Friendless Divorce

23 Sep

Dear LetterBalm: I was married to a man who, by all outward appearances, was charming and good-natured. But at home he was domineering and verbally abusive to me and our two kids. I was always afraid that he’d haul off and hit them and me. So, I had to protect all of us from him. After years of struggle, I divorced him and started a new life with my children. But because I kept the details of all this from most of our friends, many of them turned their back on me. They think he’s the wronged party because I was the one who moved for divorce. They blame me for the failure of my marriage. My ex-husband continues to be well-regarded and close to these friends. I’d like to set them straight. What can I say?

–Truth Teller

Because verbal cruelty leaves no visible scars, it’s easy to dismiss its pernicious impact. You and your children suffered mightily at the hands of your ex-husband, and there’s no right way to inform your ex-friends of that fact. If your ex is as charming as you say, he’s probably bamboozled them into believing he was married to a selfish shrew. They simply won’t accept as true that you’re the wronged party. Sometimes there’s no justice in life, and one has to be satisfied merely to hold the high moral ground. Ms. L.B. hopes you are establishing new friendships and cherishing those chums who always believed in you. But if you do run into any ex-friends (don’t initiate contact on your own) and have a quiet moment with them, you might have a simple, non-judgmental statement ready:

Friend, it’s so good to see you. I’ve missed you and hope you’re doing well. Things have been rocky for me and the kids, but we’re doing O.K. now. It’s been a struggle that I’m glad we went through because we’re happier than we’ve been in a long time. Sometimes you have to make a difficult decision for reasons that aren’t apparent to others, and it turns out to be the best one.

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