Divorce is quite a ride. It can take you and everyone in your life way off course if you let it. One of the easiest ways this can happen is when others try to control decisions regarding your divorce because it impacts their life. In order to minimalize the damage and destruction to your life, you’ll need to take back control and demonstrate your ability to manage your life, family and divorce independent of their opinions. 

Who thinks they have a say in your decisions?


You may have family members affected by the emotions & changes brought on by your divorce.  While they’re on the long journey with you, their experience and expectations will be quite different than your own. They may even have different goals. Consider their feelings and opinions, but generally, you should demonstrate steadfast decision-making to gain their confidence in your ability to lead your family towards the best possible outcome.  


Mutual friends care for you and your ex.  They want to see your difficult situation resolved. They may find it hard to adjust to each of you as single and may struggle to support both sides when each spouse naturally seeks support for his/her position.

You are responsible for your own happiness and pay for mistakes that happen as a result of your decisions. You should be the one making them.

Let your friends know you appreciate their support. The less you vent about your divorce and imply or ask they take sides, their part in your decision making and offering of unwanted advice will be reduced.

Extended Family 

Your parents and siblings along with other distant family members may not be happy with how divorce is affecting you and your immediate family.  They may feel you or your former spouse brought this pain on yourselves.  They may have many opinions that may or may not be helpful in getting through all of the stages of divorce.

"It's not our momma's broken heart", or dads, sibling or great aunt from Timbuktu.

Somehow, the gravity of a broken heart fails to make sense to the wild spirited, fun loving family member who went through divorce so many times, she just offers you a martini and aspirin with her divorce attorney's phone number.  Perhaps you have a rational minded sibling with a great marriage who thinks you should just concede and beg your spouse to come back.

It’s important to be steadfast in your own decisions.  Let them know what you need is their love and support.  If you need advice or counsel you will let them know or will seek the help of a professional. 

Different generations have different opinions about divorce.  Based on family member's life circumstances, marital status, divorce history, financial maturity and relationship experience they may very well be the best or worst of whom to seek advice. 

Be cautious and as always, consider your source!  If you take their advice and it's wrong, you will ultimately be the person who accepts responsibility for the result and they rarely apologize for their part in the decision-gone-bad.  While your decisions may have some affect on family, know that it's your life, family and divorce - your decisions - your responsibility and should make decisions accordingly.

 More coping tips for dealing with opinions from kids and friends


Your children should have a voice regarding the effect your break-up is having on them.  But, ultimately you are the one in charge.  Make compassionate decisions that you know are in their best interest.  It may not be exactly what they want, but you will need to be strong and confident in this time of change.   Be observant of their feelings and responsive with modifications, as needed. 

Children tend to adapt better to changes than adults, but the break-up of their parents can be shattering.  If your child fails to cope with the changes, you may need to consider family counseling or individual counseling to allow your child the opportunity to discuss his/her feelings with a professional.  A family counselor can guide you and your family out of the emotional aftermath of the divorce.

Individual Friends

While you may ask others for an opinion, refrain from taking advice that goes against your better judgement.  This weakens your self-esteem and compromises your decision making skills needed for you and your family.  The more decisions you make independently, the more empowered you’ll feel to do so.  

It's okay to vent, but don't expect your friends to always empathize with you and your decisions.   Allow them to give you an opinion, don't necessarily change your course of action, just keep an open mind.

Conversely, if a licensed professional makes suggestions that initially seem out of line with your typical course of action, give it real consideration.  The same holds true for numerous friends making the same suggestion.  Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the best course of action when it goes against what we have always done or felt comfortable doing.  Again, you don't need to change your mind or decision, but consider reasonable advice from appropriate sources.

Individual friends will likely be very supportive.  If they don't have experience with divorce, they may not understand how emotionally fatiguing the process is in comparison to a simple break-up.  They may immediately want to support you with advice, when all you need is that martini and a good divorce attorney. 

Remember, when you go through a major life change like divorce, your at a heightened sense of anxiety and uncommon ground.  You may not immediately recognize how it has affected you, your decisions, family or behavior.  You may think you are acting totally appropriate and normal, but actually to others you may be "not quite like yourself". 

While some of the anxiety about your situation may be also coming from them; most is based on your own coping skills.  You may not really know how well you're doing until years after the divorce is behind you.  This is one reason to consider group therapy.  Group therapy includes a group of peers (usually people who do not otherwise know each other) who are experiencing the same thing with you but at different stages of divorce.

Don't be afraid to tell your friends what you need and why.  If you just need someone to be there to let you vent once in awhile, say that.  But, be understanding that they don't always want their relationship with you to be about your ex or divorce.  Keep your venting short and enjoy time with each friend doing things that take your mind off your problems.

Give your friends time to adjust to the news of your divorce.  Mutual friends will be affected by the loss of you and your spouse, as a couple.  They will naturally want to support you, but will have conflictions about taking sides.  Try not to confide in a such a way that could compromise your legal case or friendship.   Also, remember that probing questions about your ex or requests to also keep your confidences can put your friends in an awkward situation.

It's best not to try reclaiming friends based on original friendships.   Regardless who was friends first, don't expect your friends to just give up their relationship with your spouse.



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