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What People Will Say About Your Divorce. . .and How To Respond.


When people find out that you're getting divorced, they will have a lot to say about how you feel and what you should do.

Like, A LOT.

The instruction on how you should feel and what you should do -- as well as the unsolicited legal advice -- will come from complete strangers, acquaintances, family and close friends, or all of the above, many of whom have never been married, or divorced, or have any basis at all for what they're telling you.

This will be second- and third-hand "information" that they heard from someone else they cannot remember, who had a distant relative that that person could not remember, when said distant relative's divorce involved completely different circumstances compared to your divorce.  In addition, the so-called "information" that you receive will have been misconstrued and misstated several times before the "information" (imagine that I'm using finger quotes when I say this) reaches you.

These people -- your family and close friends -- who tell you how to feel and what you should "watch out" for, will believe in that moment that they are just trying to help you.

This will happen to you many, many times.

They will say things like:

"Wow, the kids must be really upset."

"Oh this must be sooo hard for you."

Sort of like when I was taking the bar exam (twenty-five years ago -- yikes) and pretty much every single person that I spoke to in the two months leading up to the exam told me that "it's okay if you fail.  JFK Jr. failed the first time, too."

Wait. . . what?

This never made sense to me until I become a life coach, and developed a deeper understanding of the human brain.

Our brains are wired to look out for danger.  So, it makes perfect sense that these well-intended people would spot the "danger" and then have the urge to point it out to you.

When they do, and unless you intentionally decide what to think and believe, you will probably freak out.

And, they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about.

I'm very confident telling you that you should NEVER, EVER listen to this "advice" (picture the finger quotes again.)

In 20+ years of representing clients in contested divorce and custody cases, I have had hundreds of clients come to me panicked because they received "advice" from someone about that person's  third cousin's second wife's divorce. . 

And every single time what that person said was not accurate.

Every. Single. Time.

Listen, you don't need legal advice from anyone other than your divorce lawyer.

And you most definitely don't need advice from other people on when, where and how often you should be afraid.

Here's a great idea.  How about you decide how you're going to feel?

You're the one feeling the feelings.  Maybe you should be the one intentionally generating them.

Y'know, like with your own thoughts.

It is not a requirement for you to believe that getting divorced is "sad," or that you should be feeling overwhelmed.

You might decide to believe that it is the best freaking thing that ever happened to you.  Or, that it is sad but you're going to grieve that loss, and then you're going to turn the page and be okay.

It is not a requirement for you to believe that you must protect your children from feeling sad.

You and your children can feel the full plate of human emotions.

In fact, allowing those feelings is literally the healthiest thing you can do for yourself, and for them.

As for the other humans and their advice, just let them tell you whatever it is they think they need to tell you.

Then, smile, wave and promptly delete from your brain whatever it is they said.

Talk to you soon, my friends.