I am a divorcee. The only one in my family. Divorce is fairly common these days and it happens for all kinds of reasons. Being common and reasonable doesn’t make it any easier. One of my gorgeous yummy mummy friends is currently in the process of one and as would be expected she is nervous, excited, hopeful and stressed. Today at our favourite place in the whole wide world she mentioned that tonight will be the first night in her new house. After some digression, which included ordering cafe lattes, coffees, still waters and Barney juices, we got onto the topic of marriage, divorce and everything that happens in between. And we all agreed that the key to a happy marriage is separate bathrooms.
Separate bathrooms should be in pre-nups. They should form part of the marriage vows. In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in his and her bathrooms, I poo! I mean do!
This got me thinking back to my first marriage and one particular incident. As a young, broke married couple we lived in a teeny tiny townhouse. To this day I’m not sure why they call it a townhouse. A town is big. A house is big. A townhouse is not. It had two bedrooms and one bathroom, with the toilet and bath. It was a lazy Saturday morning. I had slunk out of bed and slithered into a relaxing bubble bath. I lay there listening to the birds chirping, the neighbours fighting, or lovemaking (it was hard to tell the difference) and the gardener mowing the lawn outside my window. Suddenly there was a knock on the plywood door. “Yes!” I said. “I need the toilet” came the voice from the other side. “Can’t you pee outside?” I asked hopefully. “It’s not a number 1” said the voice, “It’s a number 2!”. “Are you kidding?” I asked, even more hopeful.
You see, I think I have OCD and the idea of someone having a poo anywhere near me is fairly frightening. The idea of having someone in the same room as me, only a few centimetres away having a poo is mortifying. And especially my ex. He loves / loved pooing. He once told me how he had achieved (yes he spoke about bowel movements as achievements) his finest turd ever – it had reached all the way from his exit hole to the water in the toilet bowl without ‘breakage’.
So, the King of Crap burst into the bathroom, took a seat on his throne and started with his next achievement. I lay in the bath, face-cloth over face, sponge in each ear, looking the other way. I could hear him groaning and pushing and I could hear the groaning and pushing of the gardener with the lawnmower. “You know what?” I shouted rather loudly. “What?” said his Royal Rectum. “Right now the gardener is more attractive than you” I responded, a little quieter (I had removed the sponges from my ears). “Oh! Why?” asked the Tsar of Turds. “Well, I’ve never had to see him take a crap.” I said matter-of-factly. I swear, that moment right there was the beginning of the end.
A year or two later we moved into a new house where we had separate bathrooms. Soon after that we had separate bedrooms and eventually we had separate homes.
As far as divorces go, ours was relatively easy. There were no children so the split was clean and we could move on. What was strange was that friends and family had no idea how to deal with it. In sharp contrast to our wedding day where 120 guests danced, drank and celebrated, it was just the two of us when we signed our divorce papers, packed up our house and moved into our new homes. No one was there to help. I soon realized that people didn’t know what to say. It was like a death in the family and people were uncomfortable. My group of friends shrunk to a handful. The friends we shared disappeared. I had initiated the divorce so I was the bad guy. They chose his side. It got smaller still when my married friends suddenly saw me as a threat. A single divorce equalled desperate equalled (their) man-eater.
Thinking back now it was the worst of times but it was also the best of times. I changed my hair. I redecorated my new little home the way I wanted it. I walked around naked. I sang out loud. I slept in. I didn’t cook. I had cereal for dinner and pizza for breakfast. I drank milk straight out the bottle. I ate in bed. I worked in my garden. I danced in the lounge. I watched bad TV shows. I read a lot. I sprawled across my bed. I had gotten a do-over.
A divorce is indeed a death but it’s also a rebirth. My advice is mourn it. Celebrate it. Remember the good times and forget the bad. Hang onto the special things and trash the rest. Have no regrets of what was. Rather look ahead to what can be!