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Going Public with a Break Up

What if the marriage isn't as sweet as the cake?

I’m a big fan of the Vows column in the New York Times Sunday Styles section. My husband, too.  We love to tuck into a little story about how two people came together. Sometimes we cluck if they came together while they were also together with other people. Sometimes we just sigh and remember how we met. But even more than the Vows column, I love the State of the Union stories.  These are the columns that check in with couples years after their wedding day to see what’s up. That’s what I really want to know. After all, it’s fun to meet and fall in love, but, really, that’s the easy part.

No big surprise, most of the couples featured in the State of the Union are still happily married. Sure, some have had their ups and downs, but they’re mostly together.  Every so often, though, they’re not.  Which is great, because break ups happen. And a divorced couple where both parties are willing to talk about their divorce in the pages of the wedding section?  That’s a couple who take the term “amicable split” to a whole new level. And if the couple has kids, hats off.

Reading Candace Walsh’s account in the Huffington Post of how her divorce ended up in the State of the Union, and then watching the video she and her ex-husband made, my hat was on the ground and my hand was reaching for a hankie.

Walsh and her ex, Peter Guagy, met at a bar, sort of, fell in love, got married had kids and then, they started to wonder, is this it?  For them, it turns out it was.  But what’s remarkable about the story Walsh tells is not her sorrow over their divorce and the loss it brought to their lives, it’s that Guagy and Walsh seem to be able to remember that they were once happy to be with each other. It makes them sad, but it doesn’t make them bitter.  At one point in the video, Guagy says something like “I loved Candace when we got married, but I love her more today.”  It’s a remarkable moment, one that speaks to the enduring respect and commitment that the decision to build a life together can bring.  Their kids could watch this video and understand that their parents have an enduring bond, even if they can’t live together.  You can imagine this couple having one of those vast blended family Christmases, with mom and her girlfriend/wife, and dad and his girlfriend/wife and all the kids coming together and not only not killing each other but actually enjoying each other.

It was easy for Walsh to ask to be in the Vows column, and it was hard for Walsh to talk about her divorce for a video version of the State of the Union.  But I’m glad she did. If I were getting divorced (throwing salt over shoulder now), I’d definitely read Walsh’s column and watch her video and have hope.

Blogs  and newspapers so often tells us stories that leave us shaking out heads and thinking, “Man, what were they thinking?”  This story gives all of us, married or not, something to think about when we think about ties that bind and sometimes come loose.

Would you go public with your wedding or break up?

photo credit:  EN wikipedia / SeanMack

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