Don’t Roll Your Eyes, Divorce Registries Are Actually A Good Idea

Stacey Slager created a divorce registry after her 14-year marriage ended in 2023.

When Stacey Slager divorced last year after 14 years of marriage, a co-worker suggested something entirely novel: Why not start a divorce registry?

It’s difficult enough to navigate the emotional terrain of divorce, the co-worker told Slager. It’s doubly hard when you’re downsizing to a smaller space and doing so without some of the household necessities that your ex may have gotten in the split: microwave ovens and mattresses, couches and chairs, pots and pans.

To deal with the financial precariousness of the moment, why not rely on a little help from your friends? With that urging in mind, Slager went ahead and created one.

“In my case, he got the vacuum cleaner so my registry contains a very good vacuum cleaner,” Slager, who lives in Vancouver Island, said with a laugh. “I didn’t actually take very much with me when I moved out, mostly because I just wanted to get out quickly.”

Plus, she said, there wasn’t much to take; Slager’s now ex-husband’s vetoed a wedding registry when they got married, thinking it “a little too gauche.”

On her divorce registry, it’s mostly kitchen items, but Slager said she’ll be grateful for anything that comes her way.

“Because he was a collector of lots of random things, it’s likely that I’m going to move much closer to a minimalist lifestyle when I am on my own ― I’m currently staying with friends,” she told HuffPost.

Stacey Slager created a divorce registry after her 14-year marriage ended in 2023.

Slager’s not alone in creating a post-split wishlist. In the last year, there’s been think pieces about divorce registries and separation celebrations. (Divorce parties, all the rage around 2015, come across as a little déclassé in 2024, at least in name.)

In January, The New York Times Magazine ran an essay by novelist Leslie Jamison, recounting how her divorce registry kept her afloat post-split.

On social media ― TikTok in particular ― people, mostly women, share what it’s like to ask for household goods after a marriage ends: “I’m picking things out for myself for the first time, not for anyone else, it’s just for me, which is wild,” dancer and yoga instructor Erin Eloise said of her divorce registry in one such clip, posted last summer.

Moving into a new apartment, all that Erin had in her possession was the odd kitchen appliance, and her cherished collection of mugs from Broadway and West End shows. Friends, she hoped, would chip in where they could.

“It felt kind of selfish and kind of weird but I realize there has never been a point in my life where I need something more like this,” she told her followers.

As the oft-quoted Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale found, divorce is the second-most stressful life event behind only the death of a spouse.

Another woman on TikTok, Kaila, said she thinks creating a divorce registry ― or breakup registry when a long-term cohabitating relationship ends ― is just as reasonable as sending out a wedding or baby registry.

“When is another time in your life that you really need people to show up and be with you and give you things and replace your things?” she says in her TikTok video.

“We have to have the party, too,” she added. “We need friends to be willing to show up a bit with stuff for people who just ended a relationship. Make it your 2024 goal to ask your friends who just ended a relationship if they want stuff.”

Kelly Edwards, a managing partner of Edwards Family Law in London, likes the idea, though she doesn’t think the trend has caught on in a mainstream way quite yet.

“I can see [divorce registries] being perfect for people who need an extra boost after a complex divorce,” she said. “It’s a comforting way to offer more than just flowers and to help friends on their new journey.”

You don’t even necessarily have to create your own Amazon wishlist. A new-ish platform, Fresh Starts Registry, features curated and researched Amazon bundles with everything a newly single person might need: There’s a bedroom wishlist, one for kitchens as well as kid’s rooms.

“Divorce registries give people the chance to curate their lives exactly as they desire: the half plate-half bowls that light them up, the sheets that make their bed feel like a hotel and the picture frames that make their home feel cozy,” said Jenny Dreizen, who co-founded the site in June 2021 after both she and her sister, Olivia Dreizen Howell, had ended long-term relationships. (Dreizen ended a 10-year relationship and Dreizen Howell ended an 8-year marriage.)

“When we created the company, Jenny had just ended her engagement and left her apartment with nothing but our grandmother’s heirlooms and her clothing, the opposite experience I had as I stayed in my marital residence and had to restock after my divorce,” Dreizen Howell told HuffPost.

It doesn’t hurt that millennials are primed for such a service. As a generation, we’re used to operationalizing and outsourcing all aspects of our personal lives ― first there were dating apps, now there’s apps and services for more thorny aspects of life as well: online and in-person breakup bootcamps, divorce concierges that take all the hard work out of filing, and Hitch Switch, a company that streamlines the process of changing your name whether you’re marrying or separating.

In New York City, there’s even an interior design firm that specializes in helping divorced men create a calm, organized space when they move out during or after a separation. (No need to sleep on a sad air mattress and eat from a wobbly card table anymore, fellas!)

But while those services are more upscale, the divorce registry is more for the common man (or woman): Who doesn’t need a new set of silverware or Tupperware after love and cohabitation go wrong?

“It’s also not uncommon for women to find themselves leaving marital residence both for financial and possibly safety reasons,” Dreizen Howell noted. For those women in particular, a divorce registry could be life-changing.

Of course, the idea of a divorce registry is not without its detractors. Search the phrase on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, and you’ll find plenty of derisive comments: “You broke it, you buy it,” one man remarked. “Divorce registry? First you give em’ wedding and baby shower gifts… now I gotta give you a gift ’cause it didn’t last? a woman said.

The Dreizen sisters are familiar with such criticism, and are quick to explain that divorce registries are meant to meet people in their time of need and bridge the gap between those needing support and those looking for ways to support them. (Indeed, how many well-meaning offers of “please get in touch if you need anything” ever materialize into something more?)

“My feeling is, we culturally support people through so many big life changes, and divorce should not be the exception,” Dreizen said. “There is no shame in the transition to divorce, and we should be honoring this life change like any other.”

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