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I have a couple of friends who are divorcing.

My wife and I met them about eight years ago. They were a picture perfect couple - he worked as a saleman for a firm that sold industrial products, she stayed home with their two boys with a third on the way. We hit it off well from the first. They were one of our "couple" friends. I could talk to him and my wife to her and everything was great.

They moved away about 4 years ago, so she could go to school. We kept up. We visited. We knew they were having some problems, but we didn't know how bad. Then one day, we get a call from him. He is in town with the kids and wants to go out to eat. They come to the house and we all go the restaurant. At dinner, he breaks the news. Perfectly good dinner, shot to hell. How can you eat with ten-pounds of lead in your stomach?

We have had the horror of watching our two friends become singles. It's like having ringside seats at a flaying. These two who cared for each other once now are at odds. They say all of the right words about how they don't wish the other ill, but you can tell they don't mean it. He feels betrayed, she feels justified. Both mouth words about doing it for the kids. Both act as if life is all the same, but it isn't.

And here we are, feeling like property that gets split up in the divorce. We have let them both know that we are not choosing sides. We won't let them make us part of their conflict. We will see them both and will cry with them and laugh with them. We won't let them bad mouth the other in our presence. As my wife so beautifully put it , "We lost the couple. Losing either of them as individuals would be unbearable."

I got an e-mail from him yesterday that has haunted me since then. It was full of ire and venom. And the question I keep asking myself is this: how can two people who used to care about each other come to this?