The Divorce Posse

Remember when all it took to get divorced was a shark lawyer? Today, tony Philadelphians don't dare split up without a cadre of pricey experts — from decorators and plastic surgeons to chakra-soothing massage therapists

It’s in that hell, of course, that the need for a posse is born. “It’s absolutely essential for people who have gotten divorced to see a therapist or read some books or do a seminar, to learn about the relationship and understand the psychology of attachment — why they attracted that person in the first place,” argues Sherri R. Edelman, a clinical psychologist who practices out of a lofty Old City spa-and-psychotherapy spot called Triune Chiropractic, Counseling and Wellness Center. Triune is a one-stop chakra shop where Edelman, plus a chiropractor, Pilates and yoga instructors, and massage therapists, awaits to begin the healing. “Our business is thriving,” adds Edelman, who charges $130 an hour; half of her clients are in a “relationship crisis.”

Your shrink and M.D. are often the first members of your posse (after your lawyer): All kinds of health issues do seem to crop up as bad marriages are ending. One Main Line woman reports having such joint pain that she couldn’t get out of bed as her marriage wound down (thanks to her husband’s dalliance with a close friend), and she got progressively skinnier by the week. “My doctor told me I was going to end up dead at the rate I was going,” she remembers, though with the help of therapists, she’s well (and divorced) now. Edelman’s patients tend to suffer from a lot of irritable bowel syndrome and headaches. “Backaches, headaches and neck aches are directly connected to our nervous system,” she says. “We have unmet needs and emotional upheaval. … We tend to shut down and regress into our bodies.” One might stock up on Gas-X, then visit Edelman’s Triune colleagues, who can help dissolve post-divorce “armoring” with everything from Reiki to raindrop therapy.

Of course, feeling great is one thing, but you also need a posse member to focus on how you look. Newly divorced Foote is now a Pilates devotée. And lives there a divorcée in all the world who hasn’t had cosmetic surgery? “I see a lot of divorced people — women and men, interestingly enough,” says Kirk Brandow, a plastic surgeon with a Ritz-Carlton-ish suite of offices in Bala Cynwyd. “There’s a group that comes in before they get divorced, and another group that’s been divorced six months or so and wants to get back out there.” (That pre-divorce group — are they in effect getting their current spouses to help subsidize improvements that their next will enjoy? “They’re hoping it will help them get the confidence to leave the marriage,” offers Brandow. “I don’t encourage them, of course.”) Unbelievably (or brilliantly?), Brandow is launching a “Better Than Ever” cosmetic surgery registry, where friends and relatives of the newly divorced can help fund, via PayPal, their procedures. The doctor says that women often go for a tummy tuck or breast lift, men for an I’ll-look-better-at-Rouge neck tightening or laser peel. “I try to bring them back to where they were — it really does give them a big boost,” he explains, adding that he’ll ask patients to bring in youthful photos of themselves as a sort of guideline. Brandow’s vision when he joins a divorce posse is more Bryn Mawr than Borgata: “I don’t take someone in her 50s who’s a nice B cup and make them a D cup,” he says.