Divorce Lessons From the Real Housewives of Orange County

Everyone has their favorite nutso reality wives, and the Real Housewives of Orange County are (one of) mine. Each season is chock-full of WTF-ery, and this season’s no exception. Not only are they full of drama, silicone and alcohol, but they’ve also been keeping us divorce lawyers busy for ten seasons now. Just how many divorces have these ladies left in their wake? Let’s take a look.

Vicki Gunvalson – 2

Tamra Judge – 2

Alexis Bellino – 1

Gretchen Rossi – 1

Shannon Beador – 0

Heather Dubrow – 0

Jeana Keough – 1

Lauri Waring – 2

Lizzie Rovsek – 0

Lydia McLaughlin – 0

Lynne Curtin – 1

Jo De La Rosa – 0

Quinn Fry – 1

Tammy Knickerbocker – 1

Peggy Tanous – 1

Kimberly Bryant – 0

Meghan King Edmonds – 0

That’s a total of 13 divorces! That’s a lot of summer homes, European vacations, and botox parties for my Californian colleagues. A lot of divorces yes, but none should be seen as anything but a learning experience, especially for viewers. Here are some important lessons we can learn from those spray-tanned, bejeweled top wearing, medically “enhanced” housewives:

1. Be honest about, and in the loop regarding your finances.
Lynne was blindsided by an eviction notice and a shocking confession from her husband regarding their dwindling bank accounts. Do not be Lynne. Do not assume bills are being paid and all is right with your family’s books. Even if you’re not the breadwinner, there is no reason you shouldn’t be totally on top of your family’s finances. Know your bills, know your bank accounts, know what’s coming in and what’s going out.

2. Divorce should be an option.
This season we’ve got a front row seat to Shannon’s marital troubles. From couples retreats to staged fake funerals, Shannon and husband David are really trying to save their marriage. Shannon keeps insisting “divorce isn’t an option.” Well, she doesn’t have to take it, but it should at least be an option. If they cannot make it through their problems, there is no reason they must stay together. It is a myth that staying together is better for the kids. Giving the kids a healthy, emotionally balanced household, or households as it were, should be the top priority. Screaming matches, miserable parents and growing resentment are all perhaps much worse than the divorce Shannon refuses to entertain.

3. Have a prenup! 
Vicki’s messy divorce from Don dragged on and on as they hammered out the details of their split, including the fight over spousal support. Not having a prenup can really cost you, as Vicki found out the hard way. Prenups don’t “ruin the romance,” they prepare you for the future because this is real life, not a fairytale. If your prenup never becomes applicable, great! If it does, you’ll thank yourself for having the safety net.

4. Don’t date Slade. Just don’t. Don’t.
Even if you had a time machine to take you back to his Amex- Black-Card-literally-setting-money-on-fire-with-idiotic-collectibles days from Season One it’s just not worth it. Just ask Jo who, you may have noticed, is now, post-Slade, far more likely to actually need that ridiculous maid costume for work as a real maid.

5. If financially possible, don’t live in the same house once you’ve decided to break up.
Jeana lived with Matt long after they decided to split. It was awkward and prevented Jeana from moving on with her life. When you split, hit the bricks if at all possible. Start fresh somewhere new, or have your ex-partner do it.

6. If it’s important to you, fight for it. 
Whether it’s the house, custody of the kids or the dogs (looking at you Gretchen), or anything else that means the world to a you, don’t give up the fight. Tamra had a bitter, drawn out custody battle with Simon that left her in tears throughout many episodes. But she kept fighting, and according to interviews she’s pleased with the final result.

7. The third time might just be the charm. 
One divorce may not be enough to get long lasting happiness; sometimes it takes two. Lauri, Vicki and Tamra all seem to have found love the third time around. While Tamra and Lauri went through with a third wedding, Vicki seems to be happy just living with Brooks (for the purposes of this lesson, please ignore all the Brooks turmoil, nod your head in agreement, and move onto the next lesson).

8. Don’t lose yourself in your marriage. 
If the housewives can teach us anything, it’s that keeping a sense of self is paramount to happiness. Design that jewelry, swimwear or dress line. Take a job on the “news,” start a wine club or develop a line of vodka. Whatever it is pursue your interests and if you can turn that pursuit into a paycheck, all the better for your post-divorce life!

9. If you’re having relationship troubles, don’t sign up for a reality television show. 
In no way will it help. Look at the dozens and dozens of reality divorces that preceded your relationship troubles. You are not somehow different from them. That kind of magnifying glass could shake up even the strongest of relationships. Pop the popcorn, change into your pjs and get comfy on the couch. It’s much better being on this side of the TV.

What valuable marriage and divorce lessons have the ladies of the OC taught you? Tweet me or leave it in the comments below!