Now that I have turned a new page in my life, it seems that a surprising amount of people I know are on the brink of turning their own pages. I get messages every few days asking for advice on the topic of divorce, and my answer is always the same: I can’t give you advice. I can give you a bottle of wine but definitely not advice. Here is why:
1. You may think you want advice, but trust me, you do not. I had advice given to me at every turn throughout my divorce. Everyone had a story, a warning and a to-do list for me. I listened as people peppered me with unfiltered advice, because they absolutely knew what I needed to do. The things they told me were unsettling, irrelevant and largely unhelpful. There is so much power in being thoughtful and working through it yourself. Doing the research and exploring your options is a really effective way to take back some control when your world feels completely unsteady.
2. You might not really want a divorce. It is easy to get wrapped up in emotions when making decisions about your life, especially when emotions are running high. I am far enough removed from my situation that I can speak about it easily as if it really wasn’t that big of a deal at all. It is falsely comforting. Divorce is awful for everyone involved, and my cheery hindsight might push you toward something you don’t really want.
3. Your situation is unique to you. No relationship is the same as another, and no one divorce is the same as another either. What worked out perfectly for me, could be a disaster for you. Only you know the nuances of your situation, and the divorce process is not one-size-fits-all. It can be tempting to follow in someone else’s footsteps, but you probably would be better off blazing your own trail.
4. I don’t want to participate in your life-altering decisions. If things don’t go well for you or you have regrets, I don’t want to have played a part in that. I will always be ready to talk and lament over a couple glasses of wine. I will always support you, comfort you, and remind you of all that you are capable of. I will understand what you are feeling, and I will promise you that it will get better. I won’t help you make decisions though, ever. At such a vulnerable time, it is easy to want someone else to take over and help. I will remind you that you have got this, that you can figure it out on your own and feel good about your choices because you did what was right for you.
5. Just because I am happy after my divorce, it doesn’t make me an expert. Things have worked out great for me, and that may look pretty tempting to you. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome from my particular situation. You might think that I had it all figured out and that my road map will work for you. I was mindful and patient through the entire process. I considered all my options, and then I considered them three more times before I made any choices. Does that make me an expert? Absolutely not. When I made my choices, I was hoping for the best after careful consideration, but to some extent it was completely out of my hands. Ultimately, it all worked out, and for that I am endlessly thankful.
6. I am really sick of talking about it. There is more to me than a divorcee. I have a lot going on in my life other than my divorce that I would rather talk about. If you have a specific question or need a reference I can help you out, but I am not interested in rehashing my divorce as often as people seem to ask.
I have nothing but love and support to offer you. You’ll get through this, just as I did. But no, I will not give you advice.