This summer, The Globe and Mail’s Dave McGinn takes the pros to the movies – people whose real lives, professions and passions are flickering up on the big screen – to see where seasonal silliness and reality intersect. This week: Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it helps to have Ryan Gosling there to get you back on your feet when your marriage falls apart. Every newly divorced man can rely on this, right? How does the picture of divorce painted by Crazy, Stupid, Love, also starring Steve Carell and Julianne Moore, hold up to reality? Pretty well actually, says Deborah Moskovitch, a Toronto-based divorce consultant and author of The Smart Divorce.
Do you think that any middle-aged man who wears running shoes on a romantic date with his wife is headed straight to divorce city?
He’s not headed straight to a divorce, but he should head straight to Harry Rosen and work with a stylist.
What is a divorce consultant, anyways?
What makes me different [than a lawyer or therapist] is that I help people really understand the divorce process from the emotional side and the legal side without offering legal advice or acting like a therapist.
Should you avoid driving with your spouse after telling them you want a divorce so that no one jumps out of the car, the way Carell’s character does in the movie?
If you want to have a smart divorce rather than an ugly divorce, I don’t think you should have that conversation in the car. There’s got to be more planning. You need to think things through. Someone is always going to be hurt by that decision. I have a lot of clients who don’t know how to tell their partner. I’ll send them to a therapist.
In the movie, one of the kids finds out about the divorce when Carell’s character accidentally blurts it out in front of him. Telling the kids is obviously incredibly difficult, but just blurting it out probably isn’t best, right?
That’s got to be the worst thing. It’s devastating for that kid. Kids need to know that the divorce was not their fault, that you love them very much. You need to make them feel secure. Both parents should sit down together and explain the reasons for the divorce, come up with a plan of who’s moving out, where they’re moving, and answer some of the questions that the kids are going to want to know.
When news spreads about Carell and Moore’s divorce, one couple informs Carell they had to pick who to be friends with, and they chose Moore. How do you make sure that when your friends decide which of you they’re going to remain friends with, they pick you?
I don’t think that you can do that. Some couples are able to part amicably, and people don’t feel like they have to take sides. But I do know of people that have said to their friend, “If you’re friends with her, then I can’t be friends with you any more.” Some people do feel there’s a loyalty bond and you’re breaking that bond if you’re socializing [with their ex].
Should every newly single man who is going through a divorce hope that a Ryan Gosling-esque ladies man shepherds them through the dating scene and maybe helps them win their wives back?
It’s deeper than that. Maybe he [Steve Carell’s character] did let himself go. And he just became so complacent in the relationship that he wasn’t keeping himself up the way he did when they first started dating. Clothes don’t make the man, but it’s important not to get into a routine or forget to focus on the relationship any longer.
So no Gosling-esque ladies men, then?
What happens to a lot of people is that they’ve got this identity as a married couple and then they are floundering. You do need to reinvent yourself, in a sense, to find yourself, who you are as an individual. Oftentimes people will start working out and they’ll start paying attention to themselves, they start dressing better. It’s common for people to want to take better care of themselves.
Julianne Moore’s character has an affair. Is that a frequent precursor to divorce?
Some people have an exit affair. One spouse has already decided to leave the marriage and the affair provides the justification. The other partner usually blames the affair rather than looking at how their marriage got to this point.
When do you know that a marriage is definitely over, that there’s no way it can be salvaged?
If you lose trust and respect, that’s often difficult to get back. But everyone has an individual breaking point. One of the things I do for my clients is that if they are very unsure, I will tell them to work with a therapist to make sure this is the right decision for them. Because there’s no going back once you go down that road.
As someone who does your job, what did you really like about the movie, and what did you really not like?
I think the movie was very good about showing the pain of divorce. What I didn’t like about the movie was it just showed that he was able to bounce back a little too quickly to become that womanizer. But there wasn’t much that I didn’t like about that movie. It wasn’t a deep movie, but it did show that kids are smarter than we give them credit for, it showed the mistakes that parents make.
This interview has been condensed and edited.