By Christy Williams MIND RISE

Let’s Talk About The Stupid, Jerkface Language Of Divorce


I’m struggling with the words that go along with divorce.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve even said the word divorce out loud. I’ve only written it. I just doesn’t feel right to me – it doesn’t feel like it describes us or our family’s situation.

We didn’t even want to use it when we told our kids, and I didn’t use it when I told my side of the family. I think I mostly say that we are splitting up. But why? Why does it bother me so much?

For the most part, I think it’s because of the negative connotations that go along with it. There aren’t a lot of amicable divorces around – or maybe we just don’t hear about them or see them. And I get it. There’s a lot of hurt involved. It’s hard to get past the anger and sadness and disappointment that comes with ending a marriage.

And for our kids, we really didn’t want to use the word because they might have extreme examples in their heads from televisions shows, books, movies — or from their friends’ divorced parents who are struggling to even be in the same room together or have a civil conversation.

So “splitting up” has been my go-to euphemism. Author Glennon Doyle has written that her kids call her divorce from their father, “the plot twist” – which she kinda loved since she’s a writer. Me too.

But I think the first time I even realized that a divorce could not only be amicable, but actually a loving and conscious process, was when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin jointly announced their “conscious uncoupling.” A lot of people ridiculed them and mocked them for using that phrase – but I didn’t. I got it. I totally understood.

It opened my eyes to a new way of looking at something that had historically been considered devastating and tragic – and turned it into another opportunity for growth in our journey together as a family. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been hurt or anger or sadness for us – only that we are trying to consciously put that aside as we navigate this transition in the most loving way possible. For our kids and for us. I still love the idea of “conscious uncoupling.”

I also get my feathers ruffled when I hear someone refer to anyone’s “failed marriage.” If someone wants to say that about their own marriage, that’s their prerogative – but I swear if anyone says that about mine, I might actually throat-punch them.

Because what does that even mean? We were married for 25 years…but because we weren’t married for 30 or 50 years, it’s a failed marriage? It’s such bunk.

Personally, I believe in soul contracts, and I believe that as a couple, we came together to learn certain lessons and be together for a certain amount of time, and create the children we created. I have no doubt that our children were supposed to come into this world. And the life that we had together for 25 years is anything but a failure.

We ended our marriage. We completed our marriage. But our marriage did not fail.

The other thing I’m struggling with is what to call each other. I really have no ideas on what to do for this one. Most people say “my ex” and I get it. It’s short and easy and…I still just hate the negative connotation. Somewhere, I heard someone use the term “wasband,” and it made me chuckle. But since it rhymes with husband, I think it would be even more confusing for people – and I’d have to explain it all the time. I love blended families who call new spouses “bonus mom” or “bonus dad.” I wish there was something like that I could use.

Most of the time, I still just use his name when I’m referring to him. But for people who don’t know him, it feels weird to say, “my co-parent” or “my kids’ dad.” I’m still exploring this one and would be happy to hear any suggestions you might have.

I know a lot of people don’t care about trivial stuff like this – especially when there are so many big things to worry about when ending a marriage.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and words matter to me. Maybe I just want to help elevate the way we think about marriages ending.

Or maybe…I just think we all deserve better.

Photo by Wesley Balten on Unsplash

For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment.

Sip a little more:

You Got This, Sisters — Because Your Soul Already Knows What It Needs

To My Husband, At The End Of Our 25-Year Marriage

It’s Okay Now, Beleaguered Soul — Take Baby Steps & Breathe

"Show me how you get back up. When the world is crumbling around you. When it seems as if everything and everyone have lost their minds. And you quake with fear for the future. For your children’s children. How you see the broken and cannot fix it. No matter how hard you try. Some violence here. Destruction over there. An unending dance of death unfolding. What helps you hold onto yourself in the face of it all? Keep showing up day by day. How do you handle the hard pit of anger roiling in your belly? Tell me who you are by the primal of your screams. Reverberating across the planet. Put all your rage in your mouth and howl it into the night. I will join you. Lips open. Sound echoing beside you. Together, we will be seen." —Shannon Crossman of @shann_crossman #HOLYFIRE #NEWWORLDRISING Read more: @kayharr73 @ladypantzz @dharmaunicorn @thugunicorn


  1. Carol K.

    Well Christy I don’t like the tem “ex” either. So I often say “former spouse”.
    I prefer “noble adversary” but I often get a puzzled look especially from my accountant who responded with a chuckle thinking I would use the term “ex” or “enemy”. Still from a spiritual perspective I think its the most accurate but does not necessarily translate to “former spouse” since “noble adversary” does not describe relationship as a marriage.

    • Christy Williams

      Hi Carol! Thanks so much for commenting! “Noble adversary” cracked me up! It doesn’t suit our situation, but it made me laugh. There are some days when my ex-husband has been my biggest support since the divorce, and I honor and respect him for that. But I will keep trying to think of something other than “ex” to call him. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  2. I believe in soul contracts too, but there remain many questions. My first marriage lasted 5 years and the second was a 26-year relationship. Lessons were learned, but one might question the length of time it took to learn them. Or what the lessons were supposed to be. And there were many sacrifices of time that can’t be regained. Regrets?
    In my state, legally, they call it a “dissolution.” A “dissolving” of the marriage. Ironic in the true sense of the definition of that word. Definitely a change in form, but a dissolved substance is still present in the complete solution 🙂 Maybe it should be a vaporization?
    And from the legal perspective, the contract is one for personal property and the custody of children, which may still carry that air of being property even in this age. Not the ending of a mingling of souls for the purpose of discovering and evolving our higher selves.
    I generally refer to my exs by their names, or, I suppose, I could call them by number but that seems much too impersonal. But when there are children involved, as with my first marriage, the soul contract can’t really be said to be complete for you will always have that person in your life in some form relating to your children.
    I’ll agree that I can’t call these relationships “failures.” Their endings become transitions. And they can certainly be transitions for the better. And maybe the real lessons can be learned if both parties work towards a peaceful and happy resolution.
    Divorce, dissolution, breakdown, flameout or whatever we want to call it, the transition will be whatever we make of it. It certainly doesn’t have to become a cliché, which unfortunately, some choose to live.
    Best wishes for you as you discover yourself in this new part of your journey.

    • Christy Williams

      Harold, you and I are kindred spirits, for sure. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Your comment about “transition” led me to think of the word “transformation” and I think that resonates most for me. I like the positive connotation — and that we are, in some way, upgrading our status as a family and wanting to elevate our lives, even if our marriage is over. I so appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment. Thank you, as always, for your lovely support.

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