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Let's Start a New Trend: The Divorce Registry

By carolyncastiglia |

divorce registry, divorce, starting over after divorce, home goods, single mother

I want a Dyson, damn it!

I decided this weekend, as I thought about the fact that after being divorced for nigh on three years I still don’t have a vacuum cleaner, that it was time for me to start a new trend: the divorce registry. A divorce registry is a lot like a bridal registry, except instead of reigistering for things you’ll never use (like candlesticks or crystal bowls), you register for all the things you desperately need that you lost to your ex. (As far as I can tell, stores don’t sell dignity, so you’ll have to find another way to get that back.)

I started a divorce registry on Target.com with one item on it - a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Since the crappy cordless one I bought post-D stopped working a few months ago, I’ve been borrowing a vacuum once a week from one of my best friends who lives down the street. But damn it, I want a Dyson, and who says I can’t register for it?! I bought everything else I needed to start my life over myself, so this is one thing I’m not ashamed to ask for. (I thought about starting a Kickstarter project for one, but as a friend noted on Facebook, I’d need to come up with an artistic use for a vacuum cleaner.) During the two years immediately following my divorce when I lived rent free with my mother, I slowly stockpiled all of the items I’d need in order to move into a place of my own with my daughter. Then when I finally moved out of my mother’s house and back to New York City, I incurred all kinds of single mother startup costs, like having to buy my daughter a new bed and mattress, buying dressers for myself and shelving for my books and my kid’s toys. The expenses added up quickly!

Getting divorced is a costly proposition, and if you’ve got a gal pal* who is about to jump ship or is currently going through a split, why not throw her a divorce party? (Look, someone on Zazzle has already created cute invitations for you!) But don’t just make it a toast to her new found freedom – help a sister out by buying her some of these items she will most likely need in order to begin again. Or ask her to start a divorce registry of her own:

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Let's Start a New Trend: The Divorce Registry

Bedding

She'll need everything brand new: sheets, pillowcases, comforter and maybe even a bedskirt. (Do not let her continue to sleep on her marital bedding, OMG!) You can try to find something cute in a bed-in-a-bag combo (I just bought one at Target, they're cheap and cute but usually not as nice as the stuff you can buy individually). Tip: get her bedding with a red floral motif like this one to make her feel sexy. A friend told me red flowers are supposed to attract lovers!
Comforter available at Target

*Divorce registries could work for guy friends, too, but men typically make more money and so might not need the help as badly. But if your dude is destitute, by all means, help him out!

Note: you don’t have to buy new items for a divorced pal, either. For example, if by chance you have a gently used toaster leftover from when you yourself combined households with your spouse, that’s a great re-gift!

Main image via Target.com

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About carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at MarieClaire.com and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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37 thoughts on “Let's Start a New Trend: The Divorce Registry

  1. Angie K says:

    Just what we need. Another Billion dollar industry that makes people think they need even more stuff than they need. We don’t have enough with weddings, kids birthday parties, showers, etc. etc.

  2. carolyncastiglia says:

    Really? Wow. There’s nothing extravagant on this list. Sure, you can live without a microwave, certainly, but do you not dry yourself with towels? Or do you bathe in the river and let yourself air dry on a rock? Lord. I’m not advocating for a “billion dollar industry” – this post is about helping out a friend in need. I’ll update it to mention that you can donate extras of these items that you might have, a point I meant to include initially anyway.

  3. CW says:

    Do we want to REWARD those who choose to divorce? Bridal registries are intended to encourage couples to marry by offsetting the costs of setting up their new households. Now, certainly I would help out (and actually have done so) a woman who is a victim of domestic abuse, substance abuse, chronic adultery, or other serious issue that puts her and/or their children at risk if she remains married. But most divorces aren’t the result of anything remotely so drastic. Research has shown that a majority of those who are unhappily married but choose to stay married are happy 5 years later, while a majority of those who divorce are UNhappy 5 years later. Not all marriages can (or should) be saved, but a heck of a lot of them would be better off working through their differences than bailing in a fruitless search for a greener pasture.

  4. TEAM DIVORCE REGISTRY!!! says:

    I love the idea of divorce registries. And divorce parties. I’d live a divorce shower on the night I file, too. I’m thinking I need a couple of Divorcemaids. And I really could use a Best Man.

  5. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    I don’t understand. You think people should buy you a gift to commemorate the disolution of your marriage? Maybe we should all just keep a running registry of things we really want, but can’t afford. I’ve been with my spouse coming up on 25 years and no one is buying me a Dyson. You can buy a nice vacuum in the $250 range at Costco, which is what everyone who is not wealthy has to do. I’m not getting the idea that just because you need something and can’t afford it, someone should gift it to you.

  6. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    Also, durable goods (anything that is perfectly useful and can be washed in hot water) are super cheap and Goodwill or other Thrifts. I buy all that type of stuff there, even when I have money, because I don’t want to waste my resources. To me, it’s not about supporting or discouraging divorce (::eye roll:: shout out to @CW, ridiculous as always) but the it’s so entitled to think other people should purchase brand new things for you.

  7. AG says:

    CW, it must be very comforting for you to live in such a small, sheltered, ignorant little world. I hope you present your psychology credentials each time you spew crap like that.

    I think you’ve missed the point on this entirely. In no way does this article suggest people should be rewarded for divorce. All it is saying is that divorce happens and an unfortunate side effect is that you lose everyday stuff in the process. These items probably took a substantial amount of time and money to accumulate and you were most likely purchasing with the buying power of two.

    If you are so against the idea, then you don’t have to contribute to the Dyson fund. And I hope the individuals you’ve deemed worthy or pathetic enough in to have helped in the past (as you’ve stated) weren’t subject to your overly-opinionated rant in the process.

  8. LS says:

    Okay, I actually think this is sweet. When my mother and father divorced, all the old towels, the bedding, the things around the house that reminded my mother of a destructive and abusive relationship were a blessing to get rid of (not to mention the things that were taken when my father left!) My sister and I painted the bathroom a new color, helped her to wallpaper her bedroom and rearrange the room. We bought new towels, fresh linens, got her a set of dishes that were fresh and to her taste. It was a gift of love, helping her to rebuild and restart her life after a long and trying marriage. I don’t think its entitled to ask for help during a difficult time. Even if that help is “stuff.”

  9. Meagan says:

    Hmm I THINK this is a joke, but I’ll respond as though it were serious. The reason it won’t work is that every other occasion that uses a registry is one in which people want to buy you stuff to celebrate. The registry was born as a combination of genuine need (half your wedding guests calling you to ask what you want) and greed (making sure you don’t get stuck with any crap you don’t want). You can’t register for what you just want, or even need, or you can, but it’s pretty tacky. Now when someone ASKS what they can do to help, you could probably ask, is they know where you can pick up a cheap but dependable vacuum. You CANNOT ask them to buy you a $500 + novelty vacuum, at least not if you want them to stay your friend. You could put it on a WISHLIST which you can then give to anybody, and ONLY anybody, who asks for it.

  10. Carly says:

    Are you serious, people??? Holy totally inappropriate judgments. I’m assuming you have not the slightest idea of why Carolyn is divorced. And if you don’t want to help out your friends in their time of need, then don’t, and go ahead and buy yourself stuff I’m sure you may not even need but want, because, you know, you are a person and sometimes people deserve a break for just being, you know, people. Even if you are/may be a selfish and judgmental you-know-what. Buy it for Nordstrom’s or the Salvation Army or wherever, I don’t care, but quit judging other people for wanting to feel like, you know, a person, who deserves a break, in a time of need. Honestly.

  11. carolyncastiglia says:

    Hahaha Meagan, your emphasis is very entertaining. ASKS CANNOT WISHLIST ONLY. It’s gotta be difficult to live in your world.

  12. carolyncastiglia says:

    p.s. – The Dyson is on sale for $299! Does that change anything, Meagan?

  13. carolyncastiglia says:

    “And I really could use a Best Man” – hahahaha

    Also, CW – I truly honestly and deeply believe with all my heart that most people who divorce do so for legit reasons, not because they’re bored and want to screw other people.

  14. joslyngray says:

    I think this is a brilliant idea. My friends who have gotten divorced have done so after much thought, consideration, and counseling. They are certainly not “bailing in a fruitless search for a greener pasture.”

    As a friend, I’d like to be supportive of them taking a brave step toward greater happiness. I’d also like my friends to know that they haven’t lost their friends in the heart-wrenching process of divorce. And in a couple of specific cases, I’d like to celebrate with streamers and confetti that they’re free of misogynistic, cheating a-holes.

  15. Jackie says:

    I am beyond horrified for anyone creating a divorce registry. Such entitlement issues! You are a total burden to your friends and family. Trust me, no one on the receiving end of a divorce party shower invite is going to think its cute. Get some dignity. I am assuming this is a joke. Buy your own stuff and take responsibility for your life. And if you do desperately need help, ask for a hand me down. To ask anyone to buy you new stuff because you split up is outrageous.

  16. Mindy says:

    While I agree that marriage is something to fight for and save when you can, not everyone gets a happy ending, and I know personally many women who find themselves facing the “D” word without much choice in the matter. As someone who has been thorough it myself, I totally applaud the sentiment and would like to add that while divorce is not something to celebrate, friendship and support for someone going through one of the most devastating experiences of a lifetime is worth celebrating. I will never forget the love and kindness of some truly amazing women in my life who carried me through a very difficult time. I can never hope to repay the kindness shown to me during that difficult time in my life, but I can only hope that when given the opportunity I can give forward when I find someone else in a similar situation. Great post.

  17. Mindy says:

    While I agree that marriage is something to fight for and save when you can, not everyone gets a happy ending, and I know personally many women who find themselves facing the “D” word without much choice in the matter. As someone who has been thorough it myself, I totally applaud the sentiment and would like to add that while divorce is not something to celebrate, friendship and support for someone going through one of the most devastating experiences of a lifetime is worth celebrating. I will never forget the love and kindness of some truly amazing women in my life who carried me through a very difficult time. I can never hope to repay the kindness shown to me during that difficult time in my life, but I can only hope that when given the opportunity I can give forward when I find someone else in a similar situation. Great post.

  18. jenny tries too hard says:

    I thought the post was funny, and I abhor unnecessary divorce. Really, I like the Amazon wishlist for this reason. I can see using that to figure out what someone, like, say my idiot brother, needs after a divorce/breakup/roommate moving out. I’d probably just go “Okay, he needs a toaster” and then go buy a good-enough one elsewhere (Goodwill if he lived close) or dig linens out of my closet or whatever. MUCH nicer than calling up to ask, and having to listen to why she’s horrible for taking the bedsheets and how nice the old ones were and blah blah blah before I figure out what he actually does and doesn’t need. Then if I *want* to get a celebratory “Woot! You’re better off alone!” gift at the same time, it’s easy.

  19. carolyncastiglia says:

    Jackie – As if creating a wedding or baby registry involves any less entitlement! Ha.

  20. Carly says:

    As a matter of fact, I can think of several instances in which I would have rather given a person a divorce gift than a wedding gift.

  21. Meagan says:

    My world? I thought it was considered pretty standard etiquette to not force your wish list on anyone who might consider buying you a gift. Believe me, I would LOVE to give out suggestions over the next few years to guide people to nice classic toys for my baby rather than the mountain of plastic crap I fully expect, but I’m pretty clear on that falling into the rude category. Gifts are lovely, but they aren’t for the asking. And yes, wedding and baby registries are different because people expect them and frankly get kind of pissed if you fail to provide them. Perhaps my language was too strong, but I thought it was pretty clear that I was talking about acceptable social norms.

    And by the way, that is not to say I can’t see a future where those norms change, and divorce registries DID become a thing, but I don’t think it’s likely. Mind you, I have friends who I gladly would have bought a celebratory gift for upon their divorce, and who I happily helped out, during and after.

  22. Meagan says:

    Oh and for the record, I’m pretty happy in “my world,” thanks.

  23. Jackie says:

    Carolyn-people would be asking the same family and friends who probably already bought wedding shower gifts, wedding presents, baby shower gifts, etc. When does it end? I think its a funny gag, have a party with friends,get drunk. But dont take it seriously and actually shake people down for new stuff.

  24. carolyncastiglia says:

    Not necessarily. I actually have an entirely different friend group than I did when I was getting married, because I married so young. But the point isn’t about asking for stuff – it’s about getting the help you need. I think in this day and age of the microdonation, people are sort of interested in giving. I’m not proposing this idea as an “Ooh, fun, I get to shop now!” sort of solution. I think unless you’ve been divorced and know what it feels like to lose everything you worked so hard for, you probably can’t relate to the sentiment.

  25. Angie K says:

    Carolyn,

    I was being flip about the prospect of one more “required” party to plan or gift to buy. Not so much about you wanting your friends to help you move with your daughter. I would consider that much more a housewarming party or gift than for the divorce. I was a wedding photographer for a few years and now focus on babies and families. It’s amazing the marketing and money that goes into events…I was just picturing one more. And it made my head spin at the idea of it!!!
    A

  26. Meagan says:

    “The point isn’t about asking for stuff”
    That is the definition of a registry. And if its just about asking for the help you need, maybe try not asking for the vaccuum thats *on sale* for $300. A registry is ALL about throwing a big party and expecting people to buy you crap. Not about getting help.

    Honestly, I think you think I’m attacking you somehow, but I’m just arguing that a registry is inappropriate.

  27. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    “But the point isn’t about asking for stuff – it’s about getting the help you need.” Except a gift registry is pretty much the definition of “asking for stuff.” When I’ve had freinds with needs for various reasons (two were house fires) the community has rallied to get them things they need to carry one, but no one has expected friends to purchase them a new vacuum cleaner. Since it’s only $229, save for it and buy it yourself .That’s what grownups do.

  28. Meagan says:

    *high five Linda*

  29. sweetpea says:

    I am TOTALLY having a Divorce Party when my (horrible, bloody, and unreasonably drawn out) divorce is over! I’m gonna make a cake, it’ll be like a wedding cake, but the groom’s gonna be at the bottom, covered in strawberry sauce, and the bride gets the whole top tier to herself.

  30. Carole says:

    Those who have had the misfortune of going through a divorce would appreciate the DIVORCE PARTY/REGISTRY. I was married 27 years when I found out why my spouse (who was in the closet) made my life so misrable. Congrats to those with loving marriages/spouses…let those of us with a real reason for a divorce celebrate our freedom!

  31. Angela says:

    So sad how harsh and judgmental some of you are. My mother is going through a divorce and when she left her husband, my fiance and I took her shopping for almost all those things on that list. And we did it because we realized she was going to need basic items to get by, however, I would have loved if she had a wish list or registry. It would have been so much better if we could have surprised her, instead of asking her and taking her with us. And btw- sometimes divorce does deserve celebration. I know my mom deserved one. All the rest of you people who are passing judgement, I hope for your sake you are not married or never get divorced, because with the way you act, no one will help you. Its called paying it forward. (oh and who cares if its the same group of people who went to your wedding shower- friends are there to be supportive, in any way they can- whether that be emotional etc)

  32. Wing0125 says:

    I’m not really one to ask for stuff, but it was pretty difficult for me after a 15 year abusive relationship, where my ex fiance admitted to proposing to me so I wouldn’t leave. I originally went into the relationship with a bed, furniture, dining table, dishes, etc…. he took it all. He even took things he had purchased for me as gifts over the years or christmases and birthdays. Suddenly having to cover full rent on my own, all expenses, and a wonderfully insane debt-load left by my ex meant I didn’t turn on the heat unless I had people over, and being home as little as possible, as it was uncomfortably cold at home. If anything, it was still a celebration to finally part ways with a person who was controlling, and emotionally and physically abusive. I didn’t have anywhere to run for the longest time, and had no idea what could be done. Now I’m happily married to a wonderful man who makes it all worthwhile. I learned what I should never settle for in a relationship.

  33. Amanda says:

    I imagine that registering for a Dyson was more cathartic than out of any true expectation for someone to run out and buy it. I’ve never been married or divorced, but I’ve recently helped several friends pack up and get the heck out of Dodge. As a friend, who wants to help her friends when they’re going through hell, I thought this was a good article with several good, simple ways to help without saying “Let me know what I do.” Except for the Dyson, which just seems to be an overblown sticking point by now, nothing in the list of suggestions would make anyone bat an eye if it were framed as a housewarming gift.

  34. Yaya says:

    The idea of a divorce registry is not so far fetched. Why can’t we celebrate when we are finally smart enough to realize that something isn’t working and we have to move on? Most everyone sees divorce as a failure, but why don’t we first see the way our society thinks about marriage as the problem in the first place? Our country is rife with divorce because of the initial/traditional pressure to marry for the wrong reasons. You want to have a baby? Then you MUST marry or let us label you. You want to have companionship and love for years and years and some lawful security? Then MARRY or let us label you. I might chip in to buy a vacuum for a friend & not see her as a failure or the idea as the opposite of “lift yourself by your bootstraps and get your own friggin’ appliances.” Friends & family helping buy some items for people divorcing would be seen as “supportive & loving.” If you’re not up for that, then don’t help & keep buying gifts only every time someone gets married or is doing “the correct thing” in your eyes.

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