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Dreams and divorce

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When the American screenwriter and film director Nora Ephron died last year, I shared my thoughts about her life here on the blog. Perhaps best known for popular romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless In Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, she was also a talented and witty essayist, journalist and novelist, with many interesting things to say about life, love and divorce.

She was also the oldest of four sisters, and two, Delia and Amy, grew up to….also be authors and screenwriters! Another sister, Hallie, is a novelist and journalist!

Isn’t that so often the way? Talents so often run in families, although whether they pass down the genes or simply arise from the environment surrounding children as they grown up, I couldn’t say. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

The sisters’ parents were both – you guessed it – screenwriters and playwrights!

Delia’s latest work, Sister Mother Husband Dog (Etc.), is a collection of essays exploring her life and views on everything from life in the city to dogs. One essay sets out her feelings about the death of her older sister.

Earlier this week, Delia appeared on HuffPost Live to talk about the book. During the course of the interview, talk turned to her first marriage (like Amy, she has been married twice, while Nora was married three times).

Delia told the interviewer:

“You have to divorce someone if they’re crushing your dreams. That is just a given.”

Delia’s first husband, a university professor, didn’t like the idea of his wife becoming a writer, she remembered.

“And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘I don’t want you to be famous. Suppose you become famous.’ So I said, ‘I promise I won’t be famous.'”

‘Crushing your dreams’ –it sounds terribly dramatic, doesn’t it? Almost as bad as having an affair, perhaps, or having a screaming row over the dinner plates every night. But actually, the destruction of dreams can be a subtle process, a slow chipping away at cherished goals year after year. Slow, subtle and easy to miss. Some people go for years without ever realising what has happened. And then one day, realisation arrives like a lightning strike and they realise just how unhappy they are, perhaps decades down the line into their dysfunctional marriage.

So I say kudos to Delia, for realising that she and her first husband were not going to work – for the simple and far-reaching reason that he did not respect her dreams. Nora’s younger sister moved on and she has now been married to her second husband for an impressive 31 years.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    Marilyn, Nora Ephron also said this:

    “The desire to get married is a basic and primal instinct in women. It’s followed by another basic and primal instinct: the desire to be single again.”
    ― Nora Ephron

    I agree with her.

    2/3 of marriages are ended by women and but for fear of the unknown I think that figure would be even greater – it’s another reason why I think men with the current divorce laws are crazy to marry – most women are not naturally designed to stay the course, they will probably want out a number of years down the line.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think men are designed for it either, but with the current laws it is financially more difficult for them to get out.

    I can only name one friend who has a marriage that works well, the rest quietly regret marrying but have kids and accept their lot – except one guy who is not very masculine (it takes all sorts!) and frankly likes being ‘under the thumb’ 🙂

    Mind you, that one marriage that works well is one where they have never wanted kids, so I am not quite sure why they are married anyway, however, thinking about it they are very religious so perhaps that is it.

  2. Stitchedup says:

    Luke – “2/3 of marriages are ended by women”

    That matches the figures I have seen – 68% (approx. 2/3) of divorces initiated by women, 28% jointly, only 4% initiated by Men. Modern women are simply not committed to Marriage, they know they can jump from relationship to relationship and generally make a profit.

  3. Stitchedup says:

    I have to say, I find the article very sad. All we seem to hear about are the selfish self centred wants of women not being met by men.

    “the destruction of dreams can be a subtle process, a slow chipping away at cherished goals year after year.”

    The fact is Marilyn, the clock is always ticking. We all have dreams but we can’t always achieve those dreams within the timescales we set ourselves.

    “And then one day, realisation arrives like a lightning strike and they realise just how unhappy they are, perhaps decades down the line into their dysfunctional marriage.”

    I think what you are describing here is what is commonly known as a mid-life crisis.

    Why are people always looking to justify divorce??

  4. Yvie says:

    I don’t think my son would consider marriage a second time. It seems to be a very risky undertaking with many women with an eye to business, with a view to improving their financial status and then moving on. They seem to have no difficulty severing their own relationships with their ex partners, and while there is child benefit etc. to be had, they have no hesitation in severing the relationships of the children and their fathers.

  5. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    I agree 100% that you have to be true to yourself and to your dreams. If your spouse truly genuinely loves you, then they ought to support your dreams as well.

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