The stat says that one in two marriages will fail. Considering that, it’s a testament to love and hope (and denial?) that so many of us get married. And it shouldn’t be so surprising that a lot of us wind up divorced.
So, as a divorced mom amongst mostly married ones, let me share 10 things I—and other divorced moms friends—may not have the nerve to say to your face:
It’s not contagious. We can still hang out.
My divorce may make your marriage better. You’re welcome. Because you may have noticed that all four of us—me and the kids and their dad—have suffered. Or maybe you overheard me say, “I love you. I’ll see you on Sunday,” when I hugged my 7-year-old daughter goodbye at school on a Wednesday morning, and you thought, “I don’t want that.” (I didn’t either.) You may put extra effort into your marriage, and that’s awesome. It’s even more awesome if your spouse does the same.
I’m lonely. I might act like I’m fine, but I often feel like the hunchback freak among all these happily coupled couples. Even if my marriage wasn’t what I wanted, there was someone there. I had someone in my bed. Someone to parent with. Now I’m alone nearly all the time (not counting my kids), unless I make plans to be with another person. So yeah, I’m lonely, even if I hate to admit it.
I still love him. I always will. He’s a good guy in many ways even if we weren’t meant to be married forever. That doesn’t mean I’m not angry and hurt and heartbroken and disappointed and afraid. Did I mention heartbroken? But I don’t want to bash him. Please don’t bash him for me, even when you’re trying to show me you love me. I’ll tell you if I need to vent.
Respect my privacy. I know when the news came out, people whispered and gossiped and speculated about what had happened. Divorce scares people—married people most of all. My story: we’re two different people. Of course there’s more to it than that. And if you’re a really close friend, you already know what happened. If you’re not a very close friend, prepare yourself for pat answers and vague explanations, and let it go at that.
I don’t want your husband. Don’t worry. He’s an awesome guy. And if you have a happy marriage, I’m envious. I might want to have that again … one day. In the meantime, if you trust me (and you should), let me hang out with you and your hubs if we did that before. I still like being around men I like, but you are way more important to me than he is.
Yes, you can set me up. It’s hard to meet someone new regardless. Now imagine doing it with a recent divorce, midlife and two school-aged kids in the mix. Online dating is a terrifying proposition (and yes, I’m doing it) but women like me do it because we have few options. Setting me up, even if it doesn’t work out, tells me you care.
Treat my kids the same. The last thing I wanted was for my kids to have divorced parents. Think of how they feel—the foundation they took for granted is gone. No matter how much parenting I and their dad do, no matter how much we reassure them that our love for them hasn’t changed, they’re fragile. If you’re in their lives, let them know that their world, as far as you go, is still the same.
Include me (and my kids). I saw you slip away to give your husband a squeeze and a kiss when my kids and I were there. And my heart seized. It made me sad and envious. But your mutual love gives me hope that I can have that in the future. More importantly, I want my kids to see what loving, stable, positive relationships look like. If I can’t show them that (at least not now), it would be great if you would.
I’m here. Finally, some of you are going to find yourself in my shoes. That’s not what I want for you. But it’s not up to me. And if you wind up, despite what you expected or wanted or hoped, facing the end of your marriage? Call me. I’m here. And I’ll help you find your way to the other side.