The People You Lose In Divorce – Spoiler Alert – It’s Not Just Your Spouse

calla-lilies

When people are deciding whether to end their relationship, they often focus on whether the impact of the divorce will impact them negatively or positively.  Whether the pros outweigh the cons.  Most importantly, whether they can live without their current spouse (of course you can, but how bad will it suck?).

What people forget is the collateral damage.  Of course the children are affected and if you are reading this, you are the type of parent that wants it to be as easy as possible on them.  What people don’t consider is that when you get divorced, it’s not simply who gets the couch and the fish, but who gets what friend and which family members are going to end their relationship with you.

So many of my readers email me and lament the friend that simply stops speaking to them.  They either choose sides or simply feel that your divorce makes them uncomfortable.  Women often treat other women poorly and no longer feel comfortable having them around their husbands (as if getting a divorce turns you into a dog in heat).  Some will stop responding to your invites because the fact that divorce hits home, and they worry that their relationship will end as well or maybe it should, and they are not ready to face that.

I learned this when my ex and I got divorced and I wrongly assumed that he had maintained friendships with people who had stopped speaking to me.  He was equally surprised as they were no longer interacting with him either.  We had simply both been dumped.  These people are not missed (real friends do not do this), but we were still surprised.

When dealing with family, you have to understand that your spouse’s family may very well stop speaking to you.  It hurts, but it is their job to support their family member and protect and care for them during this transition.  If they didn’t, you’d have to wonder what type of loyalty they possess and therefore, if you’d want them in your life anyway.  [Sidenote:  This stems from the “we don’t like them rule”.  If one family member is hurt by someone, you have to do damage control even if you are not taking sides.  Having a party and inviting two people who don’t want to see each other is never a good time.  Additionally, speaking to the offender could lead to allegations of gossiping, etc.  Just stay out of it.]

My ex father-in-law and I were very close friends for 5 years before I dated his son.  We had a relationship based on mutual respect and love.  It involved him helping me with things as a father figure, arguing/debating, and consuming mass quantities of hot wings and beer.  I was ecstatic to have him as a father-in-law.  When my ex and I split, things were said (not by me) and he chose to end our relationship.  I have seen him at the girls’ functions and he is cordial but we no longer have a relationship.  It was one of the most painful things about my divorce.  All that said, I’m glad.  My ex deserves a father like him and it be unfair for him to maintain a friendship with me.  I wish it wasn’t handled this way but his gruff inability to properly handle emotions has always been endearing.  I smile when the girls talk about him and I’m glad they have him as a grandfather.

I say this because people do not consider who they will lose in addition to their spouse.  This should not in any way keep you in a dead/abusive/failed/loveless relationship, but you need to prepare for this.  Being blindsided when someone simply stops returning your calls is much more hurtful than if you expect and prepare for this possible reaction.  Taking responsibility for your decision means understanding that others may not agree with it, and you may lose them.

Even if you do, you will be fine.  If you are already a single parent, you know you can handle just about anything by now.  People come and go as you grow.  It is normal to outgrow relationships and for relationships to end or evolve.  Be kind and open when you see them and make it clear that you are there if they ever change their mind.  In the meantime, you have a life to live.  Go live it.