Divorce is an uncomfortable subject. If you haven’t been divorced yourself, you probably don’t know what to say – and you will likely end up with a foot in your mouth.
As you go to see a friend or family member that is divorced or going through a divorce — keep a couple things in mind.
Good marriages don’t end in divorce
Divorce is not an accident.
Given that, there is no need to say “Sorry“. There is no shame in being strong and happy.
As a divorce attorney, and being divorced myself, here are a few things I hear often to avoid. Hopefully this will help you prevent some really awkward moments that were unintended.
“I never liked him/her anyway”
Leave this one alone. Unless you are the best of friends, this is not what a divorcee wants to hear. Either way your friendship and integrity will be in question. Why didn’t you say something?
“What A Shame! You Guys Looked So Happy”
As most know, people put on a happy face to maintain an intentional public persona. We all do it at holiday dinners, outings with friends, and so on. The ride to and from these events could be a living nightmare. Hearing comments like this just makes a divorcee feel even worse about their decision.
No need to lay on the shame and the social status. In many cases, divorcees are happy to be free of an unhealthy marriage. Divorce is difficult, but it isn’t the end. It is a bridge to new beginnings.
“Did You Try [fill in the blank]?”
Wow. Really? This is a very judgmental statement. You will only make them feel like they didn’t do enough, or that it was their fault — when you really don’t know the whole story. You will never understand every moment and detail that lead to the decision – so it’s best to stay clear.
“But What About The Kids?”
Divorce is difficult for children, it’s no secret. What is more difficult is children growing up under terrible conditions and a loveless marriage. Children will emulate and form their own relationships after their parents. An intact, miserable family is not what is best for the kids. Happiness is best.
Overall, everyone wants to help – and divorcees understand. That support makes divorcees feel less alone. The best advice is to just listen, if they want to talk. Just be there. You don’t need the right words or magic wisdom. Tell them you don’t know what to say. You don’t need to find the positives or how to fix it.