Tell someone you are divorced (or getting divorced) and you are sure to get an earful, most times without even asking! “Who would divorce YOU?” “Men are such jerks!” “I bet he’s an asshole,” “Oh, I’m so sorry, was he cheating?” and my favorite, (and this is usually accompanied by the person putting his or hand on your shoulder): “Let me give you the best divorce advice.”
Most people love to talk versus listen. They jump at the chance to voice their opinions, to speak their minds, to try to impart their own little piece of wisdom onto you, and most of all, to give when they think is…the best divorce advice.
Some divorce advice I have gotten in the past has been GREAT. Pearls of wisdom, valuable gems of information, and advice that I’ve listened to and was really glad I did.
Then there’s the advice I got that made me smile politely, while in my head I’m rolling my eyes so far back, I’m actually getting a headache.
I say, take divorce advice from who it comes!
Here’s who I think gives the best divorce advice, and who you might want to ignore:
The Best Divorce Advice comes from:
Who better to give you suggestions about what to do in certain situations than people who have gone through it? (Like Divorced Girl Smiling!!) They get it. They’ve lived it. They have a good understanding and lots of empathy for what you are going through and certain situations. They’ve done things wrong, they’ve done things right. Learn from their mistakes and their experiences.
Friends of the opposite sex:
I have to refer to one of my all time favorite movies, “When Harry Met Sally.” Having a friend or friends of the opposite sex is great because you get to hear the guy’s (or girl’s) perspective. The guy can tell you what’s going through the mind of your ex-husband in certain circumstances. A guy’s perspective can be insightful, eye-opening, and it can help you deal with things with a little bit more empathy, now that you have an idea of what your ex might be thinking.
Your best girlfriends:
You know who you can trust and you who can’t. There’s a big difference between your bestie (who has known you forever) versus a few women you’ve been hanging around recently. Your BFF’s will tell you the truth, no matter how much it might hurt. They will also inspire you, make you feel loved, and even tell you what you need to hear, at times.
Your sister/brother If you have one:
I’m grouping him or her into “the best girlfriend” category. Blood is pretty gosh darn thick. Even if you aren’t really, really close, your sis or bro will stick by you in divorce. He or she will have your back on this one.
I have gone to the same therapist on and off (when I say ‘off’ I mean I didn’t see another therapist, I just didn’t go) since 1994. I’m serious when I say the woman has never been wrong about one thing. It can be infuriating, but facing up to the truth is always better than masking it so you will feel better. A lot of people get angry with their therapists for telling them the truth. Think about that.
Your divorce attorney:
You’re paying this guy (or woman) $350-500 per hour –those are the rates in Chicago—so listen to their advice! They’re not wrong! If you are doubting their advice too much, you need to get another attorney. Plus, they’re in this to help you as much as possible. They are being paid to be on your side, to help you have victories, to help you have a great post-divorce life. So listen to them because it’s in their best interest if you are happy in the long run.
YOUR GUT INSTINCT is never wrong. Listen to its advice. If one of these people above don’t seem genuine, don’t be afraid to stop talking to them. If the advice your attorney is giving doesn’t seem right to you, don’t be afraid to talk to them about it. And, if need be, don’t be afraid to switch attorneys.
Beware of divorce advice from:
People who haven’t been in the situation who sound judgmental.
Here’s a good example. I was out with a few friends once and a woman was talking about how she was going through a divorce, and her STBX was an alcoholic, and she was afraid to leave her kids with him. Another woman (who was married–and had no experience with alcoholism) jumped in with the advice, stating that the woman should not allow the STBX to have the kids, how if she does that she is a bad mother, and how she should go to court and get a court order right away to get full custody. I’m sitting there thinking, ‘How the hell do you know what you are talking about? You are married and you don’t live with any alcoholics. The point is, if someone is trying to give advice and they have no experience, you might not want to listen.
God bless them, but they are older and they are tired. They shouldn’t be hearing every detail of your divorce, and they aren’t always in a position to give good advice. Plus, if they have been married for decades, they might encourage you to stick it out because that’s what they know. Or, if they are divorced, they might encourage you to stay or to leave. The bottom line is, your parents are the two people who love you more than anyone on earth. They have the best intentions, but be a little bit cautious.
“If I ever got divorced, I would never get married again.” Every single married person says this, which leads me to my theory that married people are clueless when it comes to divorce advice. I’m not saying they are stupid or have bad intentions. In fact, they might be your best friend and love you dearly. But, they don’t know the correct answer on what your custody arrangement should be, or how you feel when your ex is getting remarried. They just don’t. My biggest pet peve was when married people would tell me when it was time for me to start dating. At the beginning of my divorce, they would say, “You’re not ready. Just take some time for yourself.” How do they know? Or, during a time I didn’t want to date, they would say, “You should be dating. You’re getting older. You’re not always going to look like this.” Ugh!!
Bitter divorced people:
When I meet a divorced person, I can tell in 30 seconds if they are bitter and acting victim-like, or if they are healing and on their way to a better life. I try to stay away from bitter people-not just divorced bitter people, actually, but all bitter people. And, I especially don’t take divorce advice from them. It’s like injecting poison. When you meet someone like this, RUN the other way. Bitter people will paint everything in a negative light. You’re getting older, you’d have more money if you didn’t get divorced, your kids will be affected forever, your ex is an asshole. They only have negative views. Here’s the better way to think: You’re getting wiser, you weren’t happy when you had more money, your kids are doing great, and your ex is a kind person, it just wasn’t the right fit.
The best divorce advice…
…or any advice, honestly, comes from inside of you. Today, in particular, I had some tough decisions to make and felt like i was under a lot of stress. I wished so badly (like I do a lot) that I could call and ask my dad. And then I thought, what would he say? And some of the answers came to me. It was like he was here with me, giving me the advice. Maybe he was, but I think it was me who was giving me the advice. And, it felt pretty empowering.