“We’re getting divorced. But we’re doing it amicably, with mutual respect.” When ex-spouses (or ex-es) describing their divorce sound like “we’re withdrawing our offer on the house we looked at Thursday,” you can get the idea that they never invested enough to be hurt by the loss. But listen again: you’ll hear emptiness in the voice; pain in the heart. Yes, the stigma is lost. Yes, some koffee-klatch and water-cooler conversations have an “everybody’s-doing–it” attitude. No. No one who went through divorce thinks it’s painless.

But if pain-free divorce is a myth (in the shattering), divorce is a reality, an option more than it ever was. To be sure, the option was always there. But as my father puts it, so was a tourniquet. When the body is facing death you use the tourniquet; otherwise it can do more damage than good. (Many first aid courses no longer teach tourniquet application because of its overuse.) Complementing the legalization of divorce by the Torah is the frustration of the Talmud: “When husband and wife divorce, the Holy Altar sheds tears.”

Why bother with gut-wrenching screaming matches when you can just stroll away? Husbands and wives are not the only things getting divorced. Divorce is not just a legal proceeding; it’s a way of life, a mindset. You got in a fight with a friend? Send them a letter telling them why you’re not going to have anything to do with them anymore. Your family gives more sting than honey? Don’t feel bound or stifled by them. And divorce, disengagement, isn’t always such a bad idea. But when to walk and when to talk is not a question that gets a lot of attention. It can’t. It‘s too easy to walk: Why bother with gut-wrenching screaming matches when you can just stroll away?

There is no pat answer as to when to hang up the phone or when to give back the ring. But the tourniquet overuse is worth reflection. For marriage to work, divorce cannot be considered a possibility. Call it the D-word. The ineffable, unthinkable. Forget that it exists. Relationships can’t work when breaking-up is knocking on the door. Not with spouses, friends, cousins, brothers, in-laws, grocers or gardeners. (Tip: Treat everyone as your most important client.)

And a fight does not necessarily mean a break-up is on the way; it can just as soon (if not just as easily) be a stepping-stone to a balanced, strong, fulfilling and happy relationship. Better an acrimonious relationship than a non-combative drifting. Not always, but when in doubt throw out the tourniquet. And remember tears are being shed.