How to Broach the D-word

Dear 40-somethings,

I was married at 19 and divorced by 21 with no children. Although, I feel like divorce was the only option after discovering my husband’s painful affair yet I still can’t help being embarrassed. The few strangers I’ve had to tell have given me such judgmental looks and comments that it changes the way I feel about myself….as if I’ve done something wrong. As someone so young, I hope I can move on with my life and make new friends and possibly new relationships down the line.

My question is, how and when do I tell someone I’m divorced. I’m worried someone will not want to associate with me once they find out, but I do not want to lie. So what do I do?


Dear 20-something,

What you are experiencing is something almost any divorced woman can relate to. You have taken charge of your life and now you can be in control of when you tell people. The key is to not be so hard on yourself and know that you will be okay. People will want to associate with a woman who has been brave enough not only to make a big life decision and to learn from it.

Nora Ephron says she believes in the theory that “marriages come and go but divorce lasts forever” (which is the slogan of the Huff Post Divorce section to which she contributes).  She also says in her post,  “Divorce seems as if it will last ­forever, and then suddenly one day….you have no contact at all with your ex-husband…and it’s finally it’s over.”

I actually think it’s that divorce comes and go. It’s a much bigger deal to you than it is to others. That is not to say it’s not a very real and difficult “deal” for you to deal with. You made a commitment that you had every intention of following and the future as you knew it changed. It takes a mourning period to get over it but you will. In fact, it sounds as if you are well on the way to moving on.

There may be part of the judgment that is your head. Our dramas take up more space in our heads than in that of others. But still, you may run into some people who do judge…for whatever reason…but they are very likely not worth your energy. As to when to tell people, here is what the 40-somethings who have been through it have to say:

“You have done nothing wrong.  Divorce isn’t the “Scarlet Letter.”  It is no one’s business but your own on the details of the divorce. Get rid of any friends who look at you in a judgmental way!!

You are a very lucky girl that you departed the marriage at a young age because now you can open your heart to true love.  As far as timing on telling someone about your divorce:  you will know when it is right, trust me.  Once you find the right guy, the issue of divorce isn’t even an issue.  I was divorced at 32 and felt the same way, but each day it was easier telling people and now it doesn’t even phase me.  I am glad that I was married and divorced at a young age as it taught me what I don’t want in my next marriage.  – 40-something, Chicago


 “You don’t have to feel obligated to tell everyone in your life that you’re divorced. When I was going through my divorce (admittedly, much later in life than you, at 32), I felt as though I had to tell everyone within five minutes of meeting them.

Then one day, I found out that a family friend who I’d known for 15 years (now been married to the love of his life for over 20 years), had been divorced at a much younger age — and he’d never told me. I didn’t mind. I didn’t feel hurt. I suddenly realized that not everyone needed to know about my divorce, either. Of course I also wouldn’t hid it if asked directly, but most people, it turns out, don’t even really care!

The one case where I felt obligated to share was in dating. After a few dates, I felt it important to be honest and share that I’d been married before. Very few of the men cared, either. They just wanted to know what had gone wrong. I found far less judgment from others than from myself.” – 40-something, LA


“You don’t have to go around announcing that you’re divorced to everyone but you don’t have to lie about your divorce, your life, your experiences and who you are. You just need to accept yourself.” – 40-something, NY


“You were married in your teens, had no kids, and divorced two years later because your husband screwed you over. There is no reason for you to feel bad about that. That was the path your life took at the time and hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two and grown from the experience. Welcome to adulthood! If you feel the need to explain, try something like, “I got married young and he was unfaithful, so I left.” Or as someone I know once said … “I picked the wrong guy and gave him the wrong finger!” – reader submission


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