For those of you who faithfully read the Disney Princess Open Letters, thank you, and I hope that you were mildly entertained. I think it’s important to stress that my purpose in writing them was not to demonize any of the Disney Princesses per se, but rather to use them as really interesting case studies for understanding how divorces can get ugly, and what you can do to stop that happening, or at least limit it. It helps that the Disney franchise is more or less built on shaky marriages, but that’s another story for another time.
I also wanted to draw attention to some of the common issues that normal, non-animated people face as they prepare for a divorce: what to pay attention to, what to look out for, how to get your ducks in a row so you don’t get screwed.
I admit I also enjoyed thinking up what life would be like if the Disney princesses had “real” marriages, or ones that could have realistically resulted from what the movies depict. It just makes them more likable somehow.
Those of you who read will have noticed that I took some liberties with the princesses and their “happily ever after” lives. For those people to whom it’s important that the princesses and their princes stay happy forever and ever, I hope I haven’t offended you with my interpretation. I also hope you remember me when you decide it’s time to file for divorce because your own Prince Charming is buggering the scullery maid. Just kidding. That’s isn’t going to happen to you.
Also, don’t forget all the ones I didn’t write to; in large part, the princesses who didn’t appear are the ones I think might have figured out how to make it all work. Pocahontas? She didn’t get married in her movie, but I’m betting she’s marriage material. Mulan? She’ll find a nice man or woman to be with and live realistically ever after. There’s even hope for those Frozen kids. (Hey, I have kids, I know my Disney movies.)
For legal reasons, I need to point out that the Open Letters are not in any way affiliated with Disney, or Disney World, or even Pixar. I am strictly my own man on this front. A man who likes writing to Disney princesses.
In a way, it’s bad for my profession that the Disney empire is gradually learning to set a better example for kids about marriage maybe NOT being the ultimate goal of life. In another generation or so, I’m guessing the legal profession will take a bit of hit as kids stop internalizing the fairy tale idea that love conquers all, a gem that drives adult people through the first, sometimes second and even third marriages before it dawns on them that, no, actually, it doesn’t.
But thanks for keeping me in suspenders, Disney—for now.
I should also note that while I haven’t yet counseled any actual princesses, I have represented and counseled a lot of people who had essentially identical problems, minus the talking mice. If you found a smidgen of relatability in anything I’ve said and you want to find out what your options are, I’m available for that.
And if you think I went a little hard on Ariel, don’t be intimidated. She did get her divorce in the end, and while she didn’t walk away minted, she did get to keep all her thingamabobs.
James J Sexton