The Bookworm Sez: ‘Splitopia’ takes a different look at divorce

You two have been fighting a lot lately.

There’s a lot of he said/she said going on. Blaming. Anger, too, and there’s simply no way you can go on like this: you may be heading for divorce court. You don’t even remember how this started, but with “Splitopia” by Wendy Paris (c.2016, Atria, $16.00, 336 pages), you can try to ensure that it ends well.

Wendy Paris’s friends were worried.

Paris says she’d been unhappily married “for years,” but when she finally announced that she and her husband were splitting, she “got pushback.” Friends asked if she was sure she wanted to proceed with divorce, citing statistics about finances, possible future misery, and her son’s well-being.

The truth is, divorce is nothing like it was 35 years ago, and stats from then are vastly different than those of today. Doctors now know that staying in a bad marriage can actually be detrimental to one’s health. No-fault divorce has “saved lives” and, as Paris learned to her surprise, it’s even possible to have a good divorce.

The first thing to remember, she says, is that divorce is “a transition, not a permanent state.” You may struggle with various things, but struggling won’t last. Also, forget about comparisons; just as every marriage is unique, so is every divorce.

If there are children in the mix, “we can let divorce challenge us to be better parents.” Work with your ex-spouse to ensure stability and a schedule that can be kept. Know honestly where parenting is on your list of priorities, even though it may be shocking. Learn to manage your feelings “while still protecting your children.”

Memorize the “Seven Principles of Parting,” and repeat daily. Cut your parents some slack when you announce your divorce, and know how to deal with any friends who suddenly disappear. Think hard about what kind of divorce you want; you may even be able to DIY. Finally, learn to be alone and like it, and embrace your new independence. You deserve that, don’t you?

For sure, “Splitopia” is absolutely crammed with good points, decent advice, and enough of author Wendy Paris’s personal life to keep the book moving. It’s entertaining, while also being useful. But will it help?

That will depend on the reader and the divorce.

Again, each divorce is different, but much of what’s here might be summed up in two words: Nice. Try. A lot to try, too; in fact, “Splitopia” could eventually seem like an exhausting attempt to touch upon everything that could possibly happen. Throughout, Paris advocates an openly honest split, of course, but her own story belies the breeziness of that advice and adds dubiousness to the meat of the book. Lastly, it’s assumed that everyone can remain level-headed and that money isn’t scarce.

And yet, that shouldn’t turn soon-to-be-exes away; the info here may be worth an attempt, at least at first. Patient, cautious readers may be delighted to know that this book, now in paperback, is useful … or they may start “Splitopia” and fight to get through it.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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