There’s a divorced guy I’ve known for awhile. Years, actually. He’s really sweet, and the entire time I’ve known him, I can’t help thinking that his divorce had to be the wife’s fault. How could it not? Every time I see him he’s smiling and he seems kind and gentle, and great with his kids. I can’t imagine him ever being a jerk. I’ve also heard good things about him from lots of people who know him. So, I pretty much assumed that the wife was probably a huge biatch and that she had to be the reason they were divorced.
Then, a couple weeks ago, I met the wife for the first time. OMG! Can I just tell you, after talking to her for about 15 minutes, I was thoroughly disgusted in myself because I really liked her, too, and realized I had completely judged her before actually even laying eyes on her.
The funniest part now is that I’m torn. I want to be friends with both of them, and I’m sure I can be. I’m the one who’s having issues with it, as if I feel like I have to choose or I’m being two faced, which is soooooo not true! It doesn’t have to be that way.
I will never know what happened between these two seemingly lovely people, and frankly, I don’t want to know. It’s none of my business or concern. My business is to treat them each as individual friends, and more importantly, STOP judging their marriage, and think I have any clue about what happened.
I have come to the conclusion that all divorced people are judged by some people. It’s inevitable. People have preconceived notions about you before actually getting to know you, or know your story (and usually never find out the real story unless you become best friends with them.)
I’m not a person who cares so much about what other people think. But, I do have moments when I feel I am being judged. I’m the divorced, single mom who writes romance novels about divorce, and blogs about divorce. If someone never read any of my books or blogs, that person might think I’m bitter, or I can’t let it go, or I hate men. Of course, if they read anything of mine, they would see that style is uplifting, happy, inspirational, humorous and romantic. But they don’t know that. And still, they judge.
The worst judging story I can remember happened to me few years ago. A girl I know (who is married) said something that got back to me.
“I just don’t get it,” the girl said, “Her ex is so nice and so good looking, and I’ve seen him with the kids. He seems like such a great dad. What is she thinking?”
I was furious. She barely knew me, my kids or my ex, so it was infuriating that she would so quickly come to a conclusion that Jackie and her ex should try to work things out.
She was judging me.
Around the same time as the annoying girl said what she said, a very wise friend said to me, “Just remember, there are three sides to every story. There’s your side, his side and the truth.”
That always stuck with me because it’s very very true, and I wish people would stop judging and just consider that they don’t have all the facts, and that even if they did, they don’t know enough to make a judgment on whose fault it was, and if getting divorced was the right thing to do.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I sometimes judge. I just admitted that in the first paragraph of this blog. I try not to, but sometimes that’s difficult.
Here’s another example. I recently met a woman who is getting divorced because her husband cheated on her. He is still with the same person he cheated with. That’s pretty much all the info I have. So, my gut instinct is to hate the husband. After all, this girl is adorable and kind and smart. Why did he have to ruin everything and cheat?!
That’s Jackie being completely judgmental. How do I know the girl wasn’t a total bitch to the guy for years? Cold, distant, and hard to talk to. Who’s to say she didn’t deny him sex for months at a time, or was cruel to him? Maybe she cheated on him first, but it didn’t work out? There are so many scenarios and things that probably led this man to seek love from another woman. I’m by no means defending him, but my point is, I shouldn’t be judging him either.
If someone says, “My husband cheated,” don’t judge right away. If someone says, “My husband is a drug addict,” don’t judge right away, feel sorry for the guy because he is ill, probably not a bad person, but has a true illness, just like if he had cancer. If someone says, “My husband hit me,” okay, now I have a problem. But really, there’s nothing else, other than physical abuse that warrants immediate judging.
I was recently with a good friend who taught me a trick, and I have been using it. When you find yourself judging someone (not just a divorced person, anyone), take the tip of your tongue and push it against your right or your left cheek as hard as you can, and then say to yourself, “Judging, judging, judging.” She told me that one of her college professors told her that 20 some years ago and it has always stuck with her and she doesn’t judge as much. I actually taught that to my kids.
Here’s the thing about divorce and divorced people. They have enough going on when it comes to judging. They are most likely in litigation, and are being judged every few months by a real judge, who does have the right to judge them. They don’t need any more judges.
I know it’s hard not to judge, but just remember, you were never a fly on someone’s wall. You didn’t see how they lived when they were married. You can’t crawl into their mind and see how they are feeling.
You can certainly question their decisions on certain things, and if they are engaging in unethical or immoral behavior, by all means, speak up. But, when it comes to their divorce, it’s best to be open minded and get some more facts before you draw any conclusions as to why your friend ended up divorced.
Judges belong in robes with gavels in their hands, sitting behind big desks and listening to nervous lawyers argue their cases. Unless you are an elected official, start using the tip of your tongue, and open up your mind and your heart. You don’t know what happened. Court adjourned!