Netherlands’ Divorce Hotel Offers Whirlwind Breakups

When it comes to marriage, tying the knot has always been so much faster than untying it. A quickie wedding in Las Vegas can be over in minutes, but a divorce usually takes months or even years to finalize.

The Netherlands is hoping to change all that with the opening of the Divorce Hotel. It’s a place where you check in as a legally wedded couple and check out as exes – all in the space of a weekend.Couples who stay at the hotel are provided with bars, saunas and other amenities to ease any pre-divorce jitters. A mediator then counsels the couple on their decision before a divorce lawyer draws up the paperwork.

The Divorce Hotel is the first place in the world to offer such a quick breakup process and according to the BBC, they’ve been bombarded with inquiries from unhappy couples all over the world. Interested in enlisting their services? The good news (if you can call it that) is that the Dutch concept will soon be offering quickie divorces to couples in the U.S. and U.K. as well.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Parityytirap]

Divorced Dads: Five travel tools and ideas to make visitation more fun

Divorced dads visitation ideasWhether you travel for visitation or not, there are many travel resources you can use to make your experience with your children more enjoyable. Over the past year as a divorced dad, this is something I’ve learned, and the revelations, if obvious to some, have been powerful for me, especially in winter, when outdoor options simply aren’t available. You don’t have to sit in the house and try in vain to entertain your kids. Instead, think like a visitor, and see what your community (local or not) has to offer.

For me, this was eye-opening. I travel to see my son, and I wasn’t fully aware of what was available in his town. With some help, I thought like a traveler and found some interesting options. Here are my top five:

1. Contact the visitors bureau: these organizations don’t just exist in big cities and tourist destinations. Cities and towns of all sizes have them, and their mission is to help you find things to do when visiting. You’ll find attractions you didn’t know existed – and that the locals may not know about. Stop by their websites, and if you don’t see something that catches your eye, fire off an email or make a phone call.
2. Check out local staples: the local library never occurred to me, but it’s now on my list for the next time I visit my son. There are book readings and other planned activities for children. They’re usually free, and will also help your kids get into the habit of appreciating reading!

3. Plan a tour: take a handful of everyday stops in your child’s hometown and fashion them into a fun local tour! Bring excitement to the mundane by planning an underlying theme that connects the familiar in a new or interesting way. Then, you can have a blast navigating this experience, showing your child the local world from a new perspective.

4. Watch the seasons: there are hayrides in the fall and snowy hills for sledding in the winter. Parks are great in the summer, and nothing beats throwing a Frisbee around after you’ve munched on a picnic lunch. Keep an eye on seasonal alternatives where you live and plan accordingly. Have a good idea for summer when the snow is knee-deep? Write it down! That tip will be useful before you know it.

5. Think like a kid on vacation: you’re used to seeing the roads you use for your daily commute and the same boring restaurants whose menus you memorized a long time ago. Shake your head, clear your eyes and take a different look at everything around you. Think back 30 or 40 years. What would you have seen when you were a kid? I remember seeing a tangled comforter as a rough landscape for toy soldiers – even though I now see it as a chore to be finished. We see things differently as adults, and it helps to toss that perspective aside.

[photo by Mike_fleming via Flickr]

Five visitation travel tips for divorced dads

visitation travel tips for divorced dadsDivorced plus distance equals difficulty – when you have kids. You don’t get to spend as much time with them as you’d like, and the process of going to see them involves lots of time on a bus, train or plane (or even in a car). The trip home leaves you with lots of time to think. There’s nothing easy about this, but you can take some of the sting out. Keep the right frame of mind, and be realistic about how you travel: it makes a profound difference.

Do you take visitation trips a few times a month (or year)? Here are five ways to make it a bit easier, learned from a year of doing this myself:

1. Don’t measure time in minutes: this trap is seductive. You want to spend as much time as possible with your kids, and losing even 10 minutes to traffic or weather can be infuriating. It’s agonizing to be stuck on a bus, realizing it’s time you won’t be able to spend enjoying fatherhood. You can’t let this get to you: it’ll just drive you nuts (and affect your visit). It took me a few months to come to grips with this, and life got much better when I did.2. Leave early: this is especially important if you’re taking a bus, train or plane. You have enough stress already, and rushing for transportation will only heighten it. And, do you really want that to shape your frame of mind when you hug your kids for the first time in a few weeks? Give yourself a cushion up front, even if only to decompress a little. Arriving early can help you do this, too.

3. Distract yourself during the trip: I didn’t’ do this well at first, and I felt it. Even veteran travelers – who have logged hundreds of thousands of miles and are accustomed to bringing books, magazines and laptops – will not be as adept at passing the time on a visitation trip as they expect. Spend too much time dwelling on your situation (as I did for the first few months of three-hour bus rides), and you’ll torture yourself emotionally.

4. Be ready for the return trip: this can be pure living hell inside your head. Give yourself a moment to unwind before going home – you’ll need it. I usually get to the bus station 45 minutes early to collect my thoughts, reflect on the weekend and ease myself out of the mindset of having said goodbye. It helps. A lot. Traveling home accompanied only by your thoughts should become more bearable.

5. Know that it gets easier: or, at least that you’ll get used to it. You’ll find a rhythm, and that will get you through the traveling itself. Over time, you’ll see and feel the changes, and you’ll spend more time enjoying your visits.

Do you have any tips for making visitation travel easier? I’m not the only one who’d love to hear them, I’m sure. Leave a comment to help us all out.

[photo by Rob Young via Flickr]

The Museum of Broken Relationships finds permanent home

Way back in 2007 we reported on the Museum of Broken Relationships, a traveling exhibition of mementos from love affairs turned sour. Well, the idea has been gaining steam, and now the museum has opened up a permanent exhibition in Zagreb, Croatia.

The museum is perhaps unique in that all of its collections come from individual donations. They come with a story too. Take this teddy, for example, donated by a woman who wrote, “‘I love you’ – WHAT A LIE! LIES, DAMN LIES! Yes, it’s like that when you are young, naïve and in love. And you don’t realize your boyfriend started dating you just because he wanted to take you to bed! I got this teddy bear for Valentine’s. He survived on top of my closet in a plastic bag, because it wasn’t him who hurt me, but the idiot who left him behind.”

Ouch. Love hurts. The museum contains hundreds of stories like this. There’s the wedding dress from a failed marriage, the artificial leg of a man jilted by a nurse, and a guy’s cell phone he gave to his girlfriend so she couldn’t call him anymore.

Is there anything you’d donate to the Museum of Broken Relationships? Tell us in the comments section! Is there anything I’d donate? Nope, I threw it away years ago.

Galley Gossip: Flight attendant revokes travel privileges from husband

Dear Heather,

Someone I know was requested by his wife to meet him in another state due to a medical emergency on her part. She had been working out of the country. As a retired airline employee, she had flight benefits, which she used to book her husband a flight. As soon as he landed, instead of finding his ailing wife, he was served with notice she was filing for divorce. Once he flew back home, she yanked the flight benefit, leaving him unable to afford to fly back to the far away state to defend his property rights in the divorce. Just wondered if you thought the airlines would frown upon using flight benefits to lure someone into a state under false pretense.

K

Dear K,

Now that is some evil shhh….you-know-what! Wow. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, something like this happens. I feel for your friend, I really do. I can’t believe his soon to be ex lied about being sick in order to get him where she wanted him. Unfortunately for your friend, the retired flight attendant had every right to revoke his travel benefits. I know I would! I’ll get to that in a moment.
While the airline, I’m sure, would frown upon an ex employee using their travel privileges to do such a thing, it’s highly doubtful the airline will take action right away – if even at all. Only because there are two sides to every story and this is a marriage dispute, not a work related issue, involving an EX employee who can’t be reprimanded or fired. Anyway, it’s all he said-she said at this point. What right does the airline have getting involved? What right do we even have judging? (Yet judge we will!) Remember there’s a reason they’re getting a divorce in the first place. Not that it’s any of our business, but it probably has something to do with the fact they weren’t even living together in the same country when the papers were served, which explains why this question about her traveling benefits came to be.

The flight attendant lied. That wasn’t nice. In fact, it was pretty evil. But people do lie, especially those involved in nasty divorce battles. It sounds to me like your friend isn’t angry that his wife lied, but that he lost his right to travel. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t understand how divorces work so I can’t comment on his right to defend himself in another country. What I can tell you is flight attendants are responsible for the behavior of those traveling on their buddy passes. This is why flight attendants don’t just hand them over to anyone! If her soon to be ex husband were to misbehave on a flight and get written up by another airline employee, the retired flight attendant could very well lose her travel benefits forever! I wouldn’t chance it. Those are her passes. She earned them. She has every right to decide who gets to use them regardless of what’s going on in the marriage.

Do you believe in karma? I do. So if this retired flight attendant is as bad as you believe her to be, I’m sure she’ll get hers in the end. Until then, let the divorce judge decide. Just my two cents…

Thanks for writing

Heather

Photo courtesy of DCMaster