives a mile from her ex-husband and his current wife. She describes their relationship as cordial. “No one wants to put their children through a divorce. I am not sure that I would celebrate [my divorce anniversary] if I hadn’t had an amicable experience.”
Yet, a high-conflict divorce is the main reason why women observe the date their divorce was finalized. Divorce can be viewed as a rebirth and time for renewal. Whether you initiated the process or not, a divorce prompts new beginnings. Instead of focusing on the negatives, you can focus on the positive aspects of your divorce and honor your divorce anniversary as a significant personal milestone. A divorceaversary can be spent expressing gratitude, reflecting on personal progress, setting new goals and thanking friends that have offered their love and support.
“For a woman that has had time to grieve the loss of her marriage, a divorce anniversary celebration could be cathartic. It can be a way to display her resilience and ability to survive on her own,” said Sharlotte Jackson, a licensed professional counselor in Texas. “However, if there are older children involved, they may take the celebration the wrong way. It’s important that the children understand that their mother is not celebrating the demise of the original family unit, but celebrating the fact that they have persevered.” In addition to a personal celebration, she suggests that parents take the time to plan a special dinner or an outing with their children to create new fun family memories.
How do you celebrate your divorceaversary?