My Day in Divorce Court

When Doug and I got married, we promised each other we would never say the “D-word.”

We would never joke about it, mention it casually or ever, ever entertain the idea of it.

The “D-word” is divorce.

I’ve been lucky that the “D-word” has never elbowed its ugly way into my vocabulary.

I’m blessed in the marriage department, and I never lose sight of that fact.

Last week I went to divorce court, and was reminded once again of what a gift it is to be happily married.

A friend asked me to go with her to be her witness in her divorce case.

My job was to stand next to her and answer questions like, “Is it possible that the couple could reconcile?”

My rehearsed answer was, “No.”

Plaintiff after plaintiff stood up and said their marriages could not be salvaged.

Witness after witness stood and testified that they agreed with the plaintiffs — the couples absolutely could not reconcile.

I asked my friend if she was nervous.

She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It has to be done.”

One man stood up and when asked about the grounds for divorce, he said, “Abandonment. My wife left the country.”

I knew that he, like us, had rehearsed his answer and he said it without any emotion.

But I wondered about the emotional toll he experienced before he got to court.

What happened that got him to the point of reciting his answers so coolly?

A young, well-dressed, poised woman stood up confidently and answered all her attorney’s questions with a hint of fragility in her soft voice.

Then her attorney asked her witness to stand up, state her name and her relationship to the plaintiff.

The witness stood up, and then broke down sobbing and couldn’t regain control.

After a hug from the attorney, and a tender smile from the plaintiff, the woman managed to say her name and her relationship to the plaintiff.

“I’m her mother,” she said.

She cried and sniffled between words, but managed to say, like me, and all the other witnesses, that reconciliation was impossible.

“What happened to that daughter that broke that mother’s heart so much?” I wondered.

I hated thinking about it because even when my daughters experience a small hurt, my heart is severed.

As we drove home from the courthouse, I thought about how many other courtrooms across the country were filled with divorce cases that same day, and how many sad, broken-hearted, people had testified about failed marriages and irreconcilable differences.

I worry about all these people I don’t even know and the emotional, social and financial turbulence in all of their lives.

I wish I had the answer, the cure, the panacea to make all marriages happy, fulfilling, and loving.

Of course that doesn’t exist.

Life is not that generous.

So we all learn to take what we get in life and make the best of it.

In the end, all I can really do is cherish my own good marriage; and never forget what a phenomenal gift it is to go through life with someone I love and someone who loves me.

After my day in divorce court, I am recommitted to my promise to never say the “D-word” or ever even joke about it.

After seeing so many people get divorced in one day, and watching friends and family go through it, I know there is nothing funny about it.

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