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Gabby101's avatar

Why is sadness so unacceptable in divorce?

Asked by Gabby101 (2945points) June 28th, 2013

My husband and I are getting a divorce. Sometimes I feel angry, sometimes hopeful, sometimes relieved, but often I feel sad. I feel sad that the man that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with does not return that feeling, I feel sad that I have to be single (when I don’t want to be), I feel sad that I will suffer financially (at least in the short-term) – in general, I feel sad that the life I thought I was going to have is not going to happen. I know that the future may hold something even better, but it doesn’t stop me from sometimes mourning my marriage and my imagined future with my husband.

I get very little support for feeling sad. My friends are all very supportive of the angry feelings and any kind of “he’ll be sorry when I’m gone” kind of talk. They also like to hear about how much better my life will get once I’m divorced. When I say I am sad, things get icy or I get turned in to a victim (a doormat who stays with her abuser (although there was no abuse and I am not staying)). When I told my therapist I was sad, she said that was normal, but in the next breath was on to the things will only get better speech. When I returned the next week and said I was still sad, then the conversation became about what was wrong with me and why I didn’t love myself. Two weeks after deciding to get divorced, I wasn’t allowed to be sad or still be grieving. Has anyone else experienced this?

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22 Answers

janbb's avatar

Yes, to a large extent. Many of the folk on here know that my husband left me 18 months ago. It’s been a rocky road and I’ve felt all the feelings you express. Largely, a great amount of sorrow and grieving more than anger even though much is better about my new life. I did experience friends who thought I should be angrier than I was and others who thought I should be over loving him when I wasn’t. Some friends have been thoroughly present in their support and it is important to realize who is a good resource and who isn’t. Remember it is a real loss and you have every right to grieve for as long as you need to. I have found that the extreme pain is less than it was although there are still things that trigger the loneliness and sorrow. Feel free to pm me if you need to.

cazzie's avatar

I am going through a very slow and painful process of separation right now. Oh man…. My sadness outweighs probably all my other feelings. I think it is not only acceptable, but so utterly obvious. Don’t mistake feeling resolute with not being sad. We are in mourning. We are mourning the loss of what we thought would be… what we had pinned our hopes and dreams on, not just for us, but for your kids…. (if you had kids… not sure on that) I am sad that my son will never have a father who has ever taken a real interest in him. I am sad that I stuck it out for as long as I did, ageing, growing bitter and resentful and seeing how those feelings affected my sons. I have NOTHING to little to do with my family. Anyone I have spoken to about this has been on his side of the family and they have, now, tightly and firmly, closed ranks against me and my son. I am the cheese.
Screw anyone who passes judgement on your feelings. NO ONE can do that. You feel how you feel. This shit sucks big time. We blame ourselves. We let them blame us for everything that went wrong, but you know what, SCREW THAT! My memory is good enough to remember the girl who came here to Norway almost 11 years ago. She was strong, hopeful and excruciatingly trusting. It was the trust part that let her down, but that wasn’t her fault. Having decent expectations of another human being who is supposedly in love with you is NOT a bad thing. I was taken advantage of, misled and lied to, but that shouldn’t make me hate myself or blame myself. I guess I am now past the sadness stage and I am on to acceptance, the last stage. Nah… I am still sad and disappointed, but more for my son, but his father was never going to be any more of a father to him no matter what I did. Perhaps now, we both can move on and he can find better, more positive male role models he can chose to have in his life.

Gabby101's avatar

@cazzie, you’re correct, there is no shame in trusting and believing in your spouse – that is what marriage is all about.

Pachy's avatar

It saddens me to hear you have friends who don’t think you’re entitled to feel sad about the breakup of your marriage. They have to be zombies or robots, these “friends.” Good heavens, I still feel some sadness about the long-past breakup of my marriage and other relationships to this day.

marinelife's avatar

I was very sad when I got divorced even though my husband was abusive and crazy. I had been part of his family for almost five years, and there was real grief at leaving them. Also at the loss of an ideal, the idea of a happy marriage. Grieving is very natural.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think it would be normal not to be sad. For all the reasons already mentioned. The hopes you had for a happy marriage, the disillusionment with how things have gone, the lonliness and sadness that comes with the loss of your marriage. Even if you know it’s the right thing, it’s still normal and understandable to be sad.

I’d say your friends just don’t know how to respond when you’re sad. It makes them uncomfortable. It’s likely your feelings will be very cyclic. You will feel things are getting better and then suddenly something will trigger a return to sadness or anger. Your therapist, while I can see it would be annoying, is right. Time is the great healer. It does take time to grieve though.

I think it’s unhealthy to try to feel what other people expect you to feel. You have to go through the grieving process. It took me a good year before I was ready to think about seeing anyone else. Perhaps if you’re feeling sad, avoid those people who make you feel you have to put on an act. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

Taciturnu's avatar

I asked for a divorce from my husband of 7 years and I was sad.

I think for me at least it was the loss of the future I thought we’d have. The goals that would never be achieved.

I’m much happier now, but its completely normal to be sad, even if you’re the one liking for the out.

dabbler's avatar

As far as I can tell sadness it the healthiest part of the spectrum of things you will feel about a divorce.
It is completely appropriate and does not do the kind of emotional damage that anger does.
Your friends just don’t know, if they are favoring anger/revenge over sadness.

Sadness is respectful, to you as well as your former-spouse-to-be, and sometimes people don’t realize that even though things ‘didn’t work out’ you can still respect and even love your significant other from whom you are divorcing.

Blackberry's avatar

Divorce is common, so it’s seen as an “oh well” type of thing. You made a mistake like millions (billions?) of other people and probably weren’t compatible. It happens. There’s someone out there that is actually compatible with you.

Edit: I didn’t mean to say it was your mistake, but that as people we make mistakes by not vetting our mates before we make such heavy decisions.

Sunny2's avatar

Mourn as long as you must. Look forward to the day when you wake up in the morning and he is not in your mind. It will come. When you realize that, smile and join the world again.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I have no idea what’s going on with your therapist, who should really be more aware of what the grieving process is like. As for your friends, though, I imagine they have trouble empathizing with your sadness because they are not sad. They’ve decided to be supportive, and they think that means taking your side and being indignant on your behalf. But they don’t seem to realize that the support you need goes beyond reassurance that you are making the right decision. They might see sadness as an expression of doubt or regret regarding your decision to get divorced. They’re afraid it is a sign that you might go back to your husband.

From what you have said here, though, it seems clear that this is not why you are sad. You are sad that the situation came about in the first place. It’s not that you don’t want to divorce your husband, it’s that you are sad it had to come to this. I think that is a perfectly understandable feeling to have, and it tells me you have a healthy idea about marriage. It is unfortunate when marriages end, even if some divorces are for the best. You never wanted to be in this situation, and I doubt you’re friends ever wanted to see you in this situation either. But for some reason, they don’t seem to understand which part of the divorce you are upset about.

I’m sorry to hear that you are not receiving support for your sadness from your friends, but I’m glad to see you have found support for it here. No one can tell you how to feel. Your feelings are your feelings, regardless of what anyone thinks about them. But I also think that the way you are feeling right now is justified. You had a set of expectations for your marriage, and those expectations were reasonable. So of course you are sad now that your hopes have been dashed. People should realize that you’re going to need some time to come to terms with the situation. You have every right to the time you need.

Hypno's avatar

It’s ok to be sad. Ride along with it for as long as you need to until it separates naturally.

Do you actually need any help with your sadness?

geeky_mama's avatar

Here’s a thought.. maybe it’s not that it’s unacceptable (to your friends) for you to be sad..just that they don’t know how to respond to that emotion. It’s easier to respond to your anger (You go girl! Damn right!)..but how to be supportive of sadness?

I think it’s something people who lose a spouse (that is, become widows/widowers) experience to a degree, too. People are awkward around sadness and don’t know what to say or how to say they say nothing…or fail to validate your feelings. It’s probably not because they’re bad friends, per se, but that they just don’t know what to say.

hearkat's avatar

Sadness is a huge part of the grieving process, and therefor it is entirely appropriate. I think more people respond to the anger aspect, because it fuels motivation to move forward despite the ex, so they feel that they are being encouraging. When I went to work the day after my divorce, my coworkers had a congratulatory lunch party and cake, which took me by surprise. But in hindsight, I appreciate the gesture of acknowledging that a tough chapter in my life was behind me.

Gabby101's avatar

@Hypno, in the beginning, I did feel that I needed help and that’s why I went to the therapist. I had really dark days where I just couldn’t see the point of life. The initial shock and grief of the situation completely took over my thought process and I couldn’t see the light.

It just disappoints me that I can’t be honest with all of my close friends. Sometimes things happen to you that you don’t want to happen and I get that you don’t need to pour your heart out to everyone, but there should be some people you should be able to be honest with and not have to pretend that everything about your life is perfect.

janbb's avatar

@Gabby101 Are there some friends who have been more validating or who are more approachable? Maybe there are some whom you can talk to about what you need from them even if they aren’t initially giving it? I think many people are made uncomfortable by the rawness of the pain and don’t know how to respond. Failing that, or maybe in addition to that, you could look for a divorce support group where you will meet others who share your feelings. I joined a singles walking group two days after my Ex left and it was the best thing I did, although I do have great support from some old friends as well. If you go to , you will find many support, activity and affinity groups that you can join – not just support groups.

Qipaogirl's avatar

I think people don’t feel comfortable around sadness. It frightens them. I have been divorced/divorcing since 2008, and while I can say that I am genuinely over my spouse, I still have my moments of sadness. It’s normal, but I think lots of people view it as a non productive emotion, so they try to “snap” you out of it, which hurts. Also, I think sadness can be a bit contagious, and sometimes seeing someone sad takes you to your own sad places. I cannot tell you how many people thought tough love was what I needed, and if I became sad or forlorn they would yell at me, telling me it was for my own good. The intent may have been kind, but it never truly helped, and I quickly learned who to avoid when I had the “sads.” So, I learned to keep my sad times private, and it was better. A little wallowing can be a good thing sometimes. Should you have to do such things no, but some people don’t handle grief well. It will get easier, and you will feel less moments of sadness, but it is normal, and it is okay to have those times. I actually would write on message bards like this for support. There are lots of us out there, so someone always understood, and sometimes it is easier with a setting such as this. Lots of people here “get it” so lean on us when you need! Smiles to you!!!!!

ssssanna's avatar

The pain your experiencing now,is a way of your heart telling that your going further away from him. So its good to be sad and vent it out.Just think if he is worth your sorrow and about all the pain he has given to you when you feel sad.Spend some time with kids or a puppy or try spending time in helping someone,you will feel a lot better.I will cross my fingers for you…

ucme's avatar

The real sadness in any divorce has to be where kids are involved, my wife has two kids from a previous marriage & I showed up soon after a bitter divorce.
Her kids were very young at the time & the courage they showed throughout, especially with a new man on the scene, was admirable.
We had two kids of our own shortly after & we’re all one big happy family…which is nice.

Nullo's avatar

My guess is that your friends are trying to shove you right through the sadness – not because it’s wrong to be sad, but because, theoretically, nobody wants to be sad.

Hypno's avatar

How would you want your sadness to be acknowledged? It sounds as though you don’t want to be taken out of sadness. You want sympathy for your loss, which is ok. That doesn’t aim to move you into a new place, it keeps you there until you are ready to leave.

If a friend said to you that they are just really sad about something, how would you deal with that?

augustlan's avatar

My divorce was a mutual decision, I’m very happily remarried, and sometimes I still get sad that the first marriage didn’t work out or feel nostalgic for the good times we had. I wish people were better at handling sadness and grief in others. Everyone wants to fix it, but sometimes all you need is a shoulder to cry on and a hug. I’m sure I speak for many here when I say you’ve got our virtual shoulders and hugs.

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