That Old Gang of Mine

Heartbreak, Self

Who gets custody of your friends after your divorce? here's all you need to know.


You can divide the possessions, acquired over a lifetime together, and decide who’ll keep the house. But in the end, who gets custody of your friends when you get divorced? Unlike the coffee table and wedding china, your friends have this thing called free will and it’s no picnic deciding who’ll get to keep them. Unfortunately, you can’t saw them in half or bargain for them; it just doesn’t work like that.

As soon as you announce the big split, you’ll begin to notice changes in your friend’s behavior, because people have a way of getting uncomfortable around divorcing couples. They’ll do their best to side-step the name-calling and blame-assigning that goes with the territory and try to pretend they’re Switzerland, claiming neutrality, and may even tell you “I am Switzerland!” But there’ll come a time when they’ll forget their forsworn allegiance to this noble inclination and choose sides. Remember, grieving a death, even the death of a marriage, is a process; there are stages to go through. But the way you and your friends move through them will differ wildly.

Stage One is: Denial. By the time your friends realize you’re divorcing you’ll have long since passed this stage. Thank God! The whole thing dragged on long enough as it was and it was definitely time to cut your losses and run. For you, this stage was the emotional equivalent of devouring a pound of stilton cheese while watching an exercise video and thinking you’re getting a workout.

Remember to have patience with your friends as they deal with this stage of grieving because they’ll move through it quickly. After all, they can see your marriage doesn’t have a prayer in hell, so why waste another minute pretending otherwise?

And just like that, you’ll move on to Stage Two: Anger. Your friends will have something to chew on here, as this feeling is served up with a great big side of confusion. They’re pissed as hell about the whole situation but haven’t a clue who they should be mad at. Most often the men will see which way their wives are leaning and go that way. “Do you know what he did to her?”  The wives will exclaim. “I’m surprised she stayed as long as she did!”

You’ll find your friends, although well-meaning and full of vindictive ire, have nothing on you when it comes to this stage. You own Stage Two and even though you’ll eventually move on, you’ll be re-visiting this stage often and loudly. This is to be expected.

Stage Three is not pretty as it revolves around: Bargaining. This is the time when your friends have made their choices and have to find a way of dropping one of you without appearing insensitive. But there are probably parties on the horizon and nothing crushes a good time faster than a feuding, soon-to-be-divorced couple trying to inhabit the same room. So what choice do they have? One of you has to go. Once again, you probably passed through this stage when you were dividing up the houseplants and CD collection. And now all you can do is watch from the sidelines as your friends choose between you and your soon-to-be-ex like they’re picking teammates for dodge- ball.

Next comes the Big Fat Buzz-Kill - Stage Four: Depression. What can I say? This stage sucks equally for everyone and you’ll probably find yourself bouncing back and forth between Depression and Anger which is absolutely no fun. But hey, it helps pass the time. And you’ll have lots of that because the party invitations will probably have thinned out by now. (This is one of the things that’ll send you screaming and crying back to Stage Two.)

Stage Five: Acceptance will dawn one day. Finally! And at this point the earth will feel like it’s rotating properly on its axis once more. The dust will have settled and you’ll have moved on, at least on the surface of things. The staying power of this stage will be elusive for you as you’ll be yo-yoing around for a bit which is normal. The friends who have chosen you have chosen wisely and will certainly eclipse the ones that have shut you out. Sure you’ll probably feel like an orphan for a while, crying into your proverbial bowl of gruel. But the friends who’ve stuck by you are the real deal and in the end that’s all that really matters.