Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Where did all the friends go?

When one's marriage ends, friendships often end also.  People that used to invite me to their homes regularly with my wife and children now don't even answer my e-mails. 

Throughout the process of my divorce, one message was incessantly emphasized.  Every action was done under the guise of doing "what is best for the children".

Presumably what happens in civil actions represents the beliefs of our society.  In other words, our society wants the most important outcome of divorce to be what is best for the children.

This society is made up of the same people who no longer answer my emails or invite me to their homes.  It is also made up of my children.  My children constantly want reminders that there is still a family that consists of a mommy, a daddy, and the children, even though they know that we live in two homes. 

As I have read books about divorce and parenting, the one most important message is to not be negative about the other parent in front of the children, and if possible, be positive about the other parent, no matter how much you resent that person. 

For my children this can be very simple.  Once I slipped after my daughter said that she loved mommy.  I absent-mindedly said "I love mommy too".  This brought her so much joy that I didn't even mind that it wasn't true. 

Another example is my daughter's desire to have "group hugs". in which my ex-wife, me, and my children all hug together as we once did when we were a single family.  Although I have no desire to hug my wife, this is a small price to pay to bring comfort and happiness to children whose worlds have been turned upside down.  I don't believe this is lying to them.  I think it is doing something kind for them.  They still know that my ex-wife and I maintain two separate homes and seldom interact.

It occurred to me that the same society that wants to do what is best for the children could walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.  Divorce is like death or cancer.  When either one occurs, people tend to stay away as if they could catch it. 

My suggestion is that people reach out in these situations where others most need their friendship.  Those barbecues that you used to invite us to?  Why not still invite us and let us decide whether we are comfortable coming?  Certainly our children would delight at the opportunity to be at a barbecue where both parents  are present as well as all the children of the other couples we used to socialize with.

It is rare that there is a villain in a divorce.  Although each party probably has issues with the other, one person may choose to vilify the other partner and be vocal about it.  Seldom is this the whole story.  Let's really do what's best for the children and continue to include them in our lives.  It's easy to write people off, but it takes a caring person to take a chance and do what's more difficult and more right.


  1. My best friends are splitting up and I am devastated. The reasons are myriad and justified, with the husband's irresponsible behavior as the driver.

    But even though he screwed up, I still love him. Nothing can change the years of pleasure we all got from our friendship and the endless laughter we shared.

    It remains to be seen how I will handle future social events. But the idea of never seeing him again breaks my heart.

    Thanks for a thought provoking perspective.

  2. I'm sorry you have to deal with that. Although I talked about how it "should" be in my post, ultimately it seldom turns out that way. I guess the first sentence says it all: "When marriages end, friendships end". It's sad, and I wish you luck in preserving both friendships. I hope you can keep them both.

  3. Thank you for these really thoughtful posts. You seem like you're really trying, both to hold yourself together and move forward, as well as to continue giving your children the best possible childhood and family life you can manage at this point. As a child of divorce, I can only applaud your efforts.
    Stay strong,

  4. Hi Grace,
    Thanks for reading my posts. It's nice to know there are a few people out there!
    You're right, it's been a struggle and I'm sure there are many who have been through similar situations. I hope my writing might be helpful to someone. It certainly helps me.
    I've not posted in a while but I feel a surge of creativity coming and I expect to start posting again, hopefully leaning more towards fiction in the future, which I do better.
    I know that divorce is very hard on children, pretty much regardless of the age they are at the time. I'm sorry you had to go through it. Thanks again for your kind remarks. You're right. I do my best to do the best for my kids, putting my needs second.