With one-in-three Australian marriages ending in divorce, most “smug married couples” don’t go long without their fragile eco-system being compromised.
This usually comes from a couple of newly divorced former friends partying hard, dating up a storm and shining the spotlight on our own union.
Thus is our tendency to question the state of our own relationships whenever divorce news hits, particularly if it way too close to home for comfort.
After the divorce announcement triggers a quick examination of your own marriage, groups of “smug marrieds” are left with the challenge of what to do with these “free-floating folk”.
Which member of the former couple gets invited to the dinner party?
How do we best support them through this difficult time?
As visions of Bridget Jones enduring dinner with several "smug married couples" swim before our eyes, it's not a suprise to find out that most of us get it wrong.
Newly single writer Kerri Sackville has some advice for married couples.
She says "smug marrieds" need to stop assuming that her life is one, endless party and they also need to stop asking her if she's seeing anyone special.
"When couples get together they joke a lot about all the pain of being married. You know, Oh my god, I've gotta have sex again, you know, that's something that women talk a lot about," she told Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo on Mamamia podcast This Glorious Mess.
Listen to Kerri Sackville discuss being single while surrounded by couples.
"The men, I know, get together at the bar and, you know, moan about their wives, that's just part of it. So of course when you've got a single person that doesn't fit into that whole paradigm of discussion but the other thing is people want to slot us into one of two categories and either they think of us as, you know, a bit sad and lonely or a lot of married women, I'm not sure about men, but a lot of married women have this idea that we're outside "living la vida loca" and partying all the time..."
Sackville says it's enough to just invite single people to events and leave their non-attendance up to them, and also stop asking if they are seeing someone.
The other thing I know I and many others do is complain about our own marriages, adding a few additions such as, "I wish I was single", or "It must be so nice to have toast for dinner".
5 things you need to know about dating over 40.
Kerri says being newly single can be lonely. She says the assumption is that they are out every Friday and Saturday night but often they are home alone, the kids with their ex, floating around their homes wondering what to do with themselves. She advises us to check it and make sure our newly single friends are okay.
"Of course reach out, of course keep the invites open, particularly to family functions, you know, when you're getting together with your kids because one of the things with separated families is the kids often miss out as well because they're not invited to many things."
"Some people react by wanting a lot of company and some people become hermits. So just keep on checking on them, keep on asking and if they are newly separated over the holidays then don't think that because they haven't responded to a couple of invitations that they don't want you in their life. Keep asking."
She also says the newly single need to reach out. "The first year out is really tough. I absolutely promise you it gets better. I absolutely promise you. And life is wonderful and fabulous again and particularly people who came from homes that weren't necessarily safe and comfortable and happy. To have your own home once you get settled that's a safe and nuturing environment for you and your kids is just so fantastic."
"You will find a group of friends," she said.
Kerri also says if you are newly single and feeling lonely, don't be afraid to reach out to friends and let them know you need them.
Listen to the full episode of Mamamia podcast This Glorious Mess, hosted by Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo and featuring writer Kerri Sackville.
Kerri Sackville writes at Life and Other Crises.
To subscribe to This Glorious Mess in iTunes go to apple.co/mamamia where you'll find all of our shows in one place and any books written by the many Mamamia guests.
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