When you get divorced, you lose so much more than your spouse. Of course, many people would love to conveniently “misplace” their spouse & there were several times when I thought about leaving mine on the church steps like a box of kittens, with a “Free to Good Home” sign around his neck. But that wasn’t an option & not just because he’s Jewish. The thing we don’t always think about is how our friendships will change when we are going through a divorce.
When my marriage was breaking down, I reached out to my friends to support me, to love me & help me get to the other side. One of the things that has made me the Divorce Doula for so many friends is that I give my support unconditionally & without judgement. I can count on one hand the friends who did that for me.
It will take two hands & both feet to count the number of friends that I lost.
Friendships are tenuous & protean (not protein, because eating your friends is just awkward) and sides are chosen early. A friend may try to be unbiased & maintain a relationship with both parties, but after a while it just becomes too much work. I had one friend who would lie to her husband when she met me for coffee. I hated putting her in that position & wore her guilt like an albatross around my neck every time we met.
Being together for 15 years, my ex & I had formed very deep friendships with other couples & families. Our children were best friends, our families vacationed together, we celebrated milestones & mourned losses together. But when one intrinsic part of the group fails, the whole existential house of cards falls down. People question their own marriages, delve into their own dissatisfaction, wonder if their own marriages are vulnerable.
Our divorce became a catalyst for other couples. Not just to end their marriages (although some did) but to strengthen their relationships. I wish those friends continued love & happiness. Of equal importance are the friendships that were deepened, the relationships that were formed during my separation & after my divorce. My village of single moms has helped me raise my boys, and in a way, raise myself.
Not all friendships will survive a divorce; I’ve accepted that although I miss those friends dearly. Our lives have segregated & common ground has become thin. We may cross paths a few times a year & promise to get together soon. But those promises are empty, made without meeting one another’s eyes. Some friends needed time and space, but they have come back.
A lot of friends have been able to look at us as individuals who are committed to our children and to moving on with our lives, not just a couple that failed. Those are the friendships I will work to maintain, to nurture & be grateful for every day. You know who you are. Thank you for being a friend.