One of the more difficult things I experienced early in my divorce was the social fallout as everyone I knew began to hear the news that my marriage was over. Obviously, the announcement had to be made because people who worked with us, we did business with, or who knew us for various social reasons needed to know we were no longer together. For some, such as car insurance, it was simply a matter of a data entry correction. For others, it prompted am emotional response and the expectation of an awkward explanation.
I preferred to tie up all the loose ends and make everything official as quietly and privately as possible. Divorce is a dirty word to many people, and I had very mixed emotions about it. I didn’t necessarily want to get into a full-on explanation of my private affairs in the grocery store check-out lane. I discovered that many people are very quick to jump to conclusions about what happened, and they love to assign blame.
So many people don’t even consider the fact that a divorce could be a mutual breakdown of love, respect, and communication. It simply has to be someone’s fault or wrongdoing that resulted in a divorce outcome! That’s not always necessarily the case, however! Yes, sometimes there is a primary marriage culprit; but, often it’s a combined effort of years, a dwindling connection between spouses, and the erosion of respect, communication, and other factors.
Some people simply could not understand why I would get a divorce. I have to assume those folks have perfect marriages! The judgement vibe rolling off some people seemed to suggest that I didn’t even try and gave up too easy. Let me just say that I am fully aware that marriage is a huge commitment, very hard work, and something I took very seriously!
I finally concluded that I would never be able to make everyone understand why I did what I did, but it doesn’t really matter what everyone else thinks! I’m the one who walks in my shoes, pay my bills, look at myself in the mirror, and will face the questions my children will have.
It didn’t then, nor will it ever truly matter what anyone else thinks when it comes to my divorce, and here’s why:
I’m the only one who really knows what it was like! Others may think they have an idea what my ex or our life was like; but, I promise those who knew us have no idea! I guarantee people would be shocked by some of the things that happened in our home and that I quietly endured. As the saying goes “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” so certainly don’t judge my marriage or experience based on its nice façade!
My definition of “too much” will never be the same as anyone else’s. I know when I reached my limit; but, others may have still been comfortable under the same circumstances or given up much sooner! Each of us has our own standards and limits. I can’t judge what someone else would do in their marriage, and I certainly don’t want others speaking as authorities about what happens behind my closed doors or in my mind! The fact that I divorced does not mean that I don’t value marriage or gave up too easily!
My definition of “I tried” will never be the same as anyone else’s. I know I tried. I stayed years beyond unhappiness, to the point that it did me physical and mental harm to remain. I did so because I made a promise I intended to keep and because (at the time) I believed an intact home was better for my kids. Divorce does not automatically equate to taking the easy way out, as some assume. Ask anyone who’s been divorced, and they’ll tell you there’s nothing easy about it!
I did what I needed to do. I’m the only one who will ever live my life, experience everything that I do, or be accountable for my decisions. I can’t waste my breath worrying about if others would make the same choices. My decisions fit within the context of my circumstances. I did what I know to be right for me and my situation, and I will be the one to live with those consequences. I made choices that I can live with, and that’s all that matters!
Everyone has an opinion, and they’re entitled to it! If we all shared the same perspective and lived the exact same way, this world would be a boring place! I understand that people have vastly differing beliefs about divorce and everything associated with it. There’s no way I can make everyone happy or make everyone agree with me. That’s alright, because others do things that I don’t understand. I’m not going to drive myself crazy worrying that I don’t fit someone else’s image of perfection or trying to change their views!
If you’re on a divorce journey, I hope you will join me in not letting the reactions, opinions, and ignorance of others affect your outlook or your progress! I learned that others form their views about us based on their own experiences and what little they can gather about what we’re going through. Some may mean well, while others somehow feel entitled to judge. Whatever their reasons, their actions will have a minimal long-term effect on us, if we pledge to stay true to ourselves and act in our own best interest!
You know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Your actions will have very little impact on most other people. It’s not fun to feel like we’re under a social microscope, but public interest in our lives will fade as someone else’s personal struggle will soon catch everyone’s eye! There’s no need to feel salty toward those who don’t “get” or support what we do; however, who are you living your life for?