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The stigma of divorce

Posted by mandyf on August 27, 2012

Divorce is riddled with pain, anxiety, and a host of questions that usually don’t have answers. What went wrong? When did we stop talking and start tuning each other? Was it my fault more so than I’m willing to admit? Then you add in the issues of property division, perhaps custody, and of course you can’t forget the financial impact on each of you. What about your friends? Will they be divided amongst you like so many other things have, or is it possible they can still remain parts of each of your lives even if you have split from one another?

The social stigma that comes with divorce is something that often goes overlooked. With so many other things going on we rarely if ever step back and think about how we will be impacted in that area of our lives. For the most part we just assume life will go on as it always has when it comes to our friends because friends always stand by your side through good and bad right? That’s not necessarily true when divorce is a factor. Sometimes it is such an issue when a couple divorces; it causes problems for the friends of the dissolving couple as well.

Too often they feel compelled to choose which creates tension not only in the way they interact with the divorcing couple, but amongst that circle of friends. Spouses sometimes can’t agree on how to handle the situation and see the divorce in a totally different light. Sometimes those friends can’t decide what to do and withdraw from each member of the divorcing couple completely. They then have a sense of loss and anxiety as well. Sometimes they only intend to step back until things settle, but then never weave back into the active life of other of the divorcing parties and slowly fade to little more than a memory.

Of course you can’t forget the way even the new people you meet look at you a little differently when they find out you’re divorced. It’s not as bad as it once was years ago when divorce was still more taboo, but the stigma still exists. You can almost hear what people are thinking when they find out. It is as if they are thinking “you failed.” They would almost certainly never say it aloud, but that is often the first thought that seems to come to mind. They wonder what kind of relationship you can offer anyone if you couldn’t make the most important one in your life work.

It’s a fact of life that friends often come and go in our lives for any number of reasons. When it is due to divorce it is doubly painful because it is the double the loss. It is like going to the doctor and finding out your heart just went bad, and then a month later finding out your lungs are shot too. Fortunately a spouse and friends are a bit easier to replace than a heart and lungs, but the pain is just as real.

Dating can be a challenge because again there are people that look at a divorcee as a failure. They wonder deep within the back of their mind if they will just quit when things get hard? If they wouldn’t save their marriage, why will they fight to save any other relationship? Of course not everyone thinks that way thankfully and sometimes after knowing a person better that anxiety is eased, but enough do that it is an issue. Some even use it as cannon fodder when disagreements arise, throwing it in the divorcee’s face as a means of hurting them. It is all too sad but true.

Because of nothing more than being unable to make a marriage work there will be old friends you lose. By the same token there will be potentially new friends that will always judge you differently as if you had a huge “D” for divorced stamped on your forehead. It is an outdated and trivial stigma yet divorced people live with it every day until they die. The stigma of divorce touches everything in life.


3 Responses to “The stigma of divorce”

  1. Yordie said

    Your comment, “you failed” could not be more correct. That pain is too personal for me to discuss. Friends say not to feel that way, but the funny thing about feelings is that they often have nothing to do with facts. Great post, Mandy.

  2. Simply Me said

    Your comment “The social stigma that comes with divorce is something that often goes overlooked” so hit home for me. I have been divorced twice which is even worse, and the second one was almost 4 years ago. Still the stigma remains …

    I remember as clear as day when I walked out of the courtroom a divorced woman at the tender age of 26, I felt like a failure. My exact thought at the time was “I couldn’t even make my marriage work” and I called my mother to let her know that I had just joined the “divorced statistics”.

    It really does hurt, so many conflicting emotions, but there really is life after divorce, and I intend to live it fully. Thanks for such a great post.

  3. […] the stigma of divorce https://mandyf.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/the-stigma-of-divorce/ […]

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