I remember reading Rabbi Lionel Blue observing (which of his books I can’t remember so I will be paraphrasing) that most religions have a rite of passage for marriage. He seemed to be of the opinion that getting married was relatively easy compared to dissolving a marriage. When one gets married one usually rides on the good wishes of one’s community, and, perhaps, the psychological feelings of support from the marriage rite. One may also feel supported by the blessing of a higher power.
He observed that, if anything, people perhaps needed more support from their tradition and community at the dissolution of a marriage. When we get married we are full of love, goodwill, and hope. However the breakdown of a marriage easily unleashes the worst in us. Those going through the end of their marriage need the support of whatever belief system they hold to and their loved ones so that even if there is no hope of reconciliation, the hurt caused and the urge to hurt by and through the breakup will be less than it could have been. In short, you don’t need much goodness to get together, but you need as much as possible to break up.
Until recently I was unaware of any traditions that had ceremonies for ending a relationship. Such ceremonies do exist , but aren’t as well known as I feel they ought to be, so here are some links. This post may well be updated as I find more links to add.
- Divorce Rituals
- Ceremonies of Hope – Divorce rites in the Unitarian Universalist tradition
- An example of a Ceremony of Hope – from Beliefnet
Likewise here are some readings which may be helpful:
- The breakup of a marriage is a loss like the death of a spouse, and will often be mourned in closely parallel ways. There are some important distinctions: Divorce evokes more anger than death, and it is, of course, considerably more optional. But the sorrow and pining and yearning can be as intense. The denial and despair can be as intense. The guilt and self-reproach can be as intense. And the feeling of abandonment can be even more intense….Divorce can also strip those who have been left, of their sense of self. The completion of mourning can be harder too, for the problem of divorce is that we are both alive although the marriage is through and “the bereaved” must mourn someone who has not died. –Judith Viorst, Necessary Losses