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Unless you ARE a single mom, you can’t feel like one.

In the year 2000 I was happily married (for 13 years, together for 20) to my college sweetheart, with a lovely home and two young children.

Then one day I began the process of discovering my husband’s long-standing affair—with someone I knew very well. Within 9 months my marriage was over.

And though I met and married a wonderful man— and have been married for over 10 years—the hurt and pain of that time is still there. Still palpable.

I was (and still am) very lucky to have an incredible network of friends and family—without whom I would have never come out the other side as successfully as I did. Yet even among my closest friends, I would experience “well-meaning” advice, words and comments that really stung. Things that I myself might have said prior to my divorce, having no idea how powerful those seemingly innocent words could be:

  1. “It’s too bad you have children—you’ll always be connected because of them.”

This was very painful to hear. My kids were often the singular reason that I got out of bed many mornings following my divorce. There were so many times that I would wake up not knowing how I was going to face the day. But then I’d remember my children—and the responsibility I had to them—and I did what I needed to do. Having them around me made me feel happy, loved, not alone. I can’t imagine my life without them.

  1. (When a spouse is out of town) “I feel like SUCH a single mom this week.”

No you don’t. Yes, you may not have extra hands at breakfast or bath time, but this is NOT the same as being a single mom. The fears, anger, hurt and complications that accompany divorce are there 24/7, as opposed to the temporary “single” status that occurs when a spouse is away. Do NOT say this, ever.

  1. “I kind of envy your ‘alone’ time.”

Another well-meaning comment that ultimately stings. Mainly because even in moments when I was enjoying my “alone” time, the reason for it would quickly overwhelm. I was alone not by choice, and as the result of a devastating event.

  1. “You’ll never be truly happy until you forgive.”

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this. My husband had an extra-marital affair that ruined me emotionally, physically and spiritually. I will never forgive him—ever. And yet I can say, with complete conviction, that I am happy. Happily married. Happily employed. Happily engaged with life.

  1. “I saw it coming.”

Even if you did, don’t say it. No matter the cause, divorce almost always feels—on some level—like failure. A comment like this just pours salt on the wound.

  1. “It’s ultimately for the best.”

It’s natural to want to offer hope in this situation. And I was lucky that in my case it really did work out for the best. But in the beginning I was terrified—for my financial future, and that I’d never meet anyone else. A comment like this diminishes that fear, and rings hollow.

  1. “I’d never survive if it happened to me.”

This is like the opposite of the above comment—implying that divorce is something that would decimate the average person. I only wanted to feel “typical”—not some freak or outsider because of my new status.

  1. “You’re so brave.”

Another seemingly innocuous comment—well-meaning, and yet I can’t think of a single time I heard this that it didn’t ultimately feel like pity.

  1. “I would never put up with (insert spouse’s awful behavior here).”

I hung in for months after discovering my husband’s affair—and no one was more surprised than I was. I knew there’d be no turning back once I ended my marriage, and I needed to be absolutely ready and sure before I did. I learned that you don’t REALLY know how much you’re willing to tolerate—until you’re there yourself.


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