A while back, I attended a “Divorced Members Only” party. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a DMO party, but the invite came from a charming friend of a friend and I was thrilled to be included.
I entered the hip and modern backyard where I was greeted by the lovely hostess who is happily married to the lovely host who had each gone through a divorce prior to meeting, They guided me to the bar where I was handed the signature drink aptly named the 50/50 split and I made my way into the crowd.
Despite my vision of walking in to see 50 women feverishly nodding and smiling to compete for the attention of 5 single men, my 50/50 split and I walked into a welcoming, judgment-free zone to discuss the battle scars and silver linings of divorce. I met beautiful, successful women and men who asked the usual questions divorced people ask when we meet each other.
“Who is your attorney”?
“What is your custody schedule”?
“Do you get along with your ex”?
Did he (or she) cheat”?
From my more lengthy conversations that evening the subject of married friends came up repeatedly from this divorced contingent – both the ones who abandoned them and the ones who stuck by them. Many spoke of the anguish caused by the first group, and the sometimes lack of understanding from the latter.
We discussed many other fabulous non-divorce topics as well, but I left with an overwhelming sense of comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who pondered and struggled with one of the fallouts of divorce that causes more pain and confusion than expected.
So I did a little online research to get more perspective. I didn’t gain much, but I did find a few of the theories entertaining.
After reading self-help articles, and perusing group chats there were three scenarios that kept popping up about the “deserters”.
Why Do Friends Abandon Us During Divorce?
They side with your ex.
They may have a business relationship, or a longer history, or they just like him better. OK. Fine, I suppose he is allowed to have friends too.
They are worried divorce may be transmittable.
The thought here is that friends with marriages on shaky ground are afraid that socializing with divorced women may be infectious and lead their marriage down the same path. There are many great things about being divorced but I doubt 4 out of 5 divorcees recommend it, nor should we be considered contagious for going through one of the most stressful and depilating life events.
They feel threatened.
As in, threatened that their divorced friends are now eligible and may take their husbands!? I hardly ever use’ LOL’, but it applies so well. Do these same friends remember all the stories they shared about said husbands when we were friends? Drunken behavior, idiosyncrasies, intimate details? I may have been friendly with their husbands for many years, enjoyed family dinners and vacations, but wanted them for myself? Thank you, but no. I jest a bit here because I have friends with some pretty fantastic husbands. I root for their marriages. They are setting great examples for their kids, and mine too.
If you haven’t been divorcing or divorced long enough to know this yet, I can promise you that the “deserters” aren’t the married friends you need. The married friends you need are still HERE – in your ‘Favorites’ list on your iPhone, and on the emergency contact forms for your kids. And in a society where married people are considered “the norm” and divorced people are not, they have kept you in their ‘Favorites’ list as well.
The best news I can share with you after being 5 years divorced is that you will stop caring about the friends who deserted you in your greatest time of need. You will stop wondering why you didn’t get an invite to their Christmas party, or their 40th, or their kids’ birthdays. You will eventually get to a point where you run into them on the street, or are seated right next to them at a restaurant, have a brief, friendly exchange and then barely give it another thought.
Now as we love our married friends who have remained in our lives, things can get a little tense at times. DMOs have been married. We understand the constant state of acquiescence and negotiation in which married people live. We can remember that the way a spouse chews a meal or leaves dental floss on the counter can ruin an otherwise perfectly good day. If not from divorced parents what do our married friends know about being divorced?
Have the DMOs taken the time to look up from sobbing about their trip to family court, or a rant about their ex to explain how everything actually feels? I have not. I have been a bit selfish in expecting them to instinctively understand why I get so prickly about staying home with my boys in lieu of attending a GNO because I only see them 50% of the time. Or how sending them to another home can feel like losing a limb.
Or the isolation we feel when friends are out for a couple’s dinner and we are forgotten. It stings. And it stinks, but have we eloquently communicated that? Have we gracefully told them that we are ok with being the 3rd or 5th or 7th wheel?
It could relieve some tension to acknowledge these differences with the friends who have remained present. Reinforce that you love LOVE and that you want the best for their marriage. Embrace their spouses and their families. Bring your kids over to their homes so they can see married couples living in unison. Lean on them regardless of if they will understand your battles and let them lean on you as well – it will undoubtedly reinforce the fact that they made the right decision in keeping you on their “Favorites’ list.