If you are over 25 years of age, and undergoing a separation or divorce, you may feel the negative impact from being an “un-couple” in a world which embraces “couples only”. Before you were separated or divorced, a big night out for you and your husband may have consisted of dinner and a movie, with your married friends. Welcome to the “un-couple” world, where you are the “odd man out”, and perhaps unbalanced without your former partner and just plain lonely.
It seems that once you complete post-secondary school, the world is geared towards couples only. You will never see a table set for one, at a restaurant. Even the rides at an exhibition park are intended for couples. Have you ever attended a movie theatre, alone? Chances are likely that the ticket person asked you twice, “for one only?”, because he was so shocked that a single person might actually enjoy watching a movie… alone.
So, how do you do it? “uncoupling in a “couple’s world”?
- If you feel comfortable attending a sit-down dinner where you are the only un-couple, then you should attend these dinners. However, if you are not comfortable with this, consider asking the host to invite another single person, or single-parent family to the function. If you have a child, this may make your child feel more comfortable, as well. The other alternative is to refrain from attending these dinner parties, at least for a period of time, until you no longer sharply feel the absence of a former partner.
- If you want to eat out, and you are shy about requesting a table for one, consider eating at a small restaurant which will be happy to make accommodations for your dining pleasure. Bring your entertainment with you, for example, a newspaper.
- Invite your married friends to go out with you, without their respective “others”. It’s healthy for your married friends to spend some “girl time” together with you, anyhow.
- If you have few or no single friends, start connecting! It may take time to establish new friendships, but start the process. Join a divorce support group where you can meet other women that will also want to “get out”. You could also sign up for a special interest class or activity.
- If you are living in a home with sufficient or excess space, consider accepting a boarder. You may apply for a foreign student to live with you- the student is not your “instant friend”; however, it can be an incredibly culturally enriching experience for both yourself and children, you will have another warm body in the house, who may wish to participate in “family dinners” at friends’ homes.
- Take up some hobbies that you can practice by yourself. One example of a hobby that you can do, by yourself, is scrap booking. The practice of scrap booking may motivate you to take more pictures of yourself and loved ones and of course you will then have to take the initiative to create new memories that you will have to then scrap book. Also, there are many social scrap booking clubs, so if you want to meet other women that share your passion, you will be able to do so…
- Above all else, don’t settle for less than you deserve, simply because you no longer want to be an “un-couple”. If you are positive in your belief system, you can start having fun at this transition in your life. Eventually, when you feel ready and you meet the person that is right for you, you will again be a couple.
Divorce Talk: The Last Taboo
Welcome to the 21st century. Gone are the days when a pregnant woman could not appear on television. A magazine shoot of a topless model no longer evokes a gasp. The definition of marriage is re-defined. However, despite the exponential rise in the divorce rate, it would seem that divorce talk is the last taboo.
At a recent business luncheon, a female executive learned of my recent divorce. With a furtive glance sideways, she turned to me and whispered, “I am divorced, too”. Why was she whispering? Furthermore, why was I made to feel that we were discussing something so shameful that it could only be discussed in the privacy of our own female company?
Divorce is normally a traumatic event, and it helps to talk about traumatic events. Yet, unlike other life challenges, it seems that the world does not want to hear another divorcee “singing the blues”.
Why do people avoid involvement in divorce talk, even on a superficial basis? Do they think it’s viral, such that it could be transmitted by communication? We are taught throughout our lives that it is a positive attribute to recognize a mistake and rectify it. Yet marriage to an unsuitable partner and a resultant divorce appears to be the one mistake that is unforgivable, in the views of the community, notwithstanding the frequency and legality of the event.
Here is a challenge to the community-at-large: instead of making a divorced person run from the shadows and restrict their confidence to family and insulated support groups, how about we recognize the pain and suffering of this event, and bring Divorce Talk into the public sphere. Let’s dissolve this last taboo.
What can a divorced person do? Do what you need to do, to expunge the anger and sadness you may feel, over the event. At the same time, do not allow anyone to make you feel like your experience is less traumatic than it is. Don’t be ashamed of your change in marital status, and don’t be ashamed of any decisions that you made, or that were foisted upon you, in regards to your single status. Keep your head high throughout the process and maintain your dignity. If friends prove unsupportive, make an effort to make new friends, who can understand and deal with your change in life.