Archive for the ‘divorce’ Tag



I loved reading this book, so different from the heavy stuff I’ve been into lately. True, the content isn’t light weight, but it took me into a small town with the family, basically of sisters, providing a constant source of love and support – a place to return to for love and rejuvenation — where growing-up-and-school-friends remain in place. It reminded me of my own hometown of Forestville where I grew up feeling safe and believing that life was as constant and rewarding as one chose to make it. What a blessing it was to grow up in such a place.

Yet this is a story of personal courage, of mastering (mistressing?) the challenges of loss and abandonment while taking us into a broader geographic world. I loved the relationship between Amy and her mother, between Amy and her aunts, between Amy and her daughter.

I love the author’s writing style of lightness and humor, even when talking about personal tragedy and loss. Personally I liked delving into the tragedy of loss through divorce. Living where I do, so often there is table talk of partner loss through death, but little such compassionate understanding of the heartbreak of divorce.

Finally, as one might expect and hope for from an advice columnist, there are touches of serious contemplation of life. Consider this from the final pages.


Here I am in advanced middle age and I finally realize what it means to be an adult. To give with no possibility that I’ll be rewarded. I used to think that being a parent defined my adulthood. Mothering was the making of me. But emotionally, mothering is a little league undertaking: it’s nothing compared to trying to keep these wonderful women in my life – Knowing all the while that one day they will leave it.



Are you settled in and ready? I’m sorry I can’t see all of you, so I hope you’ll let me know you’re out there. And here’s the first question for those of you who are willing to participate.

When was a time that you experienced reconciliation with someone – a friend, family member, co-worker, member of your worship family, person in your book study group, someone you bumped into on the street, or whoever I’ve missed?  If you are willing to describe the entire circumstance, that would be most welcome. If you’d rather keep that part secret, a report of what went down with the reconciliation and how you felt about it would be most welcome.

I’ll start out with Hallie and me and our adjacent back yards – a friendship that began when we were at the tricycle stage, or maybe even earlier. It ended when she died at the age of 70. We fought a lot – of course – usually ending with one or the other leaving the yard in anger, often determined never to have anything to do with each other ever again. As you might guess, we couldn’t sustain that for long, and one of us would break down first, shouting from our own yard, “C’mon over and play.” And that was that.

Most examples aren’t that simple. But how did it feel to me? It felt right! That awful sense of grief and tight anger was gone. Life was normal again.

So, what other kinds of answers might one get – more grown-up things?

I called my friend to say I was sorry, but she hung up on me. I tried several times until she decided to talk to me. We talked a lot. Finally, it was like we were back to normal.

Or: She continued to hang up on me. I felt sad to lose her, but relieved that I had done what seemed like the right thing.

I really wanted to tell him off! Better yet, I wanted to tell everybody else how awful he was, but my grandmother had taught my mother who taught me, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” I felt better about myself for avoiding doing the wrong thing, but still unhappy. So I sent him an e-mail asking him to apologize. He didn’t. So I got really mad and sent him one back telling him how awful he was. That didn’t help much. He just got even madder. We never did reconcile, and I never did feel good when we ran into each other.

My boss infuriated me, but she had the power, so I kept my mouth shut – well, sort of – I couldn’t help telling my friends and co-workers how awful she had been. Some of them sided with her. Some sided with me. There was no reconciliation and I finally left the job, because I couldn’t stand it.

When we were divorced, we were both so angry we even argued in front of people at the grocery store. Our friends didn’t know what to do – whom to stay with and whom to abandon. I finally decided to remember what I had loved about him, and to start telling stories of when the relationship was good. I don’t know how much good it did in influencing friends, but I felt a lot better about myself.

Or maybe:  It reached the point where we both started doing the same thing and our friends got more comfortable around us – even with the new spouses we eventually acquired.

Get the idea? Please share your story to help get the seminar off the ground.

(Of course, knowing me, you can expect I’ll be carrying on even if you don’t)







Posted January 5, 2019 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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I have offered you the story of my marriage in a previous blog. Now let me tell you about my divorce from Lou Affinito after 20 years of marriage and two children. Lou eventually married a lovely lady – a devout Roman Catholic – who was the perfect wife for him. Their marriage lasted some 35 years, terminated only by Lou’s death. And I went on being happily single, supported by my own income, the result of a career which gave me (still gives me) great joy.

It was 1976. I was free – I mean literally free – because the traditional – even Biblical – marriage defining wives as chattel had not been written into our constitution, though remnants of the attitude remained. The same brave women who survived ridicule and torture to gain the right to vote also worked to earn for women the right to their children. As long as wives were chattel, so were their children. Yes, chattel, property.

My mother was a young married woman with her first child when she was granted her voting rights. Not because the constitution was amended to limit her freedom, but because it was amended to guarantee her freedom.

Don’t misunderstand; the church did its best to enforce its limitations on women through the rule of law. There were remnants of the attitude in 1976. In some places, for example, married women could still not receive a library card in their own name.

The idea of women owning their own homes was seen by some as a bit ludicrous, if not disgusting. The first Real Estate agent I worked with showed me a series of very sorry examples of houses. When I told him I was looking for something nicer, he told me this was the best I could expect as a woman looking to purchase on my own. Fortunately he was a bit of a dinosaur. Women were just discovering Real Estate as an occupation that fit their needs and at which they excelled. With the help of a very patient lady I eventually found the right place for me.

Most of the stores to which I applied were willing to give me credit accounts in my own name. The one exception I remember was J.C. Penney which insisted I had to remain under my husband’s name. In all the years since, I have bought only one item at J.C. Penney. By the way, as far as I recall, there were no general credit cards like Visa and American Express.

Knowing the importance of the church to Lou, I offered to cooperate with him in the process of getting an annulment. After a few years he did request my help. The archdiocese, recognizing that I was not a Catholic, sent me a very courteous letter asking whether I’d be wiling to cooperate. They assured me that an annulment would in no way affect the legitimacy of our children. Even the church understood the difference between church law and civil law. Someday I may share the story publicly. Anyway, Lou was granted the annulment.

Have I made my point? The same Biblical references that define what some people are calling traditional marriage also defined women as chattel. I even made it part of the fictional story of Mrs. Job. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if that definition had been written into our constitution.

There is one story you might find interesting. It makes no point except to amuse. In 1982 when I was buying a different home (with the help of the same lovely Real Estate Lady) the potential lender required a copy of my divorce decree. With perfect confidence I headed to my locked, fireproof file. I couldn’t find it. Searching under “D” for divorce, and “D” for decree, then under “M” for marriage, I came up empty handed. So, in somewhat of a panic, I called City Hall for a copy. They reported there was no such decree on file. Was I sure about where I’d been living when I got divorced? Yes, I was. Then on the other end of the phone I heard, “Oh, I think I just saw it. Let me look.” Back she came to report that it was in a drawer of materials about to be discarded. It was never filed. “Oh, I giggled, does that mean Lou is a bigamist?” No, it didn’t mean that, but Lou and I each had to contact our lawyers to get them to finish their job.

Well, maybe there is a point in that last story. Might it be called “Much ado about nothing?” Well, not really. My mortgage loan depended on that piece of paper.

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