Divorce is the new marriage so why is it still frowned upon?
By Dr. Tara Wyne, D. Clin. Psy (UK) on 06/09/2016

As is often the case with Hollywood, the ideal tends to be front and center, held up as an impossible target for the masses, from fashion and diet to relationships and marriage, going back to the heyday of Grace Kelly marrying Prince Rainier III of Monaco 60 years ago. The idea of a Hollywood marriage brings to mind glitz, glam and grace. It is a type of marriage that the common man, or perhaps woman, used to aspire to.

However, with the front page of celebrity magazines heralding divorce more than marriage, it seems that in Hollywood at least, divorce is the new marriage. Is divorce the tragedy that it is often claimed to be?

Times have changed, and Hollywood – once the purveyor of “The One” and marriages that last until “death do us part” – is now showing that the end of a marriage is not necessarily a mark of failure, but can be the transformation of one type of relationship into something else that is equally healthy and positive.

Research and statistics show that although the breakdown of a relationship is difficult for everyone, divorce in itself is not necessarily the tragic end it was thought to be. As people live longer and co-parenting becomes the new norm, why then should people stay in unhappy relationships? Maybe it is time to take a page from Hollywood’s book on the ephemeral nature of relationships.

Dr Tara Wyne, clinical psychologist and clinic director at Lighthouse Arabia, says: “It is important to accept or acknowledge that the end of a committed relationship or marriage means that certain promises or commitments or dreams did not work out. It is the end of something, and people normally react to this by calling it a failure.

“But that’s just a shortcut for naming a much more complex situation. It could signify so many things, typically people evolving and no longer having compatibility of values or behavior. It can be that the bond weakened, love became empty like a habit.”

Often it can be about misalignment of values or long-term goals. So how can one move through a divorce so that both individuals and their children are as least scared as possible? We cannot dismiss celebrities such as actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who was derided for announcing that she and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin were “consciously uncoupling.” Half of marriages end in divorce, so it is critical to consider divorce as a viable option.

Dr Habib Sadeghi and Dr Sherry Sami write on Paltrow’s website Goop: “To change the concept of divorce, we need to release the belief structures we have around marriage that create rigidity in our thought process. The belief structure is the all-or-nothing idea that when we marry, it’s for life.

“The truth is, the only thing any of us have is today. Beyond that, there are no guarantees. The idea of being married to one person for life, especially without some level of awareness of our unresolved emotional needs, is too much pressure for anyone.”

Two partners separating can be seen as a step toward a more healthy relationship. Dr Vanessa Bokanowski, a clinical psychologist and therapist in Dubai, says: “Separations and divorces after a long-lasting marriage or relationship can actually be lifesaving rather than always be seen as a failure.”

The most important thing is how the couple treats each other as they separate. “Lifesaving break ups need a consensus, with the ability to manage the separation in a constructive way,” Bokanowski says. “A kind of love is preserved with a mutual respect for one another, but with the understanding that this love is now different and comes with mutual self-respect.”