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Ocean

Ritual for Ending a Marriage

This ritual is intended to commemorate the release of a spouse--emotionally and spiritually--from a marriage. You may do it with your coach, a trusted friend, or your former spouse. Use it and adjust it, as you see fit.

 

Opening

 

Coach/Officiant: Your marriage has ended. As you move into the next chapter of your life/lives, please carry pieces from your marriage as well as hopes for new wholeness. One does not exist without the other. Please honor them both. At your wedding you vowed to yourselves, and to each other, that you would share loving kindness and compassion. May those same qualities be present as you disentangle your lives and separate from one another.

 

Failing and Flying

a poem by Jack Gilbert

 

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.

It’s the same when love comes to an end, or a marriage fails. People say they knew it was a mistake, everybody said it would never work. She was old enough to know better.

But anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

Like being there by that summer ocean on the other side of the island while love was fading out of her, the stars burning so extravagantly those nights that anyone could tell you they would never last.

Every morning she was asleep in my bed like a visitation, the gentleness in her like antelope standing in the dawn mist.

Each afternoon I watched her coming back through the hot stony field after swimming, the sea light behind her and the huge sky on the other side of that.

Listened to her while we ate lunch. How can they say the marriage failed?

Like the people who came back from Provence (when it was Provence) and said it was pretty, but the food was greasy.

I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, but just coming to the end of his triumph.

 

A Different Time

 

At this time each spouse should think about the good times. And make a note of three things that you will miss about your spouse.

Now, think about the bad times. And make a note of three things that you will NOT miss about your spouse. Do any of these things need to be shared with your spouse? Only share if you can do it with humor and love.

 

Prayer of Forgiveness

 

I [Name] forgive you [Name] for any injuries sustained over the course of our relationship, whether by accident, willfully, carelessly, or purposely with words, deeds, thoughts, actions, or attitudes, now or in the past. I [Name] ask that you forgive me for any injuries sustained over the course of our relationship, whether by accident, willfully, carelessly, or purposely with words, deeds, thoughts, actions, or attitudes, now or in the past. May you not experience harm because of me. May the words of my mouth and in my heart be acceptable to you and accepting of you.

 

New Beginning for Co-Parents

 

Coach or Officiant: Every ending is a new beginning. Although you are no longer married in the eyes of your community, you will always be co-parents to your child/ren. I invite you to share promises with each other as co-parents. The former partners read:

For the sake of our child/ren:

  •  I promise to keep our child/ren's needs at the forefront.

  •  I promise never to speak ill of you to our child/ren.

  •  I promise to maintain a healthy boundary as we co-parent from separate households.

  •  I promise to be as generous and flexible as life will permit.

  •  I promise to revisit our child/ren’s living (and other) arrangements, so that we can adapt our practices to meet the changing needs of our growing child/ren.

  •  I promise to do everything in my power to maintain a friendly relationship with you so that we can share in our child/ren's joys and sorrows.

 

Writing the release

 

Each partner writes: On [Date], in [Place], I, [Name], do willingly consent to release you, my wife/husband [Name]. We are no longer bound together. If you so choose, you may remarry freely. Your doorway is no longer my doorway. Wherever life takes you, may you go in peace.

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