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13 Things You Should Never Say to a Divorced Woman

by Kiri Blakeley on January 28, 2013 at 12:20 PM

The other day, a divorced friend of mine began complaining about her divorce -- not so much the divorce itself (although that was traumatic enough), but the things people will SAY to a divorcee. And we're not even talking good friends. Like, random people. My friend is a performer and some woman walked right up to her after a show and said, "Why don't you go back to your maiden name?" Huh? Why don't you go back to your own business, lady?

Here are 13 things you should never say to a divorced woman. (As told by REAL divorcees!)

1. "Why don't you go back to your maiden name?" A woman might have many reasons for not dropping her married name. In my friend's case, she is a performer who had built up a following on her married name. Other women have built up a professional reputation. Some women just don't like their maiden name -- maybe it's hard to spell or impossible to pronounce. Others want to continue to have the same last name as their children. Other women just aren't ready. It's her call, not yours.

2. "I knew he cheated/was gay/had a gambling habit, etc." So you knew. Wow for you. What you're really saying is, "I knew. How come YOU didn't? I'm so much smarter than you." And if you did know the guy was doing something and didn't say anything, what kind of friend does that make you?

3. "I'm sorry." This is okay if said in a neutral tone, but apparently saying it like your friend just told you she's dying isn't appreciated by everyone. Some women are all too happy to be getting divorced. And if she says something like, "Oh, don't be. It's for the best," don't argue with her.

4. "Thank God you didn't have kids." This was said to a friend of mine who indeed hadn't had kids with her husband. Which just served to remind her that she now not only didn't have a husband, but didn't have children either. Which is fine for some people, but can be a bummer for others.

5. "I almost got divorced once." OK, you're probably trying to sympathize and say you understand how hard marriage can be. But it comes across like what you're really saying is, I almost got divorced once but we worked through it and you could have too!

6. "You still look young. You'll meet someone." Wow. You look young? I.E., You look it, but you're not!

7. "How could you give up that lifestyle?" Uh, because she might have had very good reasons for "giving up that lifestyle"?

8. "They're not all like your ex/you'll find someone/there's someone for everyone, etc." Maybe that's true but probably the LAST thing on your friend's mind right now is finding someone else.

9. "You're so lucky! Now you can start banging people and have a bunch of sex!" Yeah, again, probably not what is on your friend's mind at that moment.

10. "You're going to love it. Life is so much better divorced." Again, if your friend's divorce is fresh, she's probably still devastated. Or maybe she's not. But for God's sake don't say anything like that until your friend makes it clear she is ECSTATIC that the cad is gone.

11. "You'll get over it/You should be over it by now, etc." It's not up to you to put a timeline on your friend's healing.

12. "I could never understand why you two were together to begin with." Okay, you've just wiped out a person's entire marriage. There was probably a lot of good things in it, or they wouldn't have been married. Or even if there wasn't, no sense rubbing her nose in her unfortunate choice.

13. "Couldn't you have waited until the kids grew up/were out of the house/got into college/graduated from college/were out of diapers, etc.?" Obviously not. And who are you to decide someone should stay married for the kids? Maybe the bad marriage was making the kids miserable. Maybe they begged their parents to get divorced. (To paraphrase Woody Allen.)

But what should you say when your friend -- or even someone you just met -- tells you she got divorced? Divorced women suggested saying things like, "I'm sorry," but not in a tone that would be more suitable to her dying. There's also: "Is there anything I can do?" "Hang in there." "Divorce is tough." "Take time to heal." "Do you want to talk about it?" "I've been there." (If you have.) And then there's offering to do something with your friend, like maybe inviting her to a yoga class or for a girls' night out.

What do you think people should never say to a divorced person?

 

Image via Cosmic Kitty/Flickr

Filed Under: divorce, breakups

Comments

17
  • Angie...
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    AngieHayes

    January 28, 2013 at 12:40 PM
    So basically your saying we can't say anything to someone who has or is going through a divorce..
  • Karma...
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    KarmaGrant

    January 28, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Wow, what a crock. 


  • laure...
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    laurenemb

    January 28, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Why the hate in the comments? Would either of you seriously ever say one of those phrases to a divorced woman? Because if so, I sincerely hope all of your friends are still married.


  • Shrew2u
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    Shrew2u

    January 28, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    I have to agree - there's no comment on that list that I would say right off the bat to someone who is getting divorced.

    Having said that, I might say a few of those things if, during the course of the conversation, certain information was shared.  I would never say 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 or 9-13 inclusive, but there are a limited number of situations where I would say 3, 4, or 8.  An example being someone who divorced an abusive spouse and didn't have children with that person - yes, I would say she was lucky not to have had children in that specific situation.  Another example is if she expressed a fear that she'd never be able to fall in love again - yes, I would say that she's loveable and she'll be able to find love when she's ready to open herself up to it again.


  • MaryC...
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    MaryCimino

    January 28, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    "I know a place we can hide the body, just say the word and I'll get a shovel!"

    This one made me laugh when I told my Best Friend I was getting divorced from my abusive ex.


  • Karma...
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    KarmaGrant

    January 28, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Actually Lauren, I've been divorced and yes I still say, what a crock. 


  • jalaz77
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    jalaz77

    January 28, 2013 at 4:00 PM
    Haha MaryCimino!! I said to my aunt when she got divorced, YAY!!!!! We all did. God he was a loser, he still is and his own daughter sees it, she sees how manipulative he is, my aunt never brought her into their issues cause she knew her daughter would figure it out. These comments wouldn't bother a close friend or a family member, maybe an acquaintance, I do think that when a person says "I knew he was like that, or a cheater, or gay" or "We never liked him" are truly stupid comments and I am not so sure I would trust that friend then. Friends and family should have your back, now if they said those things to you EVERY TIME you bring a new boyfriend around I would start question the people criticizing every move you make. I have said sorry to many people who get a divorce followed with if you need anything let me know.
  • SassB
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    SassB

    January 28, 2013 at 6:02 PM
    "LISTEN", as a verb that you do.
  • Samfan97
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    Samfan97

    January 28, 2013 at 9:42 PM
    I, too, think some of these are a crock. And I have been divorced. I certainly think #3 and #8 are acceptable in many situations. Truthfully, there are no words that help but just listening and being supportive go a long way.
  • jessa...
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    jessasmamma

    January 28, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    I'm divorced from my daughter's father and none of these things bothered me when/if someone said it. The ONLY thing that ever got me slightly annoyed was when someone said "why didn't you try harder?" or "divorce is the easy way.", etc. or something along those line. And YES - I have had people say those things to me.

    I NEVER wanted a divorce. EVER. He made a snap decision because he couldn't man up and accept responsibility for the mistakes that he made (cheated). I was the one who was willing to go to counseling, etc and do everything we could to make it work. He is the one who never showed up to our appointments, etc. 

    So it really bothers me when people automatically assume that because you are divorced - you weren't willing to put in the effort. I get that people don't know my whole story and they REALLY aren't trying to imply anything about me, but it's frustrating. 


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