Divorce can mean a lot of things—hurtful accusations, broken dreams, ugly custody battles, expensive legal fees. Now you can add two new items to the list: ceremonies and gift registries.

In London, the high prevalence of divorce has prompted the Debenhams department store, to start a "divorce registry" for friends to purchase gifts for newly separated couples—similar to the registry service for newlyweds and expecting parents. Elsewhere in the UK, at divorce fairs that offer counseling and mediation services for separating spouses, organizers have started adding non-religious ceremonies that encourage amicable separation.

Back across the Atlantic in the United States, a new book, Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture by Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, analyzes demographic data in every state. It specifically looks at trends in the "red states" (socially conservative, Southern and Western, Republican-voting) compared to "blue states" (socially liberal, Northern and coastal, Democratic-voting). While the book has drawn notice for its counterintuitive findings that the conservative "red states" have higher divorce and child-pregnancy rates than the liberal "blue states," it also reveals a larger overall trend: Divorce rates in America remain high no matter where you live.

As divorce becomes more common, Lisa Ling asks if we need to stop treating divorce as an end—and instead start thinking of it as the beginning of something else.
It's no secret that the divorce rate in the U.S. is soaring. I'm just 36 years old, and I know countless people my age who already have gotten married and divorced.

While the statistics provoke alarm in the minds of many—from academics to politicians to religious leaders—I actually find that the concept of divorce can be quite liberating, especially if it can be done amicably.

My parents divorced when I was 7 years old. Though it was a very difficult thing to go through as a child, I believe that—in retrospect—my parents' divorce was the best thing that ever happened to me.


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