Anytime you become a member of one of life’s many clubs, you’re introduced to new terminology. When you’re planning a wedding, you start tossing around terms like registry and flatware. Parenthood brings forth birth plan and lactation consultant. In the divorce zone, the lingo includes custody, mediator, and spousal support (that last one sounds like an uncomfortable device you might have to learn to live with after an operation, doesn’t it?)
Well, I was thinking recently about some of these terms and how one might want to customize them to suit one’s particular needs. Here’s what I came up with:
•Joint Custody of Unpleasant Things. It’s easy enough to divvy up the days of the week and alternate important holidays with your spouse-turned-co-parent, but doing it that way is so random and risky. Either one of you could end up unwillingly accompanying one of your children to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, or amusing them on a snow day, based solely on whose day it happens to be. Instead, I like the idea of a more personalized approach to custody. For example: I take the kids when they have fevers or respiratory ailments, but R gets anything involving a malfunctioning digestive system. R would probably prefer not to be on-duty for either girl’s first period—so, fine, I’ll take that along with bra shopping if he agrees to field any questions about the male reproductive system. You get the idea.
•Mediator/Couple’s Therapist Who Admits She Likes You Better. Recently, a few of my pals who’ve done couple’s therapy shared a few tales. One guy said he probably would have stayed in his marriage if their therapist had just admitted that his wife was, indeed, wrong about one specific thing. We all totally got that. While the attempted neutrality of marital professionals is admirable, who are they kidding? They’re human, after all. In any triangle situation, someone’s the odd man or woman out even if he or she doesn’t know it. I, for one, could tell early on that our therapist knew which one of us was right about absolutely everything, and it’s so clear that our mediator feels the same way. Thank goodness I know how to interpret those subtle winks and facial gestures.
I wanted to come up with a third thing in this vein, but I couldn’t. So it’s your turn. Tell us: What’s your personal fantasy twist on the customs of separation and divorce?
Christina Frank lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her two daughters. She has written hundreds of articles for magazines, including Parenting, Health, Redbook, Good Housekeeping and Working Mother. Check out her blog Living in Splitsville: Notes on a Midlife Makeover.