The world is full of well-meaning people who like to give divorce advice but advice should be treated like food from a buffet table: Take what you like and ignore the rest. You have to do what’s best for you and you shouldn’t feel guilty about ignoring advice that doesn’t come from a professional (like a lawyer) or doesn’t apply to your life; especially when it comes to divorce! Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Just because Hollywood is doing it, you don’t have to be “consciously uncoupled.”
Thanks Gwyneth for that gem of a phrase! And since I’m giving G-Palt a shout out, I might as well include Ben and Jen for demonstrating to us all how to properly “consciously uncouple.” Look, I’m all for civility but when it comes to divorce that’s where it begins and ends for me. When you divorce someone, you’re pretty much telling the world that you no longer dig the whole “until death do us part” agreement. Once that is established, a basic tenet of the dissolution of a marriage is that you no longer live together; and call me crazy, but it effectively ends the relationship.
If you still have minor children, obviously you remain somewhat entangled but here is where the civility comes into play. Play nice, exchange the children, say goodbye. From the pragmatic side of things, I believe it sends an awful mixed message to the kids when mom and dad hang around together and pretend to be one big happy family again. We all know that children spend a lot of time fantasizing about this happening, so why give them false hope?
Bottom line? Don’t let Hollywood be your litmus test for how you should act after your divorce. I’d probably suck it up and pretend to be friends with my ex for a 45 million dollar mansion too, but beyond that, no. Just remember, Hollywood is not real and what goes on in front of the cameras has nothing to do with reality. I wouldn’t twist myself in a pretzel because you don’t feel up to double dating with your ex and being BFF with his new wife.
To err is human, to forgive is not necessary.
I may have twisted that quote a bit but I am a little skeptical of people who claim they instantly forgive those who trespass against them. As a divorcee whose marriage ended over infidelity, I’ve been told on more than one occasion that the best thing for me to do is forgive my ex for cheating. Then the standard line of “it’s more for you than him” usually follows shortly thereafter.
It’s at that point that my eyes roll involuntarily and even though I may not say anything; I’m quite sure the look on my face is analogous to one that I might have if someone told me that Donald Trump thinks before he speaks.
From a purely Christian perspective, forgiveness is given when the person who trespasses against us is repentant and asks for forgiveness. I never saw any indication that my ex even acknowledged what he did was wrong. He was far too busy justifying his behavior and blaming me for his actions. There was no repenting and he certainly didn’t ask for my forgiveness.
I accept that what he did is in my past. It is no longer happening to me so it doesn’t hold any power over me. I am no longer angry and I don’t sit around wishing for his death or for all of the protruding parts of his body to fall off (much). Letting go of the anger was the key for my healing, not forgiveness per se. Who knows, maybe that is what forgiveness is and maybe I’m just getting hung up in semantics. The important thing is not to get hung up in what other people say you have to do in order to heal. If you are no longer letting the anger eat at you, then you win!
“No” is a complete sentence!
By far one of the most important things for a woman to learn! As an adult who also happens to live in a free country, I can pick and choose my friends, and pick and choose what I will and won’t do. The best part? I don’t need to justify my decisions. This little life lesson would have come in handy before I went through a divorce.
Case in point: My ex wanted to remain friends when we divorced and I played along while going through the process so I could cut the drama to a minimum. Once I moved out, he felt he was still entitled to my friendship which extended to me doing favors for him. These favors were very inconvenient for me and seemed to be never ending. I thought I had to remain friendly until I received the money from the divorce settlement but those funds would not be forthcoming until the divorce was final. Since that had a 4-month time span and my frustration was reaching an all time high, I reached out to our mediator. I needed to know if it would be detrimental to the settlement for me to cut off ties altogether with my ex.
Once our mediator established that the only things that could change our settlement were 1) if we decided to get back together or 2) if either of us committed fraud, I knew in theory, I could drop the pretense of being friends. Saying no to his requests for favors, however, was a little more tricky, so I created some drama to give me an excuse to get out of helping him. This was completely unnecessary.
When the answer is “no”, there is no justification required, no drama needed. The answer is just no. So say it like you mean it and say it as though Oz has spoken!
A few more choices added to the buffet of advice.