Before I got divorced (10 years ago), I had no idea what I would experience, and what life after divorce would look like. So, that being said, every divorced person should remember that all of our married friends have no clue about what it’s like going through a divorce or being divorced.
Let’s help them out! Here are 11 things divorced people want to say to their married friends and family. Let me know if you agree or disagree, or if you have something I forgot!
1. Don’t judge us. It’s so easy for people to judge when they don’t have all the facts. Every divorce is beyond complicated, with countless factors that the couple must consider when making decisions. When I was first getting divorced, a woman in my community said to a friend of mine (who told me, of course), “Why would she ever divorce that guy? He’s such a great guy and a good dad!” While I agree wholeheartedly with the woman about my ex-husband, we had our reasons. This judgmental woman was not living in our house and had no clue what our issues were. So, butt out! Also, people say things like, “I can’t believe she’s not going for sole custody!” or “How could she stay with him when he cheats all the time and she knows it?” I can answer these questions to these judgmental people: Men and women take ALL the factors into account when making decisions. And the judgers have no idea what ALL of the factors are. Life decisions are made by choosing what a person thinks is best. So, while the decision someone made might appear to be wrong, or not the decision they would have made, it was the right decision for the two people who wanted the best outcome.
2. Do you really think we wanted to be divorced? I recently had a heart to heart talk with an old friend about my divorce. I hadn’t seen her in many years and she never really knew why I got divorced. Until a few weeks ago, I think she was judging me. When we really talked, and I gave her the story, I think she understood. It’s easy to think someone jumped ship too easily, but honestly, when people get married, they do not want to be divorced, so whatever the reason is, (whether you know specifics or not), you better believe it was a pretty good one.
3. Don’t pity us. No divorced person wants others to give them that look. Let me tell you about “that look.” It’s when you are first separated and everyone is finding out, and you run into someone and they give you this look like you just found out you are terminally ill. And then they say, “How are you?” with a sad smile. What you want to say is, “Well, things suck right now, but I’m on my way to a much better place! So, really, I’m excited for a wonderful future! How are YOU doing??”
4. Set us up! I know your divorced friends love lives are not in the forefront of your mind every minute, but if you meet anyone single, set us up! Divorced people can lack self-confidence, so if you set someone up, that shows them that they are still attractive and wanted, and have the chance for love again. Also, divorced people can be lonely. So, even if you set someone up and the two people end up becoming friends, you’ve done something great!
5. Please don’t call us pretending to be concerned when all you really want is the scoop. When I was first getting divorced, I will never forget, I got two calls the same day. The first one was an old friend, who said, “OMG, I heard so and so moved out. What happened??” After that phone call, she never called me again, and I have never spoken to her. The other call I got was from an old friend who left a message that said, “I’m just calling to make sure you are Okay. You don’t have to tell me anything or go into details, I just want to let you know I’m thinking about you and if you want to talk or get together, I’m here for you.” BIG difference. Love this girl!
6. Invite us out. When I got divorced, many couples stopped inviting me out for dinner with them. I guess it was just too uncomfortable. I know it probably wasn’t personal, but it really hurt. A lot.
7. Don’t ask us about our divorce every time we get together. There is a woman in my community who STILL asks me how things are with my divorce. It’s been 10 years! I am almost to the point where I cringe when I see her, even though she isn’t a bad person, just because I don’t want to talk about my divorce any more!! Now, I will say, when someone is getting divorced, many times, that’s all they want to talk about. But if they don’t bring it up, you shouldn’t either.
8. Don’t tell us about what our ex’s are up to. “I saw your ex out on a date the other night. The girl was really pretty.” Someone actually said that to me in month 2 of my separation. Seriously? Why the fuck would I want to know that?
9. Don’t badmouth our ex unless we ask you to. Divorced people are funny this way. We can get offended if someone badmouths our ex, but if WE want to badmouth him or her, then we want the person to fully agree and chime in. It’s a hard time. Just appease us.
10. Please don’t tell us when we should start dating. “I’m sure you must want to be by yourself for awhile and not rush into dating.” That came from a married person, which makes sense because anyone who is even remotely happily married cannot understand that by the time you decide to get divorced, you have been so unhappy and lonely for so long, that you might want to date the minute the two of you decide to get divorced. So, the only person who can decide when they are ready to date, is the one going through it.
11. Remember that there is only one of us and there are two of you. This is particularly applicable to carpooling. I have been in carpools with parents who were all about being even-Steven. What that means is, the divorced mom has to drive one way and then one of the two married people can share the other way. To me that seems unfair. I have also been in carpools with people who were so over the top trying to help me out, that it made me cry (in a good way.)
In closing, I don’t want to slam any married people because for the most part, I remember how much most of them tried to help, in their own way. But honestly, I think they are clueless when it comes to so many aspects of divorce. So, my advice is, if a married person pisses you off in any way, by something he or she says or does, just be honest with them and explain in a nice way how you feel. Remember that they aren’t in your shoes so nothing was meant to hurt you. And lastly, in the midst of a divorce, it’s so easy to talk about your own life and forget that your married friends have problems they want to talk about, too. Ask how they are, listen to them and don’t minimize their problems. Divorce or no divorce, you will find that most of them will still be the same friend you’ve always had.
Like this blog post? Check out, “Loneliness: It Might Be The Worst Pain Someone Can Feel”