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Britain department store launches divorce registry service

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(Read caption) Britain's largest department store, Debenham's, has begun a new program that lets the newly divorced create a registry.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Get out of bed. Throw out the wads of wet tissues. Stop calling your mom! Getting divorced is cause for … celebration! It is? At least, that’s what Debenhams wants to tell you.

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In January, conveniently coinciding with the winter sale shopping slump, Debenhams – one of Britain’s largest department store chains – launched its “divorce registry service,” which offers couples who are splitting up the opportunity to sign up for (and get their friends and family to purchase) all the pots, pans, toasters, and noniron shirts a newly single guy or gal might need.

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Wedding registries have long been a staple of the gift-giving industry, but the concept of a divorce registry is something that would have been unheard of in the not-too-distant past, when divorces were less common and hardly a joking matter.

Today, according to the Office for National Statistics, the United Kingdom has one of the highest divorce rates in the world, with 45 percent of British marriages ending in divorce. And, while most still count splitting up among the most stressful and upsetting events in their lives, attitudes toward it are shifting – and there is a small but growing trend to treat the matter with a little levity.

These days, there are divorce greeting cards, cakes, and fairs, which bring together the likes of life coaches, financial planners, and dating service agencies to advise the newly unhitched.

“Open a divorce registry, throw a divorce party (why not?), take a vacation or change your look!” chirps Divorce Candy, a website dedicated to helping the divorced rebuild their lives. “Rebuilding your home is a way back to rebuilding your heart.”