A “Divorce” Fair

Ciao Amore, a divorce planning agency.

In May, Italy held a divorce fair: an event that offered services such as life coaching and beauty advice to a booming number of separating couples in the Catholic country.

“Smiling is key to this fair, which also offers serious, practical advice for often dramatic situations,” Franco Zanetti, who created the event, told Reuters. The services include divorce planning, anti-stalking help, and “new look” tips, the organizers said.

Echoing similar initiatives in the United States and elsewhere in Europe, visitors will also be able to subscribe to divorce gift lists at department stores in Milan. A growing number of Italian couples file for divorce every year, according to Italy’s statistics agency ISTAT.

More than 130,000 couples split or got divorced in Italy in 2007, up more than 3 percent from the previous year, ISTAT said. On the other side, the number of marriages nearly halved since 1972 to around 246,000 in 2008.

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Are divorce fairs the way forward? Or backward? Increasingly, the perception has become that the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete (a recent study showed that 4 in 10 Americans think so). If these fairs are the new status quo, does this mean we embrace divorce? Whatever happened to the sanctity of marriage and the notion of sacrifice?

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