The city of Wesel, devastated by Allied bombin...

The city of Wesel, devastated by Allied bombing in preparation for the crossing of the Rhine on 22-23 March 1945. Originial description: “Walls of houses of Wesel still stand, as do the churches, but a great part of the town was destroyed when the German commander forced the Allied troops to fight their way street by street through the ruins. Germany, 1945.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divorces are in some ways like wars between two rival factions.  Just like a city that has been carpet bombed, some closest to the impact are vaporized while others remain completely unscathed.  Who remains standing is almost random.  In-laws might also completely abandon the non-related spouse regardless of the reasons of the split.   When a couple decides to separate they usually have no idea how many other relationships they might damage or destroy in the process.

Bending Reality

For some friends who want to stay close to your spouse, they will bend, twist and invent reality in order to justify their loyalties.  In one such case I can think of a spouse who had not one but multiple affairs.  The affairs were blatant, public and included some of his spouses’ friends.  When the couple finally split, it was almost shocking to hear certain friends of the couple declare.

“That poor man, she won’t even work on the marriage”

So was it the wife who wouldn’t work on the marriage or was the husband having multiple affairs?  Maybe she had just given up at that point, it wasn’t a one time fling while on a business trip, he had full-blown affairs with other women including one that was on-going while they were working out the terms of their divorce.  I know I am picking sides here, but I would say the husband was probably more to blame in this situation than the wife.  Numerous serial affairs including people she trusted and called friends over a period of several years, and somehow the divorce was her fault?  It makes the mind spin.

The Public Relations War

When two celebrities divorce it is just a given that professional publicists are feeding stories to the press to make their clients look as good as possible  The same thing happens on a smaller scale when any couple splits.  Both parties act as their own public relations team leaving out horrible misdeeds and cruelty they have inflicted on the other.   In some cases total fabrications emerge.  One couple I know the wife has created fantastical tales of abuse even criminal behavior on the part of her ex-husband.  Her stories are not incredibly believable, in part because the stories get more and more extreme as she retells them, and she doesn’t keep her facts straight.   As I have caught her in several inconsistencies I just don’t give her much credence.

The best thing to do in these situations is to try to stay calm if your former spouse is trashing you to your social group.  The more you fight back the worse you will look, although if they are making wild accusations that might jeopardize your occupation or child custody, you should seek legal counsel and try to defend yourself.   I made every mistake possible during my divorce and made many things public that probably should have remained private.  If anything my behavior just caused people to be concerned for my well being, I was hurting myself more than my former spouse.

Then you are going to have friends who will simply project their own divorce hell or baggage onto your situation.  I had one such experience with someone I considered a close friend.  He basically hated his ex-wife.  Hated her with a passion that would be difficult to put into words.  When I was going through the worst of it, he didn’t feel I was treating my ex with enough respect.  Now mind you, our divorces were in no way shape or form similar.  My former friend was angry with his ex-wife and projected his own feelings about her onto me.  He started making cruel comments to me about my divorce right away, until it finally escalated to a point that I would not tolerate it anymore.   I do not consider this person a friend, and given the circumstances I am better off without him.

Lost Baggage

One of the more positive things about a divorce though is that you no longer have to keep up relationships with people you never liked in the first place.  Anyone married for any length of time has friends and associates that are only around them because of their spouse.  Consider your split one of the rare opportunities when you get to drop those unwanted acquaintances without any social stigma whatsoever.  No one will blame you when you stop talking to your ex-husband’s Poker buddies, or your ex-wife’s work out pals.  It’s time for a clean slate!

And of course some friends will surprise you.  They won’t pick sides, or if they do they will side with you and not your former spouse.  I was lucky to have some people in my life who have been extremely supportive and caring throughout my ordeal.  But overall I have been deeply hurt by those who basically abandoned me.  In some cases I tried to reach out to those who have cut me off and with others I simply let those connections atrophy and die.  It definitely has made me more careful about who I allow in my life now, and who I consider a true friend.   And it has strangely given me a tougher exterior, I just don’t flinch when cutting someone out now.  I don’t really like this new quality of mine, but I think it is here to stay.  When the dust settles, and it may take years for it to finally be over, you will see who stood by you when things got rough.  Those who remain are worth keeping around, those who left you don’t know what they are missing.

10 comments on “Life After Divorce: When you Lose Half your Friends

  1. talktala:_ ori

    And you haven’t hit the most critical, important, intrinsically meaningful part of a divorce…who keeps the pet?? 🙂

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  3. Anders

    Friends lost on the part of an abusive spouse are best gotten rid of. When people choose sides in a relationship conflict it becomes clear where their actual allegiance is. Life is also to short to even bother to deal with “friends” that don’t know which leg to stand on, anyway.

    Sadly enough the mental and emotional carpet bombing can continue for decades after a divorce, especially if there are children involved.

    Regardless of what the ex does the only real choice which is available is, freeing oneself of the other persons continual negative influence, by forgiving the unforgiver.

    Also, let me state this clearly. I don’t think that betraying or abusing another persons trust should be easily forgiven. Forgiveness is an act on the part of the forgiver who want’s to rid him/her self ,of the bonds to a person who have behaved in an abusive manner. It has very little to do with letting the other person of easy, but rather everything to do with freeing oneself of the burden of the other persons evil. Since we have plenty of work dealing with our own short comings, and if anyone is perfect and does not need self improvement, good for them.

    If you don’t mind a question, Given that going through a divorce is a traumatic experience and the process of looking for a person to share ones life with after, is in a sense even more taxing. At this point, how do you rate the things you have learned about yourself and other people, through this experience, against how painful it has been ? I hope this question makes sense, if not disregard.

    1. julietjeske

      I have definitely become a less judgmental person. Marriages fall apart for all sorts of reasons and sometimes one half just wants out so desperately they will do nearly anything to wreck the marriage. I also think it has weirdly strengthened me in some ways and damaged me in others. I used to be far more concerned about what people think of me, now I couldn’t care less. I feel a lot less needy for approval. But at the same time I am deeply suspicious of others especially men and I have a serious problem bonding with a new man. I am pretty open about this with most of the men that I date, so they know what they are getting themselves into. But it is rather sad, I just have difficulty having strong feelings for anyone.

      But I definitely don’t condemn a person who totally screwed up their marriage. I may avoid dating them, but I wouldn’t cut them out of my life because they don’t know how to be a good spouse. Or they may have married the wrong person and they had little choice but to end it. I really try to not pick sides in a divorce, but at the same time if someone is really being abused by their partner I would beg them to get out. Life is too short to be stuck in some personal hell.

      1. Anders

        When things go bad in our lives we become aware of reasons why other people do things that we previously thought to be wrong. Individuals who are inherently idealistic may become just a tad more pragmatic. We adjust our thinking but the hurt is still there. The hurt make us more careful in the future. I think you are wise to be emotionally cautious.
        From seeing the number of comments on the “straight spouse broken memories” post, you are not alone in this experience. I hope the best for you and I hope you find safe, meaningful and gainful employment very soon. I hope you don’t mind me write this but I truly hope your can find stability in your livelihood. I write this because I think you already have begun to prioritize gainful employment as number one. I wish you the best even up to the point that you will be so busy working that you’ll only have time to update your blog once every other week. 😉

  4. Ele

    Anders,

    I am not yet at the point of forgiving the man that has taken so much from me. My community, my spiritual leaders, most of of friends, some of my kids, lying about why I left. The list goes on and on.

    Last night I watched a very powerful documentary on Netflix called “Forgiving Dr. Mengele”.
    It was about one woman who survived Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and the horrific medical experimentation Dr. Mengele, often referred to as “The Angel Of Death” to those he tortured.

    This lovely lady has spent her adult years on a crusade learning how to forgive those that did the most unforgivable things man can do to another human being.

    Watching this was an amazing experience. I have been so consumed with hate, hurt, resentment, and utter amazement at the things this person that betrayed me and brought on a divorce after 34 years of marriage, is doing to hurt me out of spite.

    I am having to really give some serious thought on the subject of forgiveness after watching this show. It stirred an emotion in me I was not expecting as I was watching only out of my interest in the Holocaust and WWII.

    I offer my suggestion if you have access to Netflix to get this documentary and watch it in the spirit I was not expecting. Since it was just last night I watched it, I have not yet figured out what I need to do., I realize after seeing this remarkable woman able to forgive not only this horrible Dr. but Nazi’s and the Germans responsible for the Holocaust, only in her name, not for all survivors or the millions who suffered or died, maybe, even without my ex’s realizing his wrong doings and asking for my forgiveness,( which I do not think will ever happen) I can consider freeing myself from the hate I feel that is holding me back from true happiness that I so need and deserve. I did not do wrong, so I do not need to keep the suffering going.

    Just a suggestion to someone I understand the struggle of forgiveness.

    Ele

    1. Anders

      Ele

      I have no plans to get Netflix but I have seen and read other accounts of survivors of several of the atrocities that humans have inflicted on each other. It seems as if those extremes of abuse triggers a psychological reaction or soul reaction if you will, where we simply give up the hate and forget about trying to sort out why someone is capable of acts of pure evil. Leave it to the Universe to deal with. That is really my point, and It seems as if that documentary really helped you to see that letting go is the only rational approach.

      Did I say that any of this is easy ,NO this is hard work and that’s why it’s such a great idea to not having to forgive in the first place.

      Spiritual leaders that go with evil spouses are most likely of the same ilk so good riddens.

      Anders

      1. Ele

        Anders,
        Thanks for your thoughts. My feelings on the matter tend to waiver a bit day to day.which makes me realize I am not nearly as close to true forgiveness as I would like to be however moving the documentary was, I feel today much less able to forgive as I did the night I wrote about it.

        The man I was married to had an interest in other men for the entire duration of our marriage.When I caught something currently still going on, I FINALLY could not live that way any more. With my self worth being slightly beaten down, I tend to relive the same feelings of never being good enough, pretty enough, nice enough, and the list could go on and on.

        I left the state where he still lives, as do 3 of my adult children. I do not have a healthy relationship with a few of them due to him involving them where I promised I would not, the members of my neighborhood which are also the members of my (past tense) church, and most of the friends I had there.He has let people think I left him for no reason, or that he was just not the nicest husband but he has changed and I wouldn’t give him a second chance. Can we say hundreds of chances?

        I agree with you it is not an easy thing to forgive someone that takes from you everything you have built your world around. Marriages take two to make them work or fall apart. Not all divorces are two sided. Well, my part was I let myself stay too long.

        This is comes back to forgiveness. I want to be forgiving for my sake. He will not come to me asking for forgiveness. I do not expect that. He blames me. I need to heal and become a whole, happy, healthy person and will never be able to do this with out forgiveness. So, I need to watch my documentary again, and learn again how Ava could forgive her offenders.

        I sounded closer to forgiveness the other day, didn’t I? Have a great day!

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