Divorce: The Elephant in the Room



There is nothing quite as awful as telling friends, family, or co-workers that you are getting a divorce. Responses can range from shocked to sad to curious, but one thing that every single reacting person has in common, is being very unsure of what to say to the soon-to-be divorcee.

As a recent divorcee, I’ve gotten some nice comments, some mean comments, and some in-between comments. I’ve also gotten some funny ones. One of my coworkers, upon hearing that I’d just gone through a divorce- paused, considered the situation, and asked me if I’d prefer condolences or congratulations. And I laughed, relieved that he didn’t have any advice or wisdom he felt he needed to convey to me, the most recent divorce statistic marring the institution of marriage.

With that in mind, here are three things that you can do to help your friend, family member, or coworker going through a divorce.

  1. Listen without judging them

Look, when I walked down the aisle to the Beatles’ song, “Here Comes the Sun” in my Vera Wang white wedding dress, I was not thinking to myself, I can’t wait to be a statistic. My marriage is obviously going to fail! Nope, not at all. I was happy and optimistic about the life I was going to build with my husband. But it didn’t work out the way I had hoped. Believe me, your friend does not want to be going through this. Just take the time to listen to them for a minute or two because divorce can be one of the loneliest experiences a person goes through in their lifetime.

  1. Support them in the best way you can

There are days when your coworker will have all of their ducks in a row. Honestly, there were some days at work that I was so focused and on top of my responsibilities that it wasn’t even funny. But then, there were those days. The ones where reality would come crashing in, leaving me struggling to function. My teaching partner was a lifesaver. She was always there to help me if the day took a turn for the worst. Be that one person that your divorcee coworker can count on; you are making a difference even if it’s in what you think is a small way. Your coworker will notice and be more grateful than you realize.

  1. Get them out

One of the most jarring effects of divorce is the new parenting plan. Whether that custody arrangement is 60/40, 50/50, or anywhere in between, your newly divorced family member is now having to face the fact that their children are not with them 100% of the time anymore. That is the most difficult aspect of a divorce, hands down. So, when your loved one is missing their kids because of custody arrangements, go get them. Ask them to dinner, to coffee, to the park, to the mall, to your house, to anywhere. Anywhere but their living room streaming Netflix at an increasingly alarming rate. Because it hurts. It hurts not to be with your children all of the time. I was never more thankful than when my family would stop by or ask me to go somewhere with them. It offered me a chance to get my mind off of the fact that I was missing my kids.

Divorce is the elephant in the room. Yes, the statistics of how many marriages end in divorce is alarming, and you may or may not agree with the fact that your friend has decided that it is the only option for them. However, and I think I’m speaking for a lot of men and women who have gone through this type of thing, it is honestly a life-saver when someone steps up and decides to be a good friend in times like these.

So thanks guys. Thank you to everyone who stepped up for me and helped me during one of the worst times in my life. I couldn’t have made it through without you.

The author of this post chose to be anonymous.