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How To Get "A Little Bit Divorced"

Taking a break from marriage can breathe new life into your love.

Taking a break from marriage can breathe new life into your love.

In this week’s Modern Love, author Rachel Zucker describes the radical move she made in her otherwise happy marriage. One day, she turned to her beloved husband and said, “Let’s get a little divorced.”

Zucker doesn’t want to leave her husband, much. They’ve been married for 13 years, longer than her own parents stayed together (also longer than mine lasted). They have kids they love, a home they’ve invested in together, and a long history of mutual support and love.

Their marriage is a success story, made all the more awesome by the fact that they’re both children of divorce. Staying together for the long term is something they’ve made up on their own as they go along, and they’re proud of it.

As they come into their late 30s, though, Zucker can’t help but notice that a lot of her friends are getting divorced. And a lot of the women seem pretty happy about it.

They’re free to do what they like. Go to yoga. Lay in bed eating cookies and watching reruns of Sex in the City and just pretend they went to yoga. Go out on dates. Work as late as they like without having to dash out of the office early for soccer practice. Single life has its advantages.

Seeing her suddenly single friends enjoying life, Zucker wondered how she could get a little of that action. It’s not the divorce she wants; it’s a more egalitarian relationship with her husband. The freedom to spend a few days away from her family now and then. A coparent who will make school lunches and pick the kids up.

I am right there with her. I’m pretty blessed to have a marriage that works that way, too. My husband packs the kids’ lunches and takes them to school. I pick them up. He takes them to music class on Saturday mornings, I take them out Sunday afternoons so he can play guitar with his friends. We take separate vacations as well as family trips.

One of the first parenting articles I ever read was called “Give me joint custody, hold the divorce!” I’ve thought about that many times over the years: kind of the ideal, to have time that is genuinely your own, with no expectation that you’ll be on duty as a parent or spouse, without the heartache of divorce.

Do you and your partner play divorcees from time to time? How do you give each other the space you need to keep growing, while staying connected as a couple?

Photo: Ed Yourdon

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