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Your Divorce and Other People: Answering Awkward Questions

Divorce is an intensely personal event. In a perfect world, you could choose how much of the ordeal you share with other people and how much you want to keep to yourself. Unfortunately, other people will find out details about your divorce, no matter how private you are. As a result, you will deal with invasive, prodding questions that you might rather not answer. But how can you handle these questions without them adding to your stress?

Here are a list of questions you might get asked while you go through divorce, along with suggestions on how to answer them. This list can also be helpful to friends, co-workers and relatives to know what NOT to say!

“What happened?”

Many divorced people will hear this question first above all others. It’s natural for people to be curious, but you might not want to share all the details of what you’re experiencing. Keep it simple. Give only the minimum of what you are willing to share. This will send a signal that you are (politely) declining to talk in depth about your experience.

“Have you gone to counseling?”

Chances are, you may have already been to counseling before you and your partner came to the difficult decision of divorcing. And you might feel frustrated at other people assuming you two haven’t tried to work things out. Let the other person know that you’ve tried, but unfortunately you both realized that it’s time to move on separately.

“Who’s moving out/How will you manage financially?”

Depending on where you are in your journey through divorce, you might have every legal and financial issue settled, or you might be wondering where to begin. No matter which stage you’re in, you can be honest and say “I would prefer not to talk about that. We’re in the process of working everything out at this time.” Try to stay positive when you answer, to show that you’re not going to dwell on negativity.

“Why can’t you work it out?”

Other people, might not stop to think about what’s happening to you and instead let you know how sad your divorce makes THEM feel. Some people may even say to you that they think you two should rethink your divorce. (Never mind how much thinking you did to pursue divorce in the first place!) Explain that the best thing they can do is to give you full support. Even if they completely disagree with your decision, it’s your life, not theirs. Be sure to let them know that they don’t have to understand; they just have to be there for you.

“I’ve been divorced too. Do you want to know how to handle it?”

Some advice is helpful, but truthfully, every divorce is unique. Let people know that that worked for someone else may not work for you. You can choose whether you want to hear these people’s stories, or you can outlaw all opinions unless you asked for them. Remember, you are in control.

“How are you?”

A lot of well-meaning people ask this question. But when you go through a divorce, your answer can change by the hour. Once again, you choose how much or how little to share. If you don’t want to talk about things, prepare a stock answer. Say something like “Things are challenging sometimes, but every day I’m getting better and better. Thank you for asking.” Then turn the question back and ask “How are you?” This will send the message that you’re unwilling to speak about anything just yet. Ultimately, you will get better at handling any questions about divorce that come your way, and become more resilient in the process.


For more information on this topic, please check our blogs on the Alpha Resource Center website:
Using an “I” Message Can Flip a Difficult Conversation to a Positive One
Theres More Than One Right Way to Effective Communications


For further resources, go check out these links:
The best Answers to Nosy Divorce Questions
9 Infuriating Questions People Will Ask You After You Get a Divorce
5 Things Not to Say to a Friend Getting Divorced
How to Answer Annoying Divorce Questions

©2019 Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation

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