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.
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.
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.