Names of things matter.  Different names have different connotations.  “Divorce” suggests a severing, a sharp splitting or truncating of a relationship.  Some states call divorce “dissolution of marriage.”  It’s softer, giving an impression of a substance dissolving, or an entity resolving perhaps into separate elements (unless, of course, you think of “dissolute,” which creates an image of an inebriated bum.)

I always preferred the softness of “dissolution of marriage,” but clients sometimes made the terminology their own.  One client wanted a “delusion” of marriage, and I wanted to ask, “Maybe you already had that?”  Another talked about seeking a “disillusionment” of marriage, which seemed painfully apt.

In the mediation world, we talk about “re-structuring your relationship.”  Some of us call ourselves “matrimonial” lawyers, or “family” lawyers, rather than “divorce” lawyers.  We are people who “work in relationship conflict.”

If you need that sharp, clean break, by all means, do what the law does and call it a divorce.  If you want something softer or more hopeful, find the language that seems right.  What do you need to call this experience, in your heart?

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