Empowering Yourself: How to Handle Social Stigma Surrounding Divorce

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Freed marcroft divorce and family law attorneys with "social stigma in divorce"Whether it’s the disapproval of family members and friends or the judgments of society at large, the pressure to avoid the social stigma of divorce can be powerful.  But the truth is you have to be careful.  Concerns about the social stigma of divorce — whether perceived or actual — can lead to bad decisions.  When you feel ashamed or embarrassed about getting divorced and worry about how others will perceive you — it can color your decision-making.  For example, it might lead to your staying in an unhappy marriage for too long.  Or, even when you do decide to divorce, overly focusing on the perceived divorce stigma may distract you from focusing on your own long-term goals for your life when making decisions in your divorce.

However, it’s critical to remember that divorce is a personal choice, and there is no shame in taking steps to improve your life and well-being.  In fact, you deserve to be proud of yourself.

In this article, we’ll explore some practical tips for managing social stigma, including how to talk to friends and family, seek professional support, and find positive ways to cope with the challenges of divorce.  Whether you’re in the early stages of the divorce process or have already gone through it, this article will provide the tools and inspiration you need to take control of your life and move forward confidently.  So let’s get started!

Understanding the Social Stigma Surrounding Divorce

First and foremost — divorce is a personal decision and should not be judged by others.  Everyone has their own unique circumstances and reasons for choosing to end their marriage.  It should be viewed as an opportunity for growth and a chance to move towards a happier life.

Indeed, divorce is sometimes stigmatized in society.  This social stigma is hurtful to those going through a divorce and can make it challenging to move forward and make the best decisions for oneself.  It is essential to understand that this stigma is not based on facts or reality but rather on personal bias, societal expectations, or outdated beliefs.

Remember that people’s feelings about their own marriage can lead to judgments about yours.  For example, suppose they justify staying in their unhappy marriage because it’s the “right” thing to do. In that case, they may perceive you leaving your unhappy marriage as undermining their own choice.  In addition, sometimes close family and friends resist your relationship changes because of the impact on their own lives.  For example, for your immediate family member, your divorce may mean that the Thanksgiving traditions shift.  Or, your friend might mourn the changes to the annual couples ski trip they love.

This doesn’t make them bad people — it’s quite normal and almost certainly isn’t ill-intended.  But it is a reminder that other people view you and your choices around marriage and divorce through their own lens — and that you need to make the best decisions for you and your life.

Read: Six Things I’ve Learned About Friendship and Divorce

Effects of Social Stigma on Individuals Going Through Divorce

The social stigma surrounding divorce can significantly impact individuals going through the divorce process.  It can lead to shame, guilt, and embarrassment, making you feel isolated and alone.  You may react to those feelings by making poor decisions, such as staying in an unhappy marriage or settling for less in the divorce settlement than you deserve.

In addition, social stigma may also make you feel judged and criticized, which can lead to anxiety and depression.  Leaning into these negative feelings can make it challenging to move forward and start a new chapter in life.

Remember, TED* (The Empowerment Dynamic) teaches that your thoughts and feelings are generated within your mind, not from external events or actions.  While you cannot control external circumstances (including other people’s judgments about your divorce), you are 100% in control of how you react to them.

That means you get to be the actor, not the acted-upon.

Read: Personal Growth & Divorce

Overcoming Social Stigma – Self-Empowerment

The first step to overcoming the social stigma surrounding divorce is self-empowerment.  This means taking control of your own life and making decisions that are best for you, regardless of what others may think or say.  It is important to remember that you are the only one who knows what is best for you and your family.

One way to empower yourself is to focus on your own goals and aspirations.  Take time to reflect on what you want for your future and make a plan to achieve those goals.  This will help you to stay motivated and focused on the positive aspects of your life rather than dwelling on negative social stigma.

Another way to empower yourself is to surround yourself with positive and supportive people.  Seek out friends and family members who will support your decision to divorce and who will be there to offer encouragement and guidance as you navigate the divorce process.

Read: Control & Divorce

Building a Support System

Building a support system is essential when going through a divorce, including when dealing with social stigma.  Having a network of family, friends, and professionals who can provide emotional support and guidance is important.

One way to build a support system is to seek a therapist or counselor specializing in divorce.  They can provide a safe and non-judgmental space where you can express your feelings and work through any issues, and help you develop tools for dealing with social stigma.

Another way to build a support system is to join a divorce support group.  These groups can provide a sense of community and understanding as you connect with others going through similar experiences.  They can also offer practical advice and guidance on navigating the divorce process.

Read: What’s Better for Kids Staying in an Unhappy Marriage or Divorce?

Practicing Self-Care During Divorce

It is essential to take care of yourself during the divorce process, both physically and emotionally.  This means practicing self-care regularly, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.

In addition, it is important to take time for yourself, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation is important.  This could include hobbies, reading, or spending time with friends and family.  Self-care can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your overall well-being.

Read: Self Care & Divorce

Setting Boundaries with Judgmental Individuals

When dealing with social stigma surrounding divorce, it is important to set boundaries with judgmental individuals.  This means establishing clear limits on what you will and will not tolerate from others.

It is important to remember that you do not have to defend your decision to divorce or justify your actions to anyone.  If someone is being judgmental or critical, it is okay to let them know that their behavior does not work for it, and you will not continue to be around them if they persist.

Next Steps

In conclusion, the social stigma surrounding divorce can be challenging. Still, it is important to remember that divorce is your decision, and you should surround yourself with people who don’t judge your decision based on their own fears or bias.  By empowering yourself, building a support system, practicing self-care, setting boundaries, and seeking professional help if needed, you can confidently navigate the divorce process and move toward a happier and more fulfilling life.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC