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How to Answer Annoying Questions About Divorce

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When news of your recent divorce hits the streets, people can get a tad bit nosy.  “What went wrong?  Who’s getting the kids?  Can I have the wedding present I gave you back?”  Retaining composure and diplomatically answering these questions can be a real challenge, if you don’t have the appropriate responses cocked and readied.  Read on to thoroughly equip yourself with seamless retorts that will keep the rabid Inquisitors (family, friends, intrusive grocery clerks and DMV workers) at bay, at least for a while.

“What happened?”

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When addressing this initial query, it’s best to keep it simple.  Providing the bare minimum, in terms of what transpired and why, is not just adequate, but will send the signal that this conversation is not going to turn into an episode of “Dr. Phil.”  Also, keep things in an affirmative light; let them know that you are not dwelling on the negative and that you are focused on shaping your future.

“I don’t think this is the right decision.  Why did you do this??”

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Explain that even if they completely disagree with what occurred and why, the best thing for them to do at this juncture is to give you their full support.  The aftermath of the divorce can be even harder to deal with than the event itself, and you truly can use all the positive reinforcement you can get.  Also, if kids are a part of the equation, explain that this can be a traumatic event for them especially.  Anyone involved, even minimally, in the lives of the children in question should be as supportive as humanly possible.

“You should try to get back together.”

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When this gratuitous “advice” is dumped on you, it’s best to clearly elucidate the fact that you recognize your ex-partner’s favorable attributes (you obviously loved them at one point), but now you need to transition out of marriage mode and progress forward with your life.  You’re not getting un-divorced any time soon, so let’s all look at what’s on the ever expansive horizon of life, not what’s fading into the sunset.

“Want to know what I think went wrong?”

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While your comrades, great aunts and assorted mechanics and baristas may all be brimming with theories as to what the real error in your compatibility was, graciously tell them that you appreciate their concern, but you really don’t want to drum all of that up right now.  Yes, there probably are myriad reasons why it didn’t work out in the end, but your goal now is to heal and move on.  Dredging up accusations of your ex’s potential extramarital affairs or secret hatred of your hat collection is not going to help you do that, so please keep your comments to yourself, Uncle Herbie, thank you.

“I’ve been divorced, too.  Here’s how you handle it…”

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Of course it can be nice to commiserate with people who have been in similarly trying situations, but take all such proffered wisdom with a grain of salt.  Let them know that every divorce is unique, like a lovely snowflake of separation, and what may have worked/failed for them may not apply to your uncoupling scenario at all.

At the end of the day, if and how you address questions related to your divorce is totally up to you.  You always have the option to tell people to “mind their beeswax,” and to give them ‘the hand.’ However, dealing with the residual effects of your divorce by confronting them head-on can lead to a quicker healing process.  When chatting with concerned parties, be nice, be polite, but ultimately, be true to yourself.

And yes, Aunt Trudy, you can have your ugly purple candy dish back.

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-Joe Leone