As if ending your marriage weren’t enough of a hurdle, confronting a disapproving family can feel like the final straw. While you’re coming to terms with your new day-to-day life, your family’s comments and head-shaking only add stress to an already trying situation.
If you find yourself in the midst of loved ones who are critical of your decisions, there are steps you can take to both change their tune and get the support that you need. Here’s how.
Clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett explains that while family members are often well-meaning, their input can come off harsh and judgmental.
“Tell those family members and friends that you know they love you, and they’re trying to help you, but their approach feels critical and that it makes it harder for you, not easier,” she says. Instead of becoming defensive, try to give them practical examples of how they can support you, such as simply asking how you’re doing or inviting you to a movie.
“If their intentions are truly good, they’ll step up.” But if they don’t step up, Bennett explains, “Let them know that if things don’t change with their criticism, that you’ll need to pull away so that you can heal from the divorce.”
Know that at the end of the day, some family members and friends may never understand your choices and will even feel justified in their actions. That’s when it’s up to you how much you want to allow them into your life.
Divorce Coach Deborah Moskovitch recommends your overall message being something similar to: “I know you are concerned and that you might not approve, but I am doing what I need to do and I’m putting my children’s best interests first.”
Having a strong network to lean on is crucial when you find that your family has reservations surrounding your divorce. Finding a sounding board that you can trust, whether a trusted friend or a weekly meeting with a small group, can make all the difference.
Bennett echoes this idea, noting that if your family persists in their negativity, “you need to look to other sources to get the support you need. Therapy, a support group, non-judgemental friends and so on. Remember that you decided to end the marriage for sound reasons.”
Your friendships with other couples may change along with your relationships status, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain those friendships. Moskovitch says that she maintained all of her friendships after her own divorce, but that many have become one-on-one meet ups rather than couple-centric hangouts.
Taking your friend to lunch or to see a concert are examples of proactive ways to maintain those friendships without anyone in a position of having to choose sides.
When it comes to the murky waters of your divorce, you don’t have to handle everything on your own. Instead, contact the experienced divorce lawyers at Babbitt & Dahlberg. We’ll use our combined 50 years of experience to provide you with sound advice and supportive counsel.
Give us a call at 614-228-4200, or contact us via our online form to schedule a consultation today.