Young and Divorced
You know the story: boy meets girl. They fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. But what happens when the fairy tale ends... in divorce?
What happens when the fairytale ends...We’ve got you covered.
"Even on my honeymoon, i knew"
This marriage wasn’t right. As much as I tried to drown my doubts in tropical drinks, my feelings surged even stronger when we returned and had to face everyday life together. Eventually, I couldn’t ignore the truth: I didn’t love my husband. So I filed for divorce. I was 31, and we’d only been married for a year and a half!
With so many celeb marriages ending—Katy Perry and Russell Brand or Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds—you’d think we’d be more accepting of divorce. But when it happens to you, you’re mortified, broke after lawyer fees (on top of wedding costs!) and worse, since you probably don’t know any divorced friends, you feel incredibly alone.
So why do women end up becoming divorcées at such a young age? One major factor: peer pressure. When all your friends are obsessing about their fairy-tale engagements, it’s tempting to want that for yourself. “Many women feel panicked if they’re not doing what others are—planning a wedding,” says Carin Goldstein, a therapist in LA That’s what
happened to Kay Moffett, Ph.D., who got married at 27 and divorced at 31—and later co-authored a book about the experience, Not Your Mother’s Divorce. When Moffett’s ex-husband’s best friend got engaged, she remembers thinking, ‘We should do it, too’. “I forced it when we really weren’t ready,” she says. “I think as women watch their friends tie the knot, they begin to feel like they should also be taking that next step, even if they haven’t seriously assessed whether their current boyfriend is right for the long-term.” Plain old naïveté can also play a part. Tasha Kapur, 23, who was married at 18 and divorced recently, has spent a lot of time thinking about why she got married in the first place. “‘Young and dumb’ is the most accurate explanation I’ve come up with,” she says. “We were in love, but we had no idea what we were doing.”
Another motivator is the idea that marriage is proof that something good is happening in your life. “There’s this need to feel settled, especially in your 20s, when you don’t know where your life is going to take you,” says Sascha Rothchild, 36, author of How To Get Divorced By 30. “If you can get married and feel settled, there’s this sense that your life is moving in a good direction.”
Young or Old, It Sucks!
Your therapist will tell you that it’s important to understand the reasons that your marriage failed, but when you’re spending Friday nights at home crying, all the therapy in the world can’t change the fact that divorce sucks. “I felt like an idiot...,” says Laura Verkin, 25, who created the blog Ring Finger Tan Line about her divorce. When she and her husband called it quits after six months of marriage, “we had just posted pictures [on Facebook]. My wedding was a spread in a magazine. I couldn’t believe it was over, and I was so embarrassed about it.” Social media can be tough—should you de-friend your sister-in-law?
What about those Tweets from your honeymoon? “With social media, it can become like high-school gossip times 10,” says Verkin. “I was so terrified to change my relationship status on FB, I deleted my account.”
There are no rules here. For starters, you may want to delete pictures and posts from your past that no longer reflect your life. “But you don’t not have to delete your account,” says Goldstein. “Only change your FB status when you’re ready.”
When going through something as heavy as divorce, you need a support network of friends who can dry your tears and take your mind off stuff. But, as Verkin found, few women are equipped to help a divorced friend. “Most of my friends had never known someone who was divorced,” Verkin says. “People began treating me like a newborn who they couldn’t get near or touch—they were afraid I’d break. It changed my relationship with a lot of people because they didn’t know how to deal with me.”
On top of all the grief, embarrassment, and isolation you feel, there are also the awful practicalities of divorce that make it different than just a break-up: divvying up possessions, deciding who gets the dog, the heartbreak of standing together in front of a judge explaining why your marriage failed, intimidating court documents, and sometimes, most shocking of all, how much it can all cost. Lawyers can cost lakhs, plus you have to pay court costs, which can all add up.
Getting Back to Okay
Start by assessing what went wrong—and yes, the part you played too. “It’s important to question how it went wrong,” Rothchild says. “Once you have perspective, you can decide how not to go down the same path.”
Okay, so you’ve done all that, and now you’ve met this great guy. When do you tell him about your past? There’s no rule, but wait until you feel a strong connection. And resist the temptation to talk about your ex a lot—it’s not a great way to get to know someone, Moffett says.
But sometimes, you just need to follow your instincts, no matter what the experts say. I told my future husband about my divorced status on our second date—awkwardly, while standing in a street. I was terrified he’d think I was damaged goods, but he just smiled and said my first marriage didn’t matter to him at all. Then the light turned green, he took my hand, and we crossed the street.”
I COULDN’T BELIEVE MY MARRIAGE WAS OVER, AND I WAS SO EMBARRASSED ABOUT IT.”
One advantage to divorcing in your 20s and early 30s is the ability to re-enter the dating scene while you’re still young. Just don’t jump into anything too quickly, says Moffett. “Lots of women get into relationships right after a divorce, before they’ve processed what happened, and it compromises that relationship,” Moffett says. Hold off for at least six months before entering into anything exclusive, she suggests.
‘ Damn! He’d got the piece with more marzipan!’
Cutting the cake is fun. Splitting up stuff? Not so much