Disclaimer: Opinions ahead! Prepare to be offended.
Note: These points mainly apply to you if 1. you are just finding out about the divorce or 2. you are not super close to the divorcee. Also, I reserve the right to add on to this post as I encounter more socially insensitive, mouth breathers.
I have been divorced for almost 8 months now and i’m not gunna lie to you, it’s a weird and confusing experience. No one gives you a handbook on how to properly be divorced. No one says; ‘Oh, this is how long it will take to feel real…’, or ‘When people ask what happened this is how much information you should give… ‘ or even ‘You should start dating when…’. Gag. Thank goodness for therapists because otherwise I would be floundering more than I already am. I feel very fortunate to have (for the most part) been treated with a lot of respect, love and support during this tumultuous time in my life. However, there have been smatterings of interactions with people that have made me feel about two inches tall. Here are the ones that have irked me the most and made me consider throat punching the perpetrator.
- “How long were you married!?”, “Well, how long did you date before?”, “So how long will you date before marriage next time?”. I’m sorry, if you try to insinuate that something as insignificant as a timeline is what could make or break my marriage, that’s rude. People are people and relationships are messy. There is no perfect timeline that will protect you from heart ache. What works for one couple could not work for another, but in reality we are all trying to make the right decisions for our lives. So why are we trying to judge others when it doesn’t work out and blame it on their time frame. Here is the truth. My marriage story is ridiculous. I know this. It is not news to me. And when I tell you my courtship timeline and you raise your eyebrows and purse your lips at me, I can see the “Well no wonder it was a disaster” written across your face. My ex-husband proposed to me 33 days after we met and we were married four months later. Our marriage lasted a year and a half. But you know what, I don’t think I made the wrong decision. I was in love. The timing made sense for our lives. I prayed about the decision and received multiple spiritual confirmations that it was a good choice for me. Not the only choice, but a good one that I WANTED. That was and is enough for me, and should be enough for anyone else.
- “You really couldn’t tell he had issues?”, “You really didn’t know about that?”, “Why didn’t you see the red flags?”. News flash, people lie. My ex ended up being an emotionally abusive addict. Of course he didn’t advertise his issues to me before we were married. Of course he was putting his best foot forward. EVERYONE DOES THAT. It’s easy to look back now and say ‘oh, I should have picked up on how secretive he was about this’ or ‘I should have notice how he reacted in this situation’ but of course there was no way for me to know at that time. And i’ll be honest, i’m an optimist. I tend to see the good in people before I notice the bad. So I wasn’t looking for clues as to whether he would be the man he said he would be. I took him for the person he presented to me. On top of that, he is from Russia which throws a whole different dynamic into our relationship. A lot of his ‘quirks’ were easy to pass off as a cultural difference or a misunderstanding. We are all fools in love. And we all have our bits of surprise crazy that we uncover over time. Don’t judge when someone wins the crazy lottery.
- “Wow he is such a (fill in the blank).” My ex is not a villain. He is a person with real struggles, illnesses, dreams, ambitions and positive qualities. I don’t know if I have reached complete forgiveness yet, but I don’t hate him and I don’t think he tried to hurt me on purpose. I have worked hard to heal as much as I have and accept that his choices didn’t make him less of a child of God. I don’t need you, after hearing a minute summary of the hardest year and a half of our lives, to write him off as some worthless, sinful creature. We worked for a year and a half trying to overcome issues, addictions, habits and pain (not all his). He was worth that year and a half, and if it weren’t so damaging to my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health I would have willingly surrendered more time to trying to make our marriage work. I have the most reason out of anyone on Earth to hate him. However, I pray that he finds joy, health, recovery, fulfillment, love and success. Why should you wish him any less?
Not sure what you are allowed to say? Here are some positive alternatives (feel free to rephrase in your own words):
- I am sorry that you had to experience that struggle.
- Is there anything that I can help you with?
- What have you learned from your experience?
- What advice would you give?
- What do you have going on in life that you are excited about!!!
I would love to know if you thought this was helpful, or informative, or your thoughts in general.
*These are my opinions that I formed from my own experience. I do not think that all divorced people feel the same way, but I think many of us would benefit from this change in dialogue.