Even though divorce is unfortunately a common part of life for many of us, we shouldn’t have to put up with so much misunderstanding and judgment. The stigma surrounding divorce is tied to several things, but most often to the idea that it’s a sign of failure. Though, this is only a perception, and a very inaccurate one at that. Divorce is full of disappointment, struggle, pain, and difficulty, but it can be an incredibly powerful force for change. The possibility for growth that comes during and after the process of healing can lead to opportunities we’d given up on or never even imagined.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the opinions and feelings surrounding divorce and why society’s hangups shouldn’t keep you down. Then we’ll explore better ways for us to support one another during divorce and lastly, look at a few tips for getting through this difficult time.
Understanding the Stigma around divorce
Throughout history, because of various societal and family reasons, divorce has been viewed in several negative ways, often as a broken promise, a betrayal of one’s commitments, as irresponsible, or a violation of one’s religious convictions and community values. While many cultures have changed for the better over the years in relation to divorce, most of us still carry a mix of feelings and beliefs around marital separation and about those who either choose or are forced to walk through it.
We put a great deal of emotional, psychological, and financial investment into our marriages. It is usually the most essential relationship we experience in life. So, it is not surprising that such strong feelings arise around the subject. None of us want to be made to feel like we’ve failed, like we’ve walked away from a commitment. Other times, we find ourselves feeling just fine about our decision to leave, especially when we are doing so to protect ourselves or our children from harm or neglect, even while others around us may not understand the complete picture and react to us with judgment and unkindness.
It is important to remember that despite the opinions of others, only you know the full story. No matter the reasons for your divorce, you deserve an open mind from those in your life.
Why those walking through divorce deserve our respect and compassion
Divorce is one of the most difficult things many of us will ever walk through. For some, it is the hardest. Divorce affects everything and everyone near to us, our children, our attitudes toward work and career, our relationships with friends and family, our finances, our plans, and our sense of purpose and meaning. No matter why it’s happening, divorce will be an arduous process for those facing it, full of doubt, confusion, loneliness, financial changes, conflict with kids and extended family, and the need to find closure and direction. The last thing these individuals need from is judgment or shame.
We have the opportunity to make a difference in those suffering during divorce. Divorcing spouses need our love and support. Constantly analyzing them, making them feel guilty, or showing them a cold shoulder won’t put the marriage back together. It won’t fit all the pieces of life together just right. Our scorn or personal beliefs won’t help that person get through this time toward a better future, which is ultimately what we should desire for them. If we are truly their friend, we should want to do everything we can to encourage them and bring direction in this trying time.
What they need is our friendship and our listening ear. Make time both for meaningful conversation when they want to talk and also for times of leisure and fun to take their mind off of things. Be willing to hear them out, to let them cry and mourn the loss, to laugh deliriously if it comes to that, and to seek counsel. Steer friends away from self-destructive choices during their divorce, things like addictive behavior and substance abuse, unhealthy rebound relationships, compulsive spending, and the tendency to self-isolate and push others away.
Listen more than you speak, at least twice as much, and help them seek professional help when needed. Be the strong, loving, engaged friend or family member you would want them to be to you if you were getting divorced. We only live once; let’s do our best to make that life the best we can for each other.
Get the help and support you need during divorce
As we mentioned, professional counseling is often a wonderful choice to help you navigate this time. A therapist’s professional experience, knowledge, compassionate yet honest approach, and dedication to getting you to a healthier, stronger place in life is a resource like no other. In addition to this, reach out to other community and health services available to you, such as faith-based groups and leaders, public support groups, family and health coordinators, nutrition and wellness coaches, and older mentors with greater life experience who can help us understand things about our own life they may have already walked through.
During this time it is also important to maintain healthy patterns and relationships. Seek out time with friends. Take short trips for stress-relief and a new perspective. Take up new hobbies and activities that give you a sense of purpose and drive toward a better life. At the same time, though, keep your good patterns going, for you and your kids. Maintain meal times and family events like movie nights, dinners out, walks together and outings. Make sure your kids stay connected with extra-curricular activities and hobbies that have always brought each of you satisfaction.
Divorce can be a time of positive change
Not all of divorce is negative, and not all divorces are the same. There are several reasons people decide to call it quits on their marriages. Divorce, while difficult, is also a time that allows you to re-evaluate everything in your life. It shakes things up, dislodges old pain, and brings to the surface, a reminder that you have an opportunity to make significant changes. It may be time not only for small things like hair, fashion and fitness choices, but deeper things like a career change, a move out of state or country, international travel, going back to school, making new friends, learning a language or musical instrument, and eventually meeting someone new.
While divorce itself is an ending to something important, it is also the beginning of a new era in your life. Even though it hurts, take time to think about what you want to see changed in your life, what you’ve always dreamed of pursuing or achieving but maybe felt cut off from or unable to reach for. Right now may be the time to finally take the leap. It will take consistent work and self-discipline. But it will bring you so much joy and self-confidence, seeing and feeling the growth you’re discovering with every new experience.
In divorce, there is a lot of pain, sadness, anger and confusion involved. So much of life shifts during this time, for you and others around you. However, it’s also a time of opportunity. If handled with vulnerability, openness, honesty, and wisdom, it has the potential to be a time of great transformation.
Despite age-old stigmas surrounding divorce, the most important thing is the healing, growth, and stability of your life and your children’s lives. Surround yourself with supportive, loving people, continue with activities that bring you joy and meaning, find ways to relieve stress, and seek professional counsel to gain a new perspective and the tools you need to get through. You have it in you to overcome, no matter what others think. You are worthy of love, respect, and dignity. Never forget it!
Torrone Law is dedicated to helping you navigate divorce with confidence and clarity so you and your kids can return to a place of wholeness. Connect with us today and discover how good it is to have a committed and experienced partner to walk alongside you during this difficult time.
For quick answers about divorce, see our frequently asked questions below.
Is there a stigma surrounding divorce?
Unfortunately, there often is. In many cultures, attitudes have gotten a lot better over the years. But most of us still have to deal with a certain level of preconceptions, judgements, misunderstandings, and antagonism from others.
Marriage is often the most vital relationship in our lives. It’s natural that we carry strong feelings and beliefs around it. However, no matter what we think about someone’s marriage, or their decision to divorce, it is important we remember that only they know the full story, and they deserve our kindness, open-mind, friendship and compassion.
What can I do to lessen the judgements of others regarding my divorce?
It isn’t always possible to completely change what people think. They are going to believe what they believe regardless. But communicating openly with them, sharing your mind and heart and asking for genuine support is a great place to start. Spend more of your time with those who desire to understand you and want to be a source of strength and encouragement in your life.
If there are some who continue to rail against you, dial back the amount of time you spend with them. You don’t always need to completely cut them off, but if they are not a positive and loving presence in your life, it will only harm you to be around them often.
What are some things I can do to get through a difficult divorce?
It is a little different for everyone. But most of us need a mixture of similar things. Surround yourself with supportive friends, maintain activities and hobbies that always brought you joy, stay connected with groups, focus on activities that relieve stress, consider taking on new endeavors and challenges you’ve been putting off, get an excellent counselor and always have a trusted lawyer by your side.