With this ring, I thee divorce

Separation doesn’t have to be adversial. Some couples are seeking more meaningful ways to untie the knot.

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Published in United Church Observer in February 2015

When Rev. David Mundy’s parents divorced 40 years ago, his father, a United Church minister, stayed in his home congregation while his mother searched for a new church.

“She ended up feeling like she was persona non grata,” says Mundy, lead minister at Bridge Street United in Belleville, Ont. “Back then, there was really nothing to support people in the church who got divorced.”

Contrast this with the experience of Janice Meighan, a “rituals specialist” who performed a divorce ceremony five years ago for a Toronto couple in their 30s.

“They wanted it to be meaningful and didn’t want their friends and family to feel they had to take sides,” recalls Meighan, a member of West Hill United in Toronto. Her business, Rituals Without Borders, offers ceremonies commemorating everything from marriage to menopause.

The divorcing couple invited 50 people to the ceremony, which was followed by a wine and cheese reception. They spoke about the hopes they had when they first married and how tehy still cared for and respected each other.

Then they burned a copy of their marriage certificate in a glass bowl using the candle they had lit at their wedding. Guests were invited to contribute a flower to a special “bouquet of love and affection.”

At the end of the 45-minute service, the parting couple gave their wedding rings back to each other. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

If the idea of spouses dissolving their marriage in such a loving way sounds radically enlightened, well, even Meighan admits to a twinge of divorce-ceremony envy.

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