WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new book by Wendy Paris called “Splitopia” challenges outdated, negative assumptions about divorce with honesty, research, and humor. It profiles people in positive, post-marriage relationships and follows Paris’s own divorce, as well as that of her parents.
Can there be a good divorce? Yes, says Wendy Paris, author of Splitopia: Dispatches from Today’s Good Divorce and How to Part Well (Simon & Schuster/Atria). Splitopia shows why it’s possible for couples from all walks of life to not just survive divorce, but thrive.
When Wendy Paris announced that she and her husband were separating, friends forecast devastation. But as Paris discovered, changes in laws and customs, advances in psychology, technology and child development, and a new understanding of the importance of the father have dramatically improved divorce.
Splitopia challenges outdated, negative assumptions about divorce with honesty, research, and humor. It profiles people in positive, post-marriage relationships and follows Paris’s own divorce, as well as that of her parents.
A belief that divorce must be a disaster for all can create just that outcome—and lead to escalating fighting, scarred children and court battles.
A good divorce:
Protects kids from the ongoing conflict of a bad split. Research shows that high conflict between parents is the most damaging factor for kids, whether parents are divorced—or married.
Uses a cooperative legal approach like mediation, collaborative divorce, or a DIY style, methods that save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and help former couples work together.
Protects adults from ongoing, unnecessary suffering and enables them to be attentive parents.
Paves the way for a healthy new love. Fighting from a messy divorce can destroy a second relationship.
Divorce brings inevitable challenges, but also very avoidable pain. Splitopia offers a road map for getting through, called
Seven Principles of Parting:
Commit to self-compassion
Take ownership of the future and the past
Don’t confuse filing with closure
Build a tool kit for the transition
Combat Anger with Empathy
Resist the Urge to Compare
Create Positive Moments
About two million people divorce in the United States each year. Every state now authorizes joint custody, meaning parents must cooperate throughout their children’s childhood. Splitopia calls for a more flexible view of how we wed and how we part, and offers support for creating loving families, whatever the legal relationship status.
Divorce is no one’s first choice, but as with other difficult, unwanted experiences, it can lead to growth, connection, and a fulfilling life.
WENDY PARIS is a journalist and essayist who has written for The New York Times, Psychology Today, The New York Observer, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, QZ.com, salon.com and other publications.