A divorce between two partners is complicated enough; when mutual friends and in-laws are thrown into the mix, allegiances can be tested and bonds threatened. Loved ones who have come to think of you as part of a pair may suddenly feel forced to take sides. They may even blame you — temporarily — for tearing apart a "package" they considered complete.
Consider this example: Danielle has been best friends with her sister-in-law, Toby, for years. Ending her marriage is hard enough, but the "divorce" from Danielle's dearest confidante has been even tougher.
Danielle tells it this way: "My sister-in-law and I were roommates in college. I was a senior when I started dating her brother, Charles. Now that we're splitting up, Toby can't face me. That whole family sticks together like glue and it makes me furious."
The sad reality is that, especially in the first few months after a couple decides to divorce, there will be those family and friends you thought you could count on who will go to the "other side." It's not that they don't care. They care deeply about you — and your spouse. It's just that they feel torn and upset.
Remain positive and cut them some slack. Don't insist on undying loyalty at a time when everyone is so confused and vulnerable. Try to show some sympathy for the sympathizers by anticipating and understanding where they're coming from.
These tips will help:
Family trumps friendship. Clearly, Toby is caught between a rock and a hard place. She loves Danielle like a sister, but her brother is her brother. And after all, there is good reason that clichés like "blood is thicker than water" are so often repeated.
Switzerland is not on the divorce map. People who get divorced soon discover the seas part when they go public with the news. Don't be fooled and think your friends and family can just stand on the sidelines and not get involved. And even if they try to do so, it is likely you will interpret their neutrality as treason. After all, you're the injured party, right?
Don't ask. Don't Tell. Some friends and family may withdraw altogether, rather than risk taking sides. You may find that they not only don't want to hear about the divorce, they might act as though it's not even happening. Do not interpret this as ambivalence toward you personally. It is probably more about them and their need to avoid conflict.
All dish all the time. Others in your circle may immediately drop your soon-to-be ex spouse like a hot potato. In an effort to support you, they will fan the flames of the split and help you put him down as often as possible. It may feel good at first, but try to limit the muckraking if you can. In the end, it will only leave you stuck in a bitter cycle and unable to move forward.
Crossing enemy lines. Of course, a few may disappoint you and rally around your ex, the "enemy." One socialite told me that she was dropped from her circle of friends when they discovered she could not keep up with them when her circumstances were drastically reduced.
Too close for comfort. Lastly, some family members and friends will be ill-at-ease with news that you're seeking a divorce, because their own marriages are rocky. And your decision leaves them feeling threatened. These folks will drop out of site completely. Neither you nor your soon-to-be ex will see hide or hair of them and that's just as well.
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