Facing Questions From Family After a Divorce

  • Family members outside of the immediate dynamic can have a lot of questions after a divorce.
  • Depending on personalities and relationships, family members can be either supportive or judgemental.
  • Do not shut out family after a divorce.

"As difficult as it may be to let your family be there for you, you should let them, if their intentions are pure. Having that support around you can help you during this challenging time in your life."

For those in an unhappy or dysfunctional relationship and have to live in that world on a day to day basis, divorce can feel like the breath of fresh air after spending time underwater. Because of how much time and stress the marriage put on you, you suddenly have the realization that you have a chance to move forward in your life.

At some point, you run into the realization that those that care about you that do not interact with you on a daily basis need to be informed on all that transpired in your unhappy or dysfunctional marriage. They need to know that you’re divorcing your spouse, and that type of information comes with many questions, especially if they are family.

The questions find themselves getting harder and greater in number, if you have children with the individual you are divorcing. This is often due to older generations and their views on marriage and divorce.

Different strokes, different folks

Depending on the views on marriage and whether religion plays a factor in forming their perspective, family members can have a variety of reactions to the news. Some may begin approach the situation with sensitivity, asking how you are feeling and how you are coping with the loss. In an attempt to connect with you, they also are looking to navigate the emotional landscape of what you are going through. If there are specific topics that lend themselves more to discussing your soon-to-be ex-spouse or your ex-spouse, they may look to avoid them, for fear of inciting an emotional outburst on your part.

Others may look at the situation looking to blame you for inciting the breakup. They may cite the vows and how they are intended to be for life. They may look into the breakup beyond you and ask your ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse what you did wrong that could have led to a divorce. Accusations of infidelity or abuse could go flying everywhere, creating chaos in familial social circles.

Familial influence on health

The line between fact and rumor in familial social circles can often be a thin one. How we interact with the members of our family can have consequences, both good and bad. The Edelman Health Barometer 2011 global survey, published in PsychCentral and The Huffington Post, found that interactions with one’s family has an effect on one’s health behaviors.

The survey found that 46 percent say that family and friends impact their lifestyle as it relates to health and that 36 percent distance themselves from friends who engage in unhealthy behaviors.

For family members, they may view any behavior they disapprove of as “unhealthy.” Regardless of your perception of their opinion, they may be active in creating a toxic atmosphere whenever you are around them, simply due to the fact that you pursued a divorce, in an effort to exit a dysfunctional or unhappy relationship. It may cause them to remove themselves from holidays or family functions that they know you are at, or they may ask to have you no longer invited to specific events, because of the discomfort that you bring them.

For other members of the family, this type of exchange could leave them in an awkward and precarious position. They do not want to make you feel uncomfortable and want to support you through the difficulties of the divorce experience. However, they also do not wish to alienate family members that may blame you for the divorce or ones that judge you for it. They often find themselves forced to gravitate to one side or another, even if they have the best intentions.

For those naturally curious, you may find yourself answering questions about the end of the marriage years after the divorce decree is finalized. They may want to know financial specifics to gauge whether or not they should attempt to help you in some way. They may want to know how much you’re being asked to pay in child support or how the visitation schedule is set up. Either way, natural curiosity can find itself trumping holding one’s tongue, out of politeness.

Don’t shut them out

The urge to seek refuge in shutting out your family, in an effort to avoid the questions, will be there, but it is not necessarily something that you should consider. Despite their curiosity for more information regarding the end of your marriage, it often comes from a place of love. They care about you and your wellbeing and want to do the best job that they can in being for you when you need it.

As difficult as it may be to let your family be there for you, you should let them, if their intentions are pure. Having that support around you can help you during this challenging time in your life.

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