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一种教女性如何离婚的新职业

更新时间:2015-7-29 9:43:56 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A New Cadre of Experts Helps Women Navigate Their Divorces
一种教女性如何离婚的新职业

The women are architects, film industry executives, skin care consultants, product managers at tech companies, psychologists. They have worked in finance, publishing and television, though some had scaled back or left the work force when their children were born.

这些女人中有建筑师、制片公司行政人员、护肤顾问、技术公司的产品经理和心理学家。她们在金融业、出版业和电视业工作,不过,有些人在生完孩子之后缩减了工作量或者不再工作。

Divorce is what they have in common. Their stories are varied: the breadwinner wife whose husband’s career hadn’t quite taken off and who found comfort in an affair; the husband who never really adapted to parenthood; the wife with Ivy League degrees who stayed home with her child but lost her way in the marriage while the husband thrived in his international career.

她们的共同之处就是离了婚。她们的故事也千差万别:妻子要养家糊口,丈夫的事业停滞不前,靠婚外恋寻求安慰;丈夫无法真正接受为人父的身份;妻子毕业于常青藤名校,呆在家里带孩子,在婚姻中失去了方向,而丈夫却忙于国际事业。

One Sunday morning in early June, seven of them gathered for a boot camp/workshop in the brick-walled ivy-tendriled backyard of a century-old Brooklyn Heights carriage house that had been remade into the sort of place location scouts covet: an aspirational set for the next Nancy Meyers movie.

6月初的一个星期日上午,七位这样的女人来到布鲁克林高地一处拥有百年历史的马车屋后院,四面的砖墙上爬满了常春藤,被改造得有点像童子军的聚会场所,用来拍南希·迈耶斯(Nancy Meyers)的下一部电影再合适不过。她们是来参加一次培训,或者说学习班。

Blending motivational exercises, not altogether successfully, with a physical exercise routine, the workshop was led by a former music industry executive turned lifestyle coach. She was young and earnest, and if her instructions were sometimes incomprehensible (obfuscated by a dizzying array of New Age-isms), Elise Pettus, whose house it was, offered subtitles.

学习班的内容包括动机训练(并不完全成功),也有身体练习,由一个生活方式教练主持。她以前在音乐行业担任行政人员,年轻而热情。她的指示有时显得高深莫测(混杂着让人眼花缭乱的“新世纪”内容),不过房子的主人伊莉斯·佩图斯(Elise Pettus)会做解释。

“She wants us to say something we’re excited about, and something we’re not,” Ms. Pettus said after one particularly knotty passage, “even if it makes us feel icky.”

“她希望我们说点什么能让自己兴奋的东西,或者我们觉得无聊的东西,”一段格外费解的议程之后,佩图斯说,“甚至是让我们觉得可厌的东西。”

One woman, a European-born Internet executive, raised her hand. “I am excited about my fantastic new job,” she said. “Not excited? This week I don’t feel so solid inside. But I have one issue: What is ‘icky’?”

一个欧洲出生的互联网执行官举手说,“我的新工作棒极了,让我觉得兴奋。无聊的东西吗?这星期我觉得心里不是那么踏实。但是我有个问题:什么叫‘可厌’?”

For the last two years, Ms. Pettus, 52, has used her soaring glass-walled living room and backyard to help women mired in the weeds of divorce navigate that which is profoundly icky. She provides community, respite and, most important, resources by hosting monthly panels, seminars and workshops on topics like collaborative law, litigation and mediation, raising teenagers, financial planning, real estate, grief, dating and midlife sex (zinc, apparently, is very important here), led by experts.

过去的两年里,52岁的佩图斯在自家有玻璃墙壁的高大起居室和后院里帮助在离婚泥沼中挣扎的女人们走过这段非常可厌的旅程。她为这些女人提供小团体和暂时的休息,最重要的是每月都举行专家主持的讨论、研讨会和学习班,内容包括家事协调法(collaborative law)、诉讼及和解、抚养青少年子女、财务计划、房地产、如何应对悲伤、约会和中年性爱(补锌显然很重要),从而为这些女人提供资源。

Untied is what she calls her accidental business, but you might call her a divorce saloniste — or a connector, in the Malcolm Gladwell definition of the word. In a neighborhood that is an avatar of a certain kind of upper-middle-class family ideal, her venture is a clever and intuitive use for a home that is suddenly empty, but spectacular looking. Not that she planned it that way.

她给自己这项附带的业务命名为“解脱”(Untied),不过你也可以称她为一个离婚沙龙的女主人,或者按照马尔科姆·格拉德威尔(Malcolm Gladwell)的定义,是一位“联系者”。她是附近一带中上层理想家庭的典范,这个冒险行动聪明而自然地利用上了这栋突然空下来的漂亮大房子。她的计划本来不是这样的。

Trained as a journalist and filmmaker, Ms. Pettus saw a market niche when she went through her own divorce five years ago. On the night that she and her husband and their two young sons moved into the house they had spent three years renovating, Ms. Pettus’s husband turned to her and announced he would like to separate. He moved out a month later.

佩图斯本来学的是新闻和电影,五年前离婚时发现了相关的商机。一天晚上,她和丈夫,以及两个小儿子搬进这栋他们花费三年时间翻修的房子。这时,丈夫转向她,宣布说他想分手。一个月后,他搬了出去。

“It was an out-of-body experience,” she said. “I was so stunned, so collapsed by grief, but I thought, thank God for the Internet. I’m going to find these really intelligent women I can ask, ‘What kind of lawyer do I call? Do you need a lawyer? Did your kids turn out O.K.? Did you regret keeping the house?’

“那真是一段灵魂出窍的经历,”她说。“我目瞪口呆,悲伤得快要崩溃。但是我想,感谢上帝,还有互联网。我要找那些真正聪明的女人,去问问她们,‘我该找哪种律师,你需要请律师吗,你的孩子适应得好吗,留下房子你后悔了吗?’”

“When my mother was sick with cancer, there were all these listservs. But I couldn’t find that place. And you can’t really put up a sign at your kids’ school asking people to meet you for coffee to talk about their impending divorce.”

“母亲患癌症的时候,有很多提供相关服务的清单。但离婚时我却找不到类似的服务。你也不能跑到孩子的学校里去挂个牌子,邀请人们来和你喝咖啡,聊聊他们离婚的时候是怎么办的。。”

Ms. Pettus is not alone in her efforts. While New York has trailed the rest of the country in terms of divorce law — the no-fault divorce did not land here until 2010 — grass-roots support systems surrounding the process have been growing, according to Lauren Behrman, a psychotherapist who specializes in divorce, following the lead of groups in states like California, Oregon and Minnesota, the birthplace of collaborative law. (Collaborative law starts with a commitment to settlement, not court.)

佩图斯不是唯一一个进行相关工作的人。和全国相比,纽约在离婚法律方面处于落后地位——直到2010年才有了无过错离婚条款。目前,根据离婚心理治疗师劳伦·贝赫曼(Lauren Behrman)的说法,继加利福尼亚、俄勒冈与明尼苏达(明尼苏达是家事协调法的发源地,该法律通过承诺达成协议,并不诉诸法庭)等州之后,纽约的草根离婚互助系统也在成型。

“The biggest challenge is to let people know they have options,” said Dr. Behrman. “That divorce doesn’t have to be this scorched-earth horrible litigation process. But the key is to get to the right professional first. If you walk into the office of a litigator, things are going to go a certain way. If you walk into a mental health professional’s office, it might go another way.”

“最大的挑战是要让人知道,他们有各种选择,”贝赫曼博士说。“离婚并不一定意味着玉石俱焚的法律诉讼。但关键是要先去咨询正确的专家意见。如果你去找诉讼律师,会有特定的处理办法。如果你去找心理健康专家,那可能又有另一套办法了。”

While divorce rates over all have declined since their peak in the 1980s, the rate for those older than 50 has doubled in the last quarter-century (those over 50 account for half the married population). Nearly two thirds of these so-called gray divorces are initiated by women, an AARP study shows.

美国的离婚率在20世纪80年代达到顶峰,目前有所回落,然而在过去25年间,50岁以上者的离婚率却增加了一倍(50岁以上者占已婚人口的一半)AARP的研究表明,这种所谓的“灰发离婚”中有2/3是女性率先提出的。

It is this confluence that underpins the female-centric nature of divorce support services and groups like Untied. That, and an anecdotal sense that women in crisis may seek community more often than men.

这样的趋势支持了以女性为中心的离婚互助系统,以及类似“解脱”这样的互助小组。另外还有一种有点八卦的感觉是:女人遇到危机的时候往往比男人更愿意找同伴支援。

Divorce coaches, another burgeoning specialty, offer one-on-one services, for example, for fees that can hover around $100 an hour and may include a session to plan what to say to one’s lawyer, to streamline the process and thus minimize legal fees.

离婚指导成了新兴的职业,提供一对一服务,比如说,客户出大约100美元一小时的价格,可以得到的服务包括:应该对律师说什么、如何简化流程,最终缩减法律费用。

SAS for Women is a three-year-old divorce coaching business started by two women who had gone through very different divorces but faced a huge learning gap, said Liza Caldwell, one of SAS’s principals.

“女性SAS”是一家离婚指导公司,有三年历史,由两个女人创办,她们经历了艰苦的离婚过程,但是面临巨大的知识鸿沟,SAS的负责人之一丽莎·卡德威尔(Liza Caldwell)说。

“We realized there’s a whole lot more to divorce than just the paperwork,” she said. “How are you going to skin this cat legally? How are you going to pay for the divorce? How are you going to go back to work, if you’ve been a stay-at-home mom? How are you going to help your children heal?”

“我们意识到离婚要面临的问题远比文书工作为多,”她说。“你该怎样合法地处理这桩棘手的事情?在离婚过程中你要怎么花钱?如果之前你是全职妈妈,离婚后要怎样恢复工作?你该怎样帮助子女从这件事中恢复过来?”

There are also professional organizers who specialize in divorce, like Gayle M. Gruenberg in Bergen County, N.J., whose services include the Suddenly Single Sanity System, which covers paperwork, real estate and objects. “There was no real guidance on this when I was going through my own divorce,” Ms. Gruenberg said. “No, ‘This is what you do and here’s a checklist.’ ”

还有一些专门处理离婚问题的职业组织者,比如新泽西州卑尔根郡的盖尔·M·格伦伯格(Gayle M. Gruenberg),她提供的服务包括“突然单身清醒系统”(Suddenly Single Sanity System),帮助客户处理文书工作、房地产和物品。“我离婚的时候并没有类似的指导服务,”格伦伯格说。“没有人告诉你,‘你应该做这些事,这儿有一份清单。’”

Wevorce, a tech start-up, offers an algorithm and a website that aims to connect those in the divorce process with certified experts in all fields, from finance to mental health, just as Untied does.

“我们离”(Wevorce)是一个科技创业公司,拥有一个网站,提供一套算法,把正在离婚的人和相关领域内的特定专家联系起来,从金融专家到心理健康专家都有,和“解脱”做的事差不多。

Stephanie Coontz is co-chair and director of education at the Council on Contemporary Families and an expert on coupling and uncoupling. Groups like Ms. Pettus’s, she said, are “microcosms of a new understanding that we have to develop norms for divorce rather than take sides.”

斯蒂芬妮·库恩兹(Stephanie Coontz)是当代家庭委员会的联合主席与教育主任,也是婚姻与离婚专家。她认为佩图斯女士的团体之类组织是“一个缩影,标志着我们对离婚有了新的认识,而不是只顾采取立场。”

“As divorce has become more common,” she continued, “people have begun to stop seeing it as a personal loss or betrayal. It’s a process that can go badly or go well, so in many different ways there are people trying to make divorce less disastrous.”

“随着离婚愈来愈普遍,”她说,“人们不再把它视为个人的损失抑或背叛。这个过程可以很好,也可以很糟,所以人们试着采取各种方法,让离婚不再是灾难性的。”

Ms. Pettus was not yet legally divorced when she held her first event, a panel led by Jeff Landers, a financial strategist and Forbes columnist who focuses on women going through financially complex divorces. Ms. Pettus sent out emails to friends and friends of friends, and 19 people showed up for a talk on the top 10 things to do immediately after deciding to divorce. (Among them: “Make sure your ex is no longer your health care proxy. Open a separate bank account. Change your will.”)

佩图斯举行第一次活动时还没有在法律上正式完成离婚手续,那是由理财专家与《福布斯》(Forbes)专栏作家杰夫·兰德斯(Jeff Landers)主持的座谈会,他专门研究女人在离婚时如何处理复杂的财务情况。佩图斯给朋友和朋友的朋友们发了电子邮件,最后有19个人出席,讨论了决定离婚后首先应该做的10件事(其中包括“确保前夫不再是你的医疗授权代理人。开一个单独的银行账户。修改遗嘱。”)

Ms. Pettus convened lawyers and mediators for another panel, and more women attended. (Choose the less expensive lawyer, one panelist suggested, because in many cases he or she may be more responsive.) There was catered food, a wine sponsor — “Wine is important early in the divorce process,” Ms. Pettus said — and after a while she began charging, first $25 per event, then $45 (Untied members pay $97 annually).

后来佩图斯又邀请了若干律师和调解者,做了第二次座谈,更多女人参加进来(一个与会者建议,选择不那么贵的律师,因为大多数情况下,这样的律师会更乐于回应)。会上还提供食品,有一个红酒赞助者——“在离婚程序早期,红酒很重要,”佩图斯说——过了一段时间她开始收费,先是每次活动25美元,后来成了45美元(“解脱”会员可以付97美元年费)。

Some panels can be harrowing. Jenny Douglas runs the Brooklyn Cottage, another townhouse-based organization, centered on meditation and the arts. Its programming grew out of her divorce when she, like Ms. Pettus, found herself alone in a big house on alternate weeks. She leads a workshop at Ms. Pettus’s home called Grief and Gratitude, a central exercise of which is to bring a photograph of a happy moment in the marriage that is ending.

有些讲座很让人伤心。詹妮·道格拉斯(Jenny Douglas)是布鲁克林小屋(Brooklyn Cottage)的经营者,这也是一个在家庭举办的组织,专注于冥想和艺术。和佩图斯一样,她也是在离婚之后,发现自己孤零零地生活在一栋大宅里,于是开始了这个计划。她在佩图斯家里做了一个讲座,名为“悲伤与感恩”,这是一种核心练习,需要带来一张照片,内容是已经结束的婚姻中的快乐时刻。

Alison Rona, an architect, recalled how shattering that was. “To look at pictures at the height of our happiness, to remember what was good and to say goodbye. …” she said, breaking off. “I had a very negative image of women going through divorce. I didn’t want to be a classic bitter victim. So this was liberating, if scary.”

艾莉森·罗纳(Alison Rona)是一个建筑师,她说这种练习让人难过极了。“那些照片是我们最快乐的时候照的,看着它们,回忆那些美好的时光,然后说再见……”她停顿了一下。“我原本对离婚的女人有非常负面的看法。我不想成为那种典型的怨妇。所以这其实是一种释放,虽说有些可怕。”

Other panels are more festive. A recent one, Sex and the ReSingled Women, led by sex therapists and an ob/gyn clinician, was particularly instructive. You don’t have to be such a good girl, one expert said. Do sleep around. You don’t have to tell anyone.

也有些比较欢快的座谈。比如最近的“性与重新独身的女人”,是由性爱治疗师和产科/健身医师们主持的,对女人们特别有益。一位专家说,你不必做一个好女孩。不妨去和各种人睡觉,反正也不用告诉任何人。

“I loved that message,” Ms. Pettus said. “I loved that she was telling women to play the cad a bit.”

“我喜欢这个,”佩图斯说。“我喜欢她告诉女人们说,可以稍微放纵一点。”

You would imagine that Ms. Pettus — five years after her split and currently in a relationship (she met her boyfriend through a collaborative lawyer who spoke at Untied) — would be less than eager to keep revisiting examples of her past self. But she said she finds it exhilarating.

佩图斯已经离婚五年,目前正在恋爱(男友她是通过一个在“解脱”发言的家事协调法律师认识的),你可能会觉得她不那么愿意在女人们身上一再看到过去的自己。不过她说,她觉得这令人振奋。

“Women are going through this terrifying time, but they are also figuring out their lives, who they want to be, or wanted to be, before the marriage years squeezed all that out,” she said. “They are firing on all cylinders. Being divorced is kind of a gift. You’re a lot less inhibited when one of the worst things that can happen already has. You’ve already walked through the town square naked. Because of that, things are funnier, juicier.”

“这样的女人要经历一段可怕的时光,但她们也能通过这段经历认清自己的生活,她们想成为什么人,或者曾经想要成为什么人,却被婚姻碾碎了,”她说。“她们全力以赴。离婚是一种天赐。当最坏的事情发生后,你会感觉少了一些制约。就好像你已经裸体穿过了市镇广场。之后的一切总会更有趣,更多彩。”

Last fall, after a panel on online dating, women began clamoring for singles events.

去年秋天,有一次座谈是关于在线约会的,女人们强烈要求组织单身活动。

Ms. Pettus’s solution was the Good Part: curated dinners at various Brooklyn locales for 12 “resingled” individuals. Finding men was a challenge, she said. “I emailed 120 women from my list” — Untied has over 300 subscribers — “saying, I’ve got this great stable of attractive, intelligent, funny women. Now all I need is a parallel group of men and to please send me one name.”

于是佩图斯组织了“好伴侣”活动:为12位“恢复单身”的人在布鲁克林的不同地点组织晚宴。她说,找男伴是个挑战。“我给邮件列表里的120个女人写了电子邮件”——“解脱”的邮件有300个订阅者——“我说,我手上有一大堆迷人、聪明、风趣的女人。现在我需要一群能配得上她们的男人,请给我提供一个。”

She got eight, two of whom did not reply to her initial invitation. At the third Good Part event, in June, one male attendee, a South African health consultant, seemed bewildered as to how Ms. Pettus had come by his name, but utterly game for the evening, which began over baby lettuces with pickled rhubarb in the garden of Vinegar Hill House.

最后她得到八个男人的名字。其中两个没有回应她最初的邀请。六月的第三次“好伴侣”活动只有一位男士参加,是一个南非的健康顾问,对于佩图斯何以得到他的名字似乎感到有点困惑,但还是饶有兴味地出席了当晚的活动,先是在醋山屋(Vinegar Hill House)的花园享用小莴苣配腌大黄。

From there it was off to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where the group strained to hear unintelligible programming, because of a balky P.A. system, by the Lost Lectures, an organization that plants performances in “secret” locations, all of which turned out to be a bonding experience.

之后一行人来到布鲁克林海军工厂(Brooklyn Navy Yard),费力地听着不太清楚的节目,因为扩音系统不太好用,演出由“迷失演讲”(Lost Lectures)带来,这个团体专门在“秘密”的地点举办演出,这些活动都有助于增进感情。

The aftermath included a collective but mild hangover. And one confirmed hookup.

最后大家都稍微有点宿醉。而且一段关系肯定建立起来了。

As for the boot camp workshop a few days later, it wrapped up on the pier below Ms. Pettus’s house, with the lifestyle coach asking the group for an intention (“that’s something you’d like to happen,” Ms. Pettus said helpfully) for the coming weeks.

几天后的培训活动也在佩图斯家的窗下圆满完成了,这位生活方式教练要求大家在接下来的几星期里多加注意(“就是说,有好事要发生了,”佩图斯充满希望地说)。

A film industry executive who said she had been walloped by depression in the last month (her daughter was about to meet her ex’s new girlfriend), and was truly struggling to get out of bed each day, said tentatively that she would like to start dating.

一位电影业的执行人员说,她在过去的一个月里被沮丧的情绪击败(她女儿要去见她前夫的新女友),每天要非常努力才能从床上爬起来。她犹豫地说,自己愿意试着开始约会。

“Let love in, that’s good,” the coach said.

“让爱走进来,这很不错,”这位教练说。

And Ms. Pettus, ever practical, added, “You know you wouldn’t have to get out of bed for that.”

佩图斯更实际地补充了一句,“你知道,这会让你不想从床上爬起来。”

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