A list of the most common questions I face when I tell someone about my divorce. (Can I go ahead and state that I HATE the “D-word”?)
Yes, all of these have been asked.
Most of them by acquaintances I knew in passing.
No, most of them should NOT be asked.
Uh. We are getting divorced?
Did that not answer your question?
I hate this question. It’s so personal. A marriage doesn’t end over one event, you know? Well, usually it doesn’t. Mine didn’t. It was a tangled, complicated mess that took all my time and energy for months to even begin to work through.
And you, borderline stranger, want to know what happened? You want me to sum it all up into a sentence? No. Just. No.
Are you okay?
Some days it hurts like hell and I mourn with passion. Some days I dance in the backyard with my son and sing off-key at the top of my lungs, celebrating freedom and new life.
That’s not what you want to hear though, is it?
Yeah, I’m okay.
This is like asking when a person falls in love. Or out of love. It happened over months and months.
Do I give the date it was first seriously considered? The date that I asked him to move out? The date he told me he no longer wanted to work on it? The date I filed? The date the judge signed the papers? There’s not a single day it all unraveled. It’s not like a marriage anniversary, a date that you can recall at-will (usually). Or a first date or the first time you say “I love you.” It’s a process and sometimes I can’t pinpoint the specific dates.
Did he cheat? Was he abusive? Was it drugs? Was it the Mormon thing?
Can we only ask appropriate questions? “Divorced” does not mean “zoo exhibit.”
I believe that any problems in a marriage can be worked through. Did you try to work through it?
Cool, thanks for the support.
Can we go ahead and agree that one doesn’t have to justify their divorce? Sometimes people demand I give them a reason. Trust me, I have my reasons, and I don’t owe it to people to explain those reasons.
Are you keeping his name?
I am keeping my name. He happens to have the same last name. I will not go back to my maiden name, a name I have not identified with in years, a name I last held at the age of 19 just because of how I happened to get my current name.
I like my name.
My son has that name.
And, honestly, I really don’t want to go through the hassle of changing all my damn legal paperwork again and retraining everyone (including my students) on what to call me. That seems like a giant hassle and I already have one of those in the form of a two-year-old.
What about your son?
Um. What about him?
He’s absolutely wonderful and we are both insanely grateful he is in our lives.
Who has custody?
People who ask that don’t have a clue how custody works. We both have custody. Legally we both have the right to make choices for our kid.
What people think they are asking when they ask about custody is about parenting time and visitation.
And unless you’re a close friend, I’m not interested in discussing the details of that arrangement. Suffice it to say that we see our son at levels that are agreeable to us both.
My parents are divorced and I hated it.
Cool story, bro.
Was the legal stuff bad?
I mean, legal stuff is never good? Talking to a lawyer was a damn hard choice. And we both had moments in that process that we are not proud of. But overall we did an excellent job filtering through our own emotional bullshit in order to take care of our son.
Do you hate him?
What kind of asshole question is this? No. I will never hate him. For many reasons, not the least of which being that darling boy, who deserves his parents to get along.
Are you dating?
Is he dating?
Where is he living?
Somewhere else. Not with me.
… What, do you want an address?
What does your family think?
That they love me and want me to be happy, whatever that looks like.
Do divorced people’s families NOT support them? Like, is that a thing?
I was supported.
What does his family think?
That they love us and want us to be happy, whatever that looks like.
I am extraordinarily blessed to have a great relationship with his family.
Did you pray about it?
How did you cope?
Mostly well, with a touch of stupid sometimes.
I have a damn good tribe of humans who helped me out in every moment that I desperately needed it. I am so grateful to them.
Do you need anything?
Do you actually mean this question or are you just trying to do “the right thing”? I could use a baby sitter sometimes. Otherwise, thanks for your pseudo-show of support.
FOR FUTURE REFERENCE: Here are the BEST questions to ask someone going through a divorce:
- Do you want to go out this weekend?
- Do you want to vent about it?
- Are you taking care of yourself?
- Can I babysit?
- Do you want me to punch him?**
**(Don’t actually do this.) ((Yes, people asked this and yes, I though it was hilarious.))