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Can you have a ‘polite’ split?

Divorce brings with it considerable pain and suffering under the best of circumstances. And with just under 40 percent of all first-time marriages in Canada reportedly ending in divorce, there’s a large section of the population dealing with the emotional fallout of marital problems.

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Divorce brings with it considerable pain and suffering under the best of circumstances. And with just under 40 percent of all first-time marriages in Canada reportedly ending in divorce, there’s a large section of the population dealing with the emotional fallout of marital problems. 

But is it possible to reduce the harm associated with the breakdown of a marriage by introducing a formal code of conduct, one that seeks to minimize upset by applying the golden rule? Can good manners make the difference between a broken heart and one that’s only bruised? UK etiquette expert Debrett’s seems to think so (via Daily Mail). 

The more than 300-year-old franchise is releasing its own Debrett’s Guide to Civilised Separation. The guide, set for release this February, comes with a hint of celebrity cachet—the divorce lawyers who represented Diana, Princess of Wales, were consulted in the writing of the manual. 

Advice ranges from how to tell friends and coworkers about a separation or divorce to how to maintain cordial relations with former in-laws and acquaintances. There is even advice on how to avoid becoming a bitter presence socially. According to the Independent on Sunday, the guide suggests taking along a “minder” to events where an ex will be to monitor “behaviour, alcohol intake and emotions.” 

The guide also urges the angry and embittered to resist the temptation to vandalize or abuse a former loved one’s possessions. The Independent on Sunday offers this excerpt: “Throwing your husband’s vintage wine collection down the loo or cutting his suits to shreds might seem like a therapeutic gesture when you’re in the throes of rage and despair, but it can rebound on you and undermine your case.” 

If your former spouse has neither a vintage wine collection nor bespoke suits to shred, however, it’s probably fair to assume that the collection of hockey-themed shot glasses and concert t-shirts are similarly off-limits. 

Can a guide to manners reduce the pain of separation and divorce? Probably not. But at the very least the time spent reading the optimistic advice may offer entertaining distraction.