After a Divorce - How to Answer Questions from Curious Acquaintances and Friends

While divorce refers to the legal process of dissolving a marriage, the consequences are rarely restricted to the estranged spouses. This is because the institution of a marriage does not exist in a vacuum – families, friends, acquaintances and co-workers all want to know what happened in case of a breakup of a marriage. While you may feel it necessary to let your parents and close friends know what is going on in your life, questions about divorce from curious and casual acquaintances and friends need to be handled differently.

Accept the reality

Before you feel ready to answer questions about your divorce, you need to be strong enough in your own mind to know what to say and how to say it. It is imperative that you have accepted the reality of your divorces and are not entertaining false hopes of getting back together or ambiguities on the dynamics of your relationship with your ex. At the same time, divorce brings such an emotional upheaval that many things seem unclear and confused. So if necessary, take some time off from your social life in the immediate aftermath of the divorce. Face up to the reality of the breakup and collect your thoughts. Once you are calm and clarified in your mind, you will feel better prepared to face questions about your divorce from the world.

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Be brief

It is unfortunate but people often ask questions not to know the facts but to gloat over other’s misfortune or at be mentally thankful that such a thing didn’t happen to them. Thus when faced with questions about your divorce from curious friends and acquaintances, keep in mind that you are not obliged to please them with details of your own misery. At the same time you may have genuinely caring people who feel they need to share your unhappiness but may nevertheless be uncomfortable with the sordid details of your failed marriage. For all these reasons it is best to keep the answer short and to the point. For instance when asked if asked if your in-laws had a role to play in your breakup say a simple “no” or “yes, to a point”; you need not launch into a narrative of the times when they dropped in unannounced or criticized your housekeeping.

Stick to facts

Even in case when people really seem to care and want to know what happened, it is always better to stick to facts. When offered a sympathetic ear, you may be sorely tempted to let out all your feelings of hurt, anger and betrayal caused by the divorce and while you are at it, you may even be carried away to add a few embellishments of your own. However this is not a good idea when answering questions to casual friends and acquaintances. This is because they do not know you well and may interpret your minor additions as outright lies and the hallmarks of a deceitful personality. Only close friends and family members who know you inside out will understand the psychological pressure that may cause you to give way to some exaggeration when speaking of your divorce.

Send out a positive message

Once you have finished going over the bare facts of your divorce, end with a forward-looking response. For instance if you have been forced to relocate, add that you like your new neighbors or that your kids have already made friends at school. In the immediate aftermath of a divorce it can be difficult to zero in on anything hopeful in your situation so as you go out into the world, make sure you have a couple of gracious and succinct comebacks at your disposal. You do not have to lie about moving on or make up facts but simply send across the message that you and your family are on the road to recovery.

Fend off blame

Even being known to you on a casual basis will not absolve such curious friends and acquaintances from passing judgments on the wisdom of your actions. There will be those who will try to lay a guilt trip on you or blame you for the divorce. Under such circumstances you can accept the difference in perspective but at the same time deflect their attempts at passing judgment by saying something like I realize you may not agree with my decision, but I'm going to have a tough road ahead and I could use your support. In fact if you have kids, you can add that their understanding will make it easier on the kids too.

Avoid being drawn into ex-bashing

Sometimes the opposite can also happen – in other words your friends and acquaintances in their eagerness to show their support for you will be only too ready to launch into an extensive critique of your ex. Instead of being defensive or baring all the inner workings of your union, stop them in their tracks by saying something like "I know he has his faults, but he also has some good qualities or I wouldn't have married him in the first place. I'd like to move on."A statement like this works wonders to fend off those who may think bashing your ex will somehow make you feel better. Initially hearing others make you out to be the hero form the struggle may make you feel better, but over time, going on and on about your ex’s faults will only keep you mired in negativity and prevent you from moving on.

Don’t get into swapping stories

As curious friends and acquaintances gather around you in the aftermath of a divorce, there will be those who have “been there and done that”. These battle-hardened soldiers of divorce will be only too eager to share their stories of what their exes did to them and how they managed to get the better of their scheming partners. While there may be something to be learned from those who have been divorced, you also need to keep your wits about you. These tales are often self-serving and can easily become overwhelming for someone like you who has just begun the process of coping with a divorce. They can also turn you off forming new relationships.