Sex & Relationships

What not to say to a newly single woman

If you know someone whose marriage has ended, it can be hard to know what to say. Here's what NOT to say.
what not to say to a newly single lady

When my marriage ended two years ago my neighbours circled like gulls to ascertain what the new living arrangements at my gaff were.

If you’ve never read my blog, Keeping UpWith The Holsbys, I’ll fill you in quickly – When my marriage had just ended I did a remarkable job of pretending it was business as usual. I wore bright lipstick, stuck a smile on my face and I drank a lot of wine.

My shituation was under control.

As I stepped out of my front gate I would be swooped upon by curious suburban neighbourly types fishing for information to which I’m infuriatingly schtum.

My best buddy suggested we build a man-sized mound of dirt in the back yard to really “f__k with them.” I personally thought that was pure gold. I could make it the new naughty corner and really look like the Mansons were living there.

I explained the situation to my direct neighbours because they’re home a lot. Living alone with my small kids now, I thought having some neighbourhood watch was a sound plan.

There was one particular Mrs Mangle nosy neighbour a few doors down whom I had avoided for about a year because I didn’t dig her swag. Neighbourhood gossip ain’t my bag, and although pleasant enough, there’s not enough time for the people I’m crazy about let alone ones I’m lukewarm on.

So, the nice young family next door was having a pretend picnic with their dinosaurs and teddies on a lovely rug in the gentle winter sun, and I stepped onto my back deck (which in awesome suburban style looks straight onto their greying knickers on the Hills Hoist).

I gave them a ‘nice day for it’ salute and we all felt fuzzy for a moment and went about our business, until I heard my name being yelled across two gardens and a couple of fences by Mrs Mangle.

“Danieeeeeellle, where’s your husband? I haven’t seen him lately. Is he here? I saw him packing boxes into the car a couple of months ago.”

It was like a punch in the face to be honest. I could see the pretend picnic slowly sinking into the ground as they wished for invisibility and I did that thing where your tummy drops and you nearly wet yourself.

“He doesn’t live here anymore” I yelled back “but perhaps over two fences and two gardens and a teddy bear’s picnic isn’t the best way to chat about it.”

Then I stalked into the house, slamming the sliding door enough to shatter the glass into a million pieces – At least in my head I did. I really just politely closed it grumbling to myself because even though I never want to speak to her again I still want her to like me.

The other comment I love from well-meaning thoughtless folk is;

“Wow, you have every second weekend off from your kids. You’re so lucky.”

Yes, I am lucky. Because my marriage didn’t work out how we planned and I’m a single mum juggling to keep two kids alive, and be the sole bread winner.

I get two days a fortnight to try and regain sanity. It’s awesomesauce. Everyone should have a crack at it.

In truth, the weekend thing is nice, but in an ideal world everything works out swell and you get a little ‘me’ time and family time is balanced and everything is shiny and life is played to the ‘Family Ties’ theme song…

“I bet we’ve been together for a million years, I bet we’ll be together for a million more…. sha la la laaa.”

I’d also like to say if you have a distant acquaintance going through this, asking them about their financial status is actually rude. Asking me how I’m getting along financially is a little bit like asking me if my bowels are regular, and what’s the consistency?

But I’m not immune to putting my foot in my mouth. In fact, I’ve put my foot so far in my mouth on occasion, it was easier to remove it rectally than it was to cough it up, so I’m not judging anyone for their lack of tact… however, if you’d care to express concern or curiosity for a friend buy a $5 flowers and invite yourself over for a cup of tea.

Like I would do.

Or simply grab their hand, look them in the eye, and ask them;

“Are you cool? Can I do anything?”

They’ll most likely say “yes, I’m cool,” and “no, you can’t” because that’s what we do, so you’ll be off the hook but at least you weren’t a thoughtless dick.

Danielle Colley

*Danielle Colley is a writer, blogger and mum. She is a regular contributer to The Weekly and other online and print publications.

You can see more of Danielle on her blog, Keeping Up With The Holsbys, or her Facebook page*

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