by Sheila Brennan~ Most of us remember The Brady Bunch show or more recently, the movie, about the two families who joined together to create the Brady Bunch. It was Mike Brady and his three sons and Carol with her three girls with hair of gold, the youngest one in curls. They seamlessly joined together with Alice, their housekeeper/cook/nanny/advice giver, to create this wonderful, blended family who resolved issues from week to week in less than 22 minutes. The kids all got along so well even though there were 3 kids to a bedroom. They made it look so easy. There were countless of blended families who looked to the Brady’s and hoped their unions would be as wonderful, loving and effortless.
Divorce, however, was portrayed in the media with Kramer v. Kramer and War of the Roses. People knew that divorce was war and destruction. We learned of “broken” families and people who never were able to “move on” because of the damage caused during a divorce.
Now the pendulum has swung in the other direction. People are expected to have The Brady Bunch divorce. You come together and publicly promise to love and honor, forsake all others, be true to one another – unless you both or one of you decides you want a divorce. You are told that you can mediate, collaborate, cooperate, or if necessary, litigate. People are familiar with mediation as a non-confrontational way to handle disagreements when there are opposing views. But what if you don’t agree on how you’ll parent the kids or how you’ll divide what you have or what you owe? What’s the best option for you as an individual, couple and family?
The Brady Bunch divorce urges people to divorce in a way that makes everyone from the outside think this pair is the “best divorced couple”. There is no place for disappointment, resentment, anger, frustration, or revenge with the Brady Bunch divorce. Everyone should cooperate and collaborate regarding the issues that emerge when the separation dust settles. You should be able to co-parent even if you never co-parented during your marriage. You should be welcoming to your spouse’s new partner and encourage the kids to create a bond and a strong relationship with that person.
This is unrealistic. Divorce is tough and emotional. There should be no shame around the feelings that are experienced. This is a painful time in one’s life. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll see the light before you enter the tunnel. You’re embarking new territory and without your partner, maybe for the first time. This is a scary period.
Mediate, collaborate or cooperate with your spouse to reach a reasonable agreement to end your union but don’t deny the feelings and emotions that you experience. Identify your feelings and work through them. This is the time to build yourself up, take care of yourself, ask for help, and set new boundaries for moving forward. Don’t berate yourself for feeling sadness or anger at the ending. Although this is a new beginning and could have huge potential on the other side, it is also a loss. Grieve in your personal way and live your life.
The Brady Bunch was TV; it wasn’t real. The Brady Bunch divorce is not real either. It is adults and children trying to figure out the best way to adapt to the changes in their lives. Give yourself, your spouse and your children the time and space to embrace these changes. It doesn’t happen overnight.