A few nights ago a conversation I was having got me thinking, I know, that’s hard to believe. We were talking about how when people find out that I am divorced or that her engagement ended, other people always respond with “I’m sorry.” And it actually bothers both of us a little bit. Sure, the marriage/engagement didn’t work out, but that is not necessary a bad thing. But what else is a person supposed to say when they hear about a divorce, each situation is different, so people feel that you have to walk on eggshells.
In my case, and I am sure my ex-wife would agree, congratulations would be the best thing to say. Sure, I’m not exactly happy that the marriage failed, but truth to be told, we never should have gotten married in the first place. I am quite happy that I am divorced from her. And I know a few people who are happy that their relationship is over. Maybe they were miserable, maybe they were abused, maybe it was just not meant to be. Saying I’m sorry in this case would not be appropriate. Congratulations, however, would be, and may even get a thank you response.
But I also understand the other side. What if you were upset that the relationship ended, what if it was not what you wanted? Well, saying congrats would be equally as upsetting, possibly more so depending on the person. I know people who are still not over their divorce. I feel for them, and I know that “I’m sorry” really is an appropriate response.
Now, I realize human nature requires up to say something, we don’t want or like that awkward silence. Hopefully there will be enough clues from the individual who got divorced that you can tell if you should say “Sorry” or “Congrats!” I know that will not always be the case, so other steps may have to be taken. Take the time to find out what you should say and how the person feels. “I’m sorry” is not always the correct response in all cases. Don’t make the assumption that the divorce or engagement breakoff was a bad thing. Maybe getting married in the first place was the bad choice.
And I will not even talk about assuming my ex-wife was the one who asked for the divorce.