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I'm Getting Divorced

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If a friend tells you, "I'm getting divorced," what's the best way to respond?

sad woman getting a divorce

Single Mom Seeking: I've often blurted out, "I'm sorry." But it has never quite felt right. What have you said to a friend who has told you she's getting divorced?

I've turned to some divorced -- and recently separated -- mom bloggers and asked them:
"What did you want to hear when you told a girlfriend you were getting divorced? What do you wish someone had said?"

"I agree that 'I'm sorry' is meaningless," says Kat Wilder.

She advises against bad-mouthing the soon-to-be ex-husband by saying something like, "I never thought he was good for you."

Instead, she says, "I think the most important thing -- if there are kids involved -- is to remember that whatever bad feelings you hold against your former spouse (anger, resentment, etc.) aren't going to help you two be the best co-parents you can be. Ultimately, it will be the children who will suffer. The best thing a divorcing couple can do is appreciate the way each one parents and loves the children -- and get along as best they can."

"Try to avoid looks of shock, gasps of surprise, and awkward hugs," says Nicki of Suddenly Single Journey. "Also avoid admissions that you saw 'that' coming and insincere gestures. I think also that trying to disperse words of wisdom and religious content may offer less comfort. (Yeah, there may very well be a God who has a better plan for me ... but it doesn't feel like it so much right now. And I know that if it was meant to be, it will be, but crap!)

"What I prefer are those people who look at me with genuine concern and simply ask, 'How are you holding up?' It gives me an opportunity to talk, if I feel like it. And it lets me know that they care. These are the people I surround myself with at the moment."

"What I needed most -- and got from one or two people at the time of my divorce -- is what I would offer now if I received this news: a shoulder, or an ear," says BigLittleWolf. "No judgment, no referrals, no advice.

"Simply: 'If you need to talk, I'm here to listen,' or, 'If you need me, just call.'"

"Here's what I did when an ex-colleague came by my house to tell me she is filing tomorrow: I got out my file and gave her a referral. I wrote everything down that she will take to her attorney tomorrow," says Ms. V. "I said, 'I support you completely. What else do you need?' Then I gave my friend a hug, and told her: 'You have two boxes. An emotional box, and a legal one. Keep them separate. Deal with your emotions APART from what you will do legally.' Boy, did I learn that the hard way."

next: Child Abuse: Don't Ask, Don't Tell
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sally November 7, 2009, 2:40 PM

Kool !!! if she is a big fat hairy monkey!!

poker unlimited November 13, 2009, 9:37 AM

Getting divorce seems to be just normal these days. We have to consider our children’s well-being. It is of most importance that both parents come up with certain agreement. Though they may be separated but it doesn’t mean they have little love for their children. Some arrangement can still work.. and indeed be the best co-parents that they can be.
If a friend of mine will get divorced, I will also hug her, making her feel she can make it. Share some words of wisdom would also help and keeping to yourself unwanted judgment.

CDW December 1, 2009, 7:32 AM

Being divorced myself I usually give adivice about the kids as stated in the article. After that I say “welcome to the good life.”

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