I am coming up on a year since I have been separated from the X – six months divorced. I had my own ideas of what divorced couples go through and made my own judgments. Now I see that I had no idea what someone goes through when they get divorced. But just like when you get married and everyone has an opinion about if or when you should have children, everyone has an opinion about how you should live your new single life.
- They assume they know how you feel about being divorced – After breaking the news to an old coworker recently she responded with “Aww that’s like a death”. And when I shrugged off that statement and said not really, she insisted it was. What I wanted to say was “honey, I wish, but I have to see that jerk every week when I pick up my kids” but instead I nodded and changed the subject.
- They think you should find a new husband right away – It seems anyone who knows I am on the dating scene is pushing for me to find the next man of my dreams (or first one if we are being honest). I couldn’t think of anything I want less than to be married again and work through years of getting used to each other’s idiosyncrasies.
- They think you shouldn’t date at all – On the flip side those that don’t want to see me tied to a man immediately think I should be nowhere near one. “What’s the rush?” I’m divorced, not dead.
- They think that second weddings aren’t to be taken seriously – Not only do they roll their eyes at the idea of them, but if you must get remarried you should keep it quiet as if it is shameful. I don’t understand this mentality. So the crappy marriage gets the good celebration, but the second marriage, which was probably actually well thought out gets the shaft. I have heard people in passing say “Oh it’s just a second wedding” followed by another judgmental comment. I think two people are in love are two people in love and it should be celebrated however they please.
- All is forgiven if it wasn’t your decision – I learned this from my father’s perspective. We hadn’t told him originally the reason for the divorce. However my mother felt it was worth telling him when he found out somehow that I was dating again (big families never keep secrets). I didn’t feel it was necessary to tell him details that would only make him worry. But when he was incredibly disappointed in his daughter, finding out that I wasn’t the one who wanted the divorce miraculously made it all okay. As if being the “victim” is your green light for wanting a life after your marriage ends.
- They don’t know what to say – When the divorce was final, the first thing I did was start the name change process. Since then I have encountered many awkward moments when people ask me “How’s married life?” It now has become amusing watching their faces drop when I tell them I actually got divorced. Then there is that awkward pause where they aren’t sure whether to say they are sorry or say congratulations. I always encourage the latter.
No matter what the experience, people have an opinion about it. I am no different. I have had my fair share of opinions on other people’s lives. But as I get older and have new experiences that involve sensitive subjects like whether or not I am having kids, whether my marriage is a good one, how I am raising kids, and how I am handling my divorce, I notice that no one knows the right answer. Everyone is doing it all wrong and you don’t realize that until you have been in the experience yourself. What I think people should know is that getting divorced is no different than any other life milestone. It has happened whether you expected it or not, and you make decisions based on that to better your life and do what’s best for you and your family. And if you haven’t been in that situation or affected by it, maybe you don’t give your advice on it.