It was a typical family celebration, except that between the happy couple who hosted this festive occasion, their parents, aunts, uncles and siblings, 14 people in all, 14 divorces were represented –(one person had 2, and one had none). All are now in happy, committed relationships: some marriages , some relationships of long-standing, and some new pairings. Of all those divorced couples, both sides of several key players were together in the same room: the couple itself- my niece (E) and her new husband, her ex (B) and his new wife, all of whom co-parent the young man and co-hosted the party. Up the generational tree, her father and his new wife, her mother and her mother’s new husband were also there. B’s mother and her new husband attended, as did (B)’s father and his new wife.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that this is remarkable today, in regard to the number of divorces in one extended, mature family. What I am proud of, as it’s my family and my statistics are in the mix, is that we were all able to join together to celebrate the coming of age of my niece’s young son. In the same room, amicably, even warmly, across the board. No fireworks were present. No tears were shed in anger or in hurt. No voices were raised, other than to cry ‘Mazel Tov!’ No drama showed up, other than the performance of the young man in the spotlight, as he carried out his Bar Mitzvah responsibilities with ease and confidence.
Several of us who had not seen each other in a decade and a half, were happy to see our counterparts ‘on the other side’ and greeted each other with joy and friendship.
What makes us different? What magic have we all found, to be able to put away the conflict and ill-feeling that accompanies most divorces, and find companionship with one another?
Well, for one thing, for the grandparents, it’s been a while. They have all found new partners, and have been in their relationships for 20 + years. Over time, with some introspection and hard work, the anger has gone, the sharpness of hurt has softened, forgiveness and compassion have come to take their place. For the younger parents, for whom the separation is of much shorter duration, new loves now fill their hearts. They have consciously chosen to cooperate, to make their children’s lives easier- and their own, as well.
As those whose maturity has brought some wisdom know, forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself first- and then it follows to others.
For that special weekend of celebration, we were all beneficiaries of that gift. And we have now passed on to that gift to the next generation, as a model to follow.