Spoiler alert: This week's season finale of Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce concluded with a rekindling of the two main characters, Abby and Jake, following an emotional cocktail date to ink the divorce papers. (Since this is Hollywood, this was followed up with a potential glitch.)
As an advocate for women in any stage of divorce, I'd ordinarily cringe at the notion that two people could turn back a "conscious uncoupling." Divorce is generally a long time coming and a couple of vodka tonics don't typically assuage the struggles, issues, and that which can't be fixed.
Still, I never really bought into the breakup of these two characters who seemed to still be in love. If you've missed the season, relationship guru and best-selling author Abby McCarthy has to rebrand her writing franchise and her personal life when she and her former stay at home-ish aspiring director husband Jake split.
In one episode, Abby advises a girlfriend that divorce opens so many possibilities. "I know you're going through an incredibly hard time, but I promise you there is so much good on the other side of it," she says. The perception that marriage means a death of possibilities is hopelessly depressing. I'd like to believe within a loving and healthy relationship, the door remains at least partially open to growth and adventure.
Divorce does shake the branches so you're scrambling to define yourself without a partner. In marriage, we women tend to relinquish part of ourselves for our roles as wives and perhaps mothers. When one side of that triangle is missing, we may clamber to find our way back to the people we were on our own.
I'm all for creating meaning from experiences, especially those which may have left us somewhat scarred and disappointed. I've reimagined my life following divorce and am hitting goals I've never dreamed I could. I sometimes wonder if I'd have hit my mark had I not gone through a divorce.
Change is hard work, requiring a certain amount of courage. Complacency can live comfortably within the security of a relationship but when you're pushed out of that sort-of safe place, you've got to figure out who you are without the ring on your fourth finger.
People aren't static. Marriage, parenting, loss of a parent or friend, yoga, therapy can all change how we see ourselves and engage in the world around us. When one or both halves of the couple change, the marriage must evolve.
In the worst case scenarios, one partner shifts to accommodate the other's fantasy of what a wife or husband should be. When one folds into the demands of the other, the stunted partner becomes a shell of whom she once was and any self-awareness or shift is likely met with disapproval. The best relationships are between two people who respect each other's similarities and differences.
The topic of transformation following divorce often leaves me wondering. Do we need attorneys, custody arrangements, and divorce parties to evolve or reconnect with our authentic selves? Can we change without imploding a relationship?
I suspect that depends on the strength and confidence of the people involved.