Dateland: My Divorce


A few days after same-sex marriage became legal nationwide, I got divorced. Or, at least, I tried to get divorced. Turns out divorce isn’t nearly as easy as getting married. Or, in my case, civil unionized.

My ex and I decided to get a civil union two years ago, in Michigan. We were going on a trip to Alaska and I was fairly certain one of us would be eaten by a bear. And since her insurance was about to expire, we decided to civil union so she could hop onto mine.

Yep, we were just a couple of hopeless romantics.

Now, mind you, at that point we planned on marrying someday, though the concept was far more appealing to her than to me. I thought marriage was stupid. I’ve since changed my mind. But we’ll save that for another column.

Because we intended to marry after it became legal nationwide, we decided to keep the civil union low-key. We had our civil union in the basement of a courthouse and we didn’t invite anyone to the ceremony. Then we went to Alaska and neither of us got eaten by a bear, which, frankly, really made me question the wisdom of our civil union.

Then, earlier this year, we split up. It was as unromantic as our civil union ceremony. We had one big fight, mainly because it would be uncivilized not to, and then agreed that we still liked each other and would remain friends. Because we didn’t mingle bank accounts or property, there were no battles over material stuff.

Almost immediately, we ran off in separate directions and fell in love with partners much more suited for us. I reconnected with my first love — a woman I’ve been in love with for 25 years. (Spoiler alert: this is why I now think that marriage is an awesome idea!)

Best of all, we were both happy that we each found love so easily. It felt so sophisticated. Like we were characters in a Noel Coward play.

So, best breakup ever, right?

Yeah, I thought so, too. Until I remembered that we had to get divorced.

If you’ve never divorced anyone before, I want you to try this fun exercise: go online and find all the documents you need to execute a self-divorce.

How long did that take you? About 10 hours or so? Are you drinking and very depressed? Well, if not, you should be. I was going through the most happy divorce in history and the process of hunting down all the papers pushed me into the depths of despair.

Then, of course, there were the repeated trips to the Clerk of Court, who takes sadistic pleasure in reporting which documents are missing from your packet (they seemingly create new ones daily). And sending you home on the fool’s mission to find the missing forms.

Finally, you show up at the court with all your paperwork. But wait! There’s one final form you have to fill out on the spot. But, of course, the pens they have chained to the counter have run out of ink. All of them!

I turn to a woman who had earlier confided that this was her 12th trip to the clerk’s office. She fished around her purse and triumphantly produced a pen.

The clerk, who earlier had watched in delight as I desperately shook each dead pen in an attempt to fill out the final form, scowled at my victory. Defeated, he had no choice but to collect my papers.

As I type this column, I’m celebrating at an outdoor beer garden. I’m thrilled. Not because I’m divorced. That’s pretty sad. Not even because I’m now free to be with the love of my life. Although I really am! Mainly, because I’m done with that #$%^@ paperwork.  

So, now that we can marry, keep this in mind: marry only for love. Never use it to game the system. The system knows your soul better than any mate you’ll ever choose, and it eventually will exact its revenge.

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