What NOT to Say to Someone Going Through a Divorce

Divorce is the death of a marriage. It is equally as hard, if not harder, than processing the death of a loved one, especially when children are involved, which then also includes the death of a family! Confidence Coach Laure Redmond joined us. She says , "When love dies and a family is severed through a divorce, here are the things you should never, ever say."

  1. "But you two always seemed so happy." This can feel like an accusation which puts someone on the defensive (never good). Even if a divorce surprises you, saying that it was you who didn't see it coming instead of implying that the divorcing couple has made a mistake is much kinder. When surprised, best reaction: "I'm so sorry! I had no idea."
  2. "I hope you have a good lawyer." For anyone outside the inner circle to suggest that the end of a marriage is a war, complete with sides, is just plain wrong. And it can also feel like a back-door way of asking for lurid details. If the divorcing person wants you to know about his or her legal situation, whether that's involving custody, alimony or child support, he or she will be the one to bring it up. There is no one-size-fits-all settlement for every divorce. A family is a complex and, sometimes, very fragile thing—never more so than when re-configuring itself into two new parts.
  3. "Did you try couples therapy." Asking a newly divorced person if she or he tried therapy, or a vacation without the kids, or regular date nights or any other way to forestall the divorce is not helpful! Divorce is a paralyzing experience, it is not where any married couple expects or hopes to land.
  4. "You need to get out there and start dating again." The healthiest thing a newly divorced person can do is take time to work on what their role was in the demise of the marriage while also focusing on regaining the ability to trust another person. Nothing is more important then the company and support of real friends and family, not potential suitors.
  5. "I never thought he or she was right for you." Most people going through a divorce are struggling with a lot of embarrassment and shame, it doesn’t help when someone makes you feel like they could have told you this would happen! Much better is to convey the message that "I really do trust that you've thought this through and know what you're doing”.
  6. "I wonder if you could give me some advice, because my marriage isn't going so great these days." No one else can know whether or not someone else's marriage should end. And no divorce is good news. Sometimes it's an improvement over the married life, but it's inevitably a gut wrenching sadness, life changing decision that is unique for each couple and family.
  7. "Everything will be alright." No one has a way to know if everything will be alright, and someone going through a divorce certainly doesn’t want to hear that from someone who simply doesn't know. For some people going through divorce, things couldn't be worse. A better thing to say would be, "I haven't been through this journey myself, and I'm sure it's going to be difficult. But please know that I'm here for you in any way I can help, and you can always feel free to lean on me."

Laure's wisdom is featured in the new book, Words that Matter: A Little Book of Life Lessons, from The Oprah Magazine. For more helpful information, visit Laure's blog.

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