Divorce is never an easy decision to make, but the discomfort of this monumental life change can sometimes be compounded by negative reactions to divorce coming from those around us. Some comments and reactions may come from a place of shock, disagreement with the situation, or simply not knowing what to say or do in the face of such an announcement. One thing we can all agree on is that more stress and negativity is the last thing we need when going through a divorce, so how do we brush off unpleasant reactions to our divorce?
Expect Negative Reactions to Divorce From People Just Outside Your Inner Circle
Most who know us very well are probably aware that our marriage has been in trouble and likely headed for divorce. These people who are part of our trusted inner circle also probably have a better idea of how to talk to us during the most trying of times, and we may take what they have to say a little easier, even when they are brutally honest or in disagreement with us.
The people most likely to say the wrong things are those who are a step or more outside of our inner circle. People often say or do regrettable things when taken off guard. Add surprise on top of unclear comprehension of the circumstances, and someone is likely to have an “open mouth, insert foot moment.” Try not to let what (usually) well-meaning but ignorant people say get under your skin. While it’s true that they should probably not weigh in on a situation that is not really their business, many will speak up because they feel they really should say something, and just don’t know what!
People Will Have Varying Beliefs of Divorce
It’s well-known that many cultures and religions are vehemently opposed to divorce. To be clear, we would be hard-pressed to find anyone who contends that divorce, as an institution, is something to strive for; but, those of us who have found ourselves in this place understand that sometimes it’s necessary! Although we may respect the right of others to hold their beliefs, sometimes those with differing beliefs don’t extend us the courtesy of allowing us ours.
Unfortunately, some people we know will take it upon themselves to explain to us that what we’re doing is wrong. Perhaps they feel that they are ministering to us and can “save” us by sharing what they think. At other times, they make us feel judged and burdened with guilt or shame for our divorce. The intent may be to help or enlighten, but it results in making us feel bad!
The best way to address reactions stemming from differences in beliefs is to simply acknowledge that we won’t always see eye-to-eye with others. We are entitled to our opinions, and so is everyone else. Best practice is not to shame others whose ideas don’t align with ours; but, if someone directs these attitudes on us, it is not likely that we would ever have much chance of changing the way they feel. This is probably a case of “let’s agree to disagree,” then, don’t let the opinions of someone who sees things so differently influence the way you feel about yourself or your divorce.
Loyalty Runs Deep For Many
Typically divorces divide more than just the couple going through the divorce. Very often, we also lose friends and even family as the result of the marriage’s end. Those who align themselves with our ex (usually because of a family relationship or they knew our ex before us) may react out of the loyalty they feel for him or her. Knowing that their perspective is influenced by sympathy felt for our ex, we can’t take what they say too seriously.
Their responses may cut deep; however, we can’t forget that they are likely only hearing one side of the story, and feel obligated to stand by our ex no matter what. We may regret seeing this person exit our life, but this is not a person we will win over, and their opinion can’t be one we allow to affect us moving forward.
Expect Ignorance and Negative Reactions to Divorce
Very few people know the intimate details of what goes on inside our homes and our marriage. Some people may speak as though they know what’s best for us or as if they are in a position to judge or counsel; but, the fact is that many will operate on misinformation or views formed from what little information an outside observer could gather. Hearing someone spout off about things they don’t fully understand is aggravating, and just another example of how we can’t let what others think bother us because they just don’t know!
It’s really not even worth it to waste effort to try to set the record straight. We are very unlikely to change the opinions of the person who speaks with authority about matters they are lacking proper facts for, and may have to take solace in knowing that no one understands what we’ve been through except for us, therefore no one else can “get it” the way we can, and that’s okay. No one else needs to comprehend or approve of our life decisions.
Not every reaction received during divorce will inspire hope or positive vibes. Some of our friends and acquaintances are lacking in empathy or a filter, so their responses can run the gamut from rude to inappropriate or clueless. Rather than allowing them to make us question our choices, feel bad about ourselves, or become angry, we should, instead, hold on to the fact that we are doing what we believe is right for us. We are armed with all the facts, we know the chain of events, and we are the ones who will live with the consequences.