There are a million reasons relationships don’t work out, but most marriages fall into one of two fundamental categories:
- either both people realize the marriage is over and want out, or
- one person wants out while the other wants to keep working on the relationship.
No one’s jonesing to be part of either of these groups, but one could argue scenario B is a rougher road. Someone is really going to get their heart stomped on in group B. If you are the leaver, you have most likely realized for the good of your well being and sanity you must get out of your relationship. And look at you! Way to make a decision instead of cheating on your husband for a decade and lying to everyone you know.
If you’re the one left behind, I am so sorry, can I buy you a pizza? I swear you are prettier and more interesting than Sheila in accounting and I don’t know why Dan left you for her, but you are better without him, and again, can I get you a pizza? I feel like if you had some pizza, this would be less awkward because life’s a bummer and people are sometimes the worst, and it’d be great if everyone tried a little harder to be nicer.
If you didn’t know, (why would you know?) March 3rd was “I Want You To Be Happy Day.” I don’t know why there’s an international taco day, or a national taco day, or a hug your pets day, or a hug your pets on international taco day which happens to also be national taco day. I don’t know who comes up with these things, but if it’s a paid job, someone let me know where I can send my resume because I would be all over that nonsense. “I Want You To Be Happy Day” is meant to be a day of giving, helping, and generally being unselfish — all good things to be, for more than just one day out of the year.
It’s hard to be the bigger person, especially when you have an arsenal of sick, sick burns inside of you. Being the bigger person takes humility and self control, both of which don’t seem to be abundant in today’s world. It’s hard to be humble when there’s so much bragging to do on Facebook, am I right? It’s hard to have self control when a biting tweet going viral is just a little brainstorm away. So, I reject “I Want You To Be Happy Day” because one day isn’t enough to address the serious problem of the pandemic levels of jerkiness committed by us and against us in everyday life. I reject the day and call upon you to embrace the year, decade or century of being nicer.
A divorce is a great opportunity to really challenge yourself to be better. The bliss of embarrassing someone with a perfect cutting remark is fleeting. The general good vibe you get from being kind lasts, and can also can build into a long term sense of smugness no one can ever question. Because what can they do? Criticize you for being too civil to Dan and his new wife Sheila? Oh, sorry Brandon, I’m just a pretty ok person who knows everyone is better off now and I can accept and embrace that, not like when you and Erica broke up. You were just so rude to her, I mean I get it, but that’s just not me, man. Dan’s happiness is all our happiness, you know, Brandon? Ah, feel that? Feel the warm rays of smugness upon your body? Embrace it. That’s what happens when you want others to be happy.
How can you implement this in your daily life? Here are some ideas.
Don’t Act Like A Republican Presidential Candidate.
This one’s pretty simple. Don’t regress into a petty, childish seventh grader. Don’t allude to to an ex-spouse’s small penis size, imply they’ve pissed themselves, point out a poor fake tan color choice, draw attention to an excessive sweating problem, call them a phony/fraud/liar, or claim they have low energy. If you do any of the above, you will not only look like a moron, you will also feel like garbage. And you don’t want either of those things, because those things are the job of the next leader of the free world.
Who are you making happy? Your parents. They no longer have to scold you for “raising you better than that.”
Solve An Important Mystery.
First, quit your job and take an unpaid internship in the film industry. Over the course of sixteen months, work your way into PA jobs on several lower budget movies. Do really good work and impress a few people on set. Make friends with them so they call you up to work on bigger projects. Go to film school at night and during your days off. Put together an impressive reel and land an agent through your PA buddies’ contacts. Do a few short films that do well at several international festivals. Have a few mid-level people at big studios take notice. Land a meeting with one of those people. Dazzle them. Get hired for a few smaller features. Work more, work harder. Land a huge summer blockbuster starring Reese Witherspoon. On day one, take Reese aside and ask her what the hell movie she was talking about when she said “Oh, that’s where we’re at? You’re fighting to be the girlfriend in a dumb comedy? For what?’ And by the way, two Oscar winners did it. I was like, I’ve got to do something.” Was it No Strings Attached? It was No Strings Attached, right? Kate Aurthur from Buzzfeed thinks it’s No Strings Attached. Ask Reese, find out the answer, quit the movie and the business and walk off set. Call your ex and tell them, “Yep, No Strings Attached, we were right!” Then tweet it and @ me, and Kate Aurthur and the whole world because seriously Reese, what was it?No Strings Attached right?
Who are you making happy? All of us.
Stop Airing Your Dirty Laundry, Unless It’s Really Interesting.
There’s an expiration date for complaining about a dissolved relationship. It is six months. If you are still complaining about a long gone relationship past the six month mark, all of your friends are going to get annoyed and bored. We all love a little gossip. Some of us love a lot of gossip. When it’s stale gossip that you’ve heard nineteen times since last summer, no one likes it. So either find something juicier you forgot to mention, or get caught up on Vanderpump Rules so we can all enjoy the conversation.
Who are you making happy? All of your friends, your hairdresser, the coffee cart guy, your dry cleaner, the grocery store clerk, and cab drivers who also happen to be strangers.
Actively Try To Let Go Of The Past.
I’m going to give you what you’ve been searching for since your marriage broke up. Ready? Here goes… You are right. You’re right about all of it. Every tiny thing on the miles’ long mental list of the ways you were right and s/he was wrong, I agree with you. I’m giving you the validation you’ve been longing for, and I am proving you weren’t crazy this whole time. There. Now let it gooooooooo…
Who are you making happy? Your boss. Now you can finally concentrate on your work again, instead of clicking through your honeymoon pictures trying to spot where exactly it all went wrong, again and again and again.
I know! It’s so hard! But if you don’t forgive, you cannot move on. What do you gain from holding grudges? An ulcer? Great, so you’ve got the grudges but you have to forgo delicious Mexican food? Who is winning in that scenario? I’m not suggesting this will be easy. It might be the hardest part of your divorce journey, but the benefits cannot be denied. When you forgive, it’s like hitting the reset button. The dark clouds shift and the ice starts to melt and you can make a really, really, embarrassingly cheesy spectacle out of it. Tie a name to a balloon and let it float away. Burn memorabilia in a safe, well ventilated environment. Hack your wedding outfit to shreds. Do that stuff then say insufferable things like, “let go and let god” or “I’m truly at peace now” or “love and light.” You will probably go through a two to four week period in which you want to wear only flowing robes because you are centered and enlightened, so just go with it.
Who are you making happy? Your doctor, your stomach lining, and the flowing robes industry.
*Quick side note: if your former partner was really horrible, like legitimately, legally, penitentiary bad, forgiving them does not excuse them for what they did. You were right, what they did was wrong, and I hope there is just punishment for it. But you can forgive this person. You don’t have to wash away all their sins, that’s between them and the legal system or the god of their choosing, but you can unshackle yourself from the trauma.
Ha! You thought forgiving others was hard, well welcome to the nightmare of forgiving yourself! You think you might be having a good day then in an innocuous, quiet moment when you’re waiting for your sandwich at the deli, the really rude part of your brain will list off all of your greatest failures. Every wrong word you spoke, every time you were cruel or petty, every mistake you made. A real comprehensive montage will roll through your brain and you’ll feel nauseated and you won’t even want the $14 sandwich with avocado you just splashed out for. There is no way to silence the jerk in your brain forever, no matter how much bourbon you try to drown him in. So what can you do? You can try to be nicer to yourself. You can cut yourself a break, because while you hold yourself to really high standards, you are still a human being and as such you make mistakes. Do things that make you feel proud of yourself. Help others. Try to learn from mistakes and try to stop repeating them. Try to be kind to others and hope happiness spreads like an infection and lifts you up along the way.
Who are you making happy? First yourself, then others, then… the whole world?