Dealing with family and friends after divorce

They don't understand. I'm done with this marriage. What can I say to get them to stop trying to get us back together?

After 37 years of marriage, I’m leaving my husband.

He’s been a good provider. We’ve never worried about money, but emotionally, I get no support from him.

In our years together, we’ve gone through some rough times. In those times, it’s always been me helping him get through. I’ve sat up many a night with him talking about one situation or another. Never once did he ask how I was doing. It’s like that song about someone taking, taking, taking, and never giving.

I had a really nasty flu recently, and it really put things into perspective for me. I could barely hold my head up, and he wondered where his supper was.

The flu went on and on. I was scared that I might have cancer or something, and when I said this to him he told me not to be so silly. I didn’t feel well enough to drive to my medical appointments, and he made no effort to help — told me to call a friend.

So this is it. I don’t want any advice about couples counselling. I have had it.

What I do want, is some help with what to say to family and friends when they try to convince me that I’m doing the wrong thing. They don’t understand. I’m done with this marriage. What can I say to get them to stop trying to get us back together?

Well, there really is no point at all to try to get a couple back together if one of the two has decided that they are finished.

And it sounds like you are finished. So how to make that clear? How to get others to stop trying to get you to change your mind?

It can be understandable for friends and family to find your determined stance uncomfortable. It changes things for them.

You got to be in charge of making that change. They did not.

They need to adjust to something that is out of their control. Even if they really support why you are leaving, they still need to adjust.  As people, we tend to resist change.

Because of this, it can be helpful to have some very clear statements you can say to them, that also acknowledge their discomfort. Doing that can smooth the way to their accepting what you are saying.

Look at developing some “set” responses for when the topic comes up.  Here are a few to try out:

“I know that you don’t understand. You may never understand. (acknowledge their discomfort), but I am as certain about this as I can be.” (your truth)

“I appreciate that this is hard (acknowledge their discomfort), but I know I’m making the right decision for me. I’m not changing my mind”. (your truth)

“This probably makes no sense to you (acknowledge their discomfort). It makes sense to me, though, and it’s me who has to live my life. (your truth)

Acknowledge the discomfort, but stick to your truth. Others may never understand.

If people persist, add a third line to your response that closes off that topic.

A few examples:

“I’m not looking back.”

“Please, let’s talk about something else.”

“If you want to support me, help me with (whatever practical thing you need help with).”

“Trying to get me to convince me to go back is not helpful.”

“Do you really want me to live my life unhappy?”

“I’m not talking about that any more.”

“STOP, I’m not talking about that any more.”

“I don’t think that you are hearing me. I’m done talking about this.”

Rather than getting into the discussion, repeat your statements.

The goal is to be clear and firm, standing with your truth, but kind.

If you wish to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at info@pacifictherapy.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by registered clinical counsellors Nancy Bock, Diane Davies Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Sara Lynn Kang at pacific therapy & consulting inc. It appears every second Thursday in the Record.

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