A Brief History
On July 19th, 1966, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow wed. As many had predicted, they ended up having a short and unhappy marriage. Their relationship with each other as divorcés, however, was exceptionally amicable, as brought to light 45 years later. On the basis of three different examples, this article will look at couples who experienced, or in one case, are still experiencing, an amicable post-divorce period.
Amicable is derived from French and basically means “friendly” or “agreeable”. The term amicable divorce is usually one given to divorcing couples who manage to avoid a type of “War of the Roses” mud-slinging, reputation-ruining, savings-depleting extravaganza, beneficial only to the respective lawyers. If there are children involved, such couples often stay cordial and even part-take in many activities together.
At the moment it is fashionable to say one is “consciously uncoupling”. This description is derived from a multi-weeklong program following and popularized by Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin, as they are in the process of their own divorce. The basic gist of it is healing rather than blaming. For example, rather than blame one another for the little quirks (and sometimes big betrayals) that bothered one, one should thank the other instead for the growing experience. Instead of viewing the marriage as a failure, one is to focus on the successes one had together. It is a means of divorcing with as little emotional baggage as possible. In the opinion of the author, it almost sounds like long overdo spiritual and marriage counseling.
Whether the couples mentioned in this article consciously uncoupled or not is unknown, If they did, it was probably done naturally and unconsciously… What is known, however, is that they got (get) along divorced better than when married.
Amicable Divorce Without Children – Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves
When Henry VIII finally laid eyes on the woman in whose portrait he had fallen in love, he felt duped. His portraitist, Hans Holbein, was a genius at bringing out one’s best features; he created the most famous and iconic painting of Henry VIII, himself, drawn when he was already an old man, morbidly obese and suffering from an ulcerated leg. He used this same skill on Anne of Cleves and created another masterpiece. Hardly able to return her home, Henry dutifully married her but could not bring himself to consummate the marriage. Whether she truly was as ugly as Henry believed is unlikely; it is just that Henry was used to picking out his wives from among the ladies of his court. As the months wore on, one such lady, Katherine Howard, was presented to Henry, and he decided to push the issue of annulment so that he could marry his new fifteen year-old English rose without a thorn. Anne, a princess of another realm, knew that he would not be able to have her executed like he did Anne Boleyn. She also knew that she would be faced with a long and difficult divorce should she be as obstinate as Catherine of Aragon, so instead she decided that she would learn from Catherine’s mistakes and agree to the annulment. Henry, surprised at her agreeable nature, granted her all she requested in return: She was given a generous settlement, comprised of many castles and properties; She was referred to as “the King’s beloved Sister”; An honorary member of the family, she was invited to court often and was given precedence over all women in the kingdom except the king’s wife and daughters. By bowing in to Henry’s demands, she had secured herself wealth and became Henry’s friend. His rose without a thorn, however, had less political and personal finesse and in good pattern with less-than-agreeable English wives, ended up losing her head.
Amicable Divorce with Children – Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson
When Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, a.k.a. Fergie, married, it seemed to be another fairy-tale wedding. This couple was genuinely liked for being down to earth, and unlike Charles and Diana, these two seemed truly in love. Fun-loving Fergie, however, had a hard time adjusting to the constraints of royal life and missed her husband who spent the greater part of the year on a naval liner, coming home just long enough to twice impregnate her. Lonely, Fergie decided that some male companionship would do her good. Two American lovers followed in quick succession. Rumors abounded, but things only escalated when pictures were taken of Fergie having her toes sucked by one of them. Andrew, though feeling betrayed, still loved his wife and wanted the marriage to work out, but for reasons of state and appearances, the couple were compelled to divorce. Unlike Charles and Diana, who had a War-of-the-Roses-like divorce, these two remained on very good terms. After the divorce, they still lived on the same property to better be able to raise their two daughters together and often went on vacation as a family. In addition, they show a united front at all functions involving their daughters. These two get along so well in fact, that there has been persistent speculation of a remarriage. Andrew has even intervened to clear Fergie’s multi-million pound debts. If that isn’t continued dedication, especially since she famously tried to sell access to him to a reporter posing as a businessman, the author does not know what is.
Amicable Divorce and then Children – Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow
Less than a year after their 1966 marriage, Frank Sinatra served Mia Farrow divorce papers while she was on the set of Rosemary’s Baby. She was supposed to have started working with him on his next project, but the filming schedule for Rosemary’s Baby ran over and Sinatra lost his patience with Farrow. There was more, however. At 21 she was simply too immature for 50-year-old Sinatra. Farrow later blamed the demise of their marriage on this huge age difference, stating that she was an “impossibly immature teenager”. She did begin to mature, and she did stay friends with Sinatra. Not only did they remain friends, they apparently became “friends with benefits”, as Farrow later stated in a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair that there was a distinct possibility that Sinatra fathered her son Ronan who was born in 1987, nineteen years after their divorce! Obviously they had a more than an amicable arrangement, with Farrow stating that they had “never really split up” (despite both having remarried in the meantime…). In other words, they consciously coupled rather than uncoupled.
Question for students (and subscribers): What are justifiable reasons for getting divorced? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Albert, James A. Pay Dirt: Divorces of the Rich and Famous : The Unauthorized Inside Stories of the Nation’s 20 Most Sensational Divorces. Branden Pub Co, 1989.