What Not to Ask Your Friend Getting Divorced

By Amanda Singer

When you have a friend getting divorced, sometimes we don’t know what to say to them. While there are certainly some things you can say that will be better than others, there is one question you shouldn’t ask your friend getting divorced. That is “what happened?” or any variation on that like “why are you getting divorced.” Even if this is your best friend, you don’t need to ask them that question because if they want to share with you what happened in their marriage, they will tell you. If they haven’t told you, they probably don’t want you to know. Now it’s human instinct for many people to be curious about what has gone on in someone else’s life but keep that thought to yourself. I have a friend who told me that when she went through her divorce, she and her now ex-husband were very amicable still and decided that they would not talk about their relationship, what happened or why they were getting divorced with anyone else.  The only people who needed to know what had happened were them, and they didn’t want it to become gossip and something that they discussed with everyone they knew. If you’re going through a divorce, you may not feel the same way they did, and you may want to be able to talk about it with your friends and family as much as you want, but that should be each person’s choice.  By asking your friend, “what happened?” you’re putting them in the position to have to answer your question and talk about something they may not want to or to put up a boundary that they may or may not feel comfortable doing.  Either way, you’re putting your friend in an uncomfortable situation.

As I said at the beginning, we often don’t know what to say to people who are going through a hard time, such as divorce, and what I’ve learned in my own life is that it’s better to say something and acknowledge what’s going on in their life than to remain silent. So, if that’s the case, you may be thinking, what am I supposed to say to them? The best thing you can say to anyone is just let them know that you are there for them if they need anything. That gives your friend the ability to open up to you more about what happened and talk if they need to, and it also gives them the permission to never talk about it. It’s about supporting your friend where they are at that moment so that they know you’re there and respecting however they may feel about talking or not talking about their divorce (or any other difficult time in their life).

The thing to remember is even if your friend chooses not to talk to you about their marriage and their divorce and what happened, that doesn’t mean they’re not a good friend or won’t share other things with you. Often asking about what happened is more about you and wanting to know the details of what went on in their marriage and often to make sure that you don’t do whatever they did, so remember it’s not about you.  Please give them the space to make whatever decision feels right to them. And you will be ok not knowing what happened between your friend and their spouse.

Would you like more information about divorce mediation? Contact West Coast Family Mediation Center today to schedule your free virtual consultation at (858) 736-2411.

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