I was in a committed relationship for ten years. For many reasons we mutually agreed to separate. My problem is that because we weren’t married my friends are a bit dismissive. I feel that some of them think it was a lesser relationship than a marriage. We both didn’t believe a ceremony would make anything different and opted not to get married. But everything else was the same. How can I help my friends understand I am feeling the same way anyone would feel after a divorce?
No matter how much society progresses we still have strong perceptions about institutions and marriage is one of them. That does not make your friend’s reactions right but there is a reason behind their feeling about the situation.
The end of any committed relationship is an extremely difficult time.
Anger, worry and fear are all emotions that you deal with on a daily basis. There are many decisions to be made and many unknowns in your future. You want and need the support of your friends to help you through this time.
However, there’s an anger towards those friends who you think do not understand and also anger over your personal loss. That loss of personal control in both situations is a negative force in your life right now.
Your own well being should be the primary focus. Looking after your physical and emotional health is absolutely necessary. There are new challenges as your single life takes shape. You have many decisions to make and you will want to make the right ones.
The main priority is adjusting to the new circumstances of your life. That takes time. Our whole life and day to day patterns change when a relationship ends. Take care to sort out how this new stage in your life will evolve.
As for your friends, statements like “You don’t understand’ are judgemental and lack explanation or information. Best to try to educate your friends about what a committed relationship outside of marriage is like. A simple ‘this is marriage ‘ and ‘this was us’ outline of life will help them discover that there really was no difference. Be patient with those friends who you feel may not fully understand the seriousness of your situation. If they are good friends, there was most likely no malice in their judgements.
Remember that in those first few months after separation our perceptions are skewed. It may seem like friends are less than supportive but a PTRD sets in –a type of Post Traumatic Relationship Disorder.
Grief is the main reason for many of those extreme emotions and judgments we feel after the demise of a relationship. Commit to working through the stages of grief. One day in your future you will reach an acceptance for what has happened.
It may take time for some of your friends to truly understand how you are feeling. Many conversations may be necessary. Those conversations are all part of the healing process.
As we talk about our former life, we give our past shape and substance. It will also help you come to terms with the end of your relationship and focus on the future you want. Good Luck!
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.