I was having coffee with some new friends the other day when our conversation went the way it usually goes. One minute we were chatting about our children – their quirks, their quibbles and their questions – and the next minute, we were talking about husbands.
Their husbands. Not mine.
Their spouses work too much, they said. They are away from home too often and they leave their dirty laundry all over the bedroom floor.
It’s a situation that has happened to me dozens of times since my divorce. And in the three years since my marriage ended, I haven’t figured out exactly what to do when my friends are venting about their spouses.
I usually just look down at my lap, fiddle with my mug or check my cell phone for text messages that I know aren’t going to be there. I wait patiently and politely until the conversational tide turns back in my direction.
I don’t tell my new friends that my husband, who is now my ex-husband, left one day and never came back. He’s not coming home at the end of the day, or even on Friday. He’s gone for good.
I don’t tell them that I wish I had a mate who works too much, because that would mean I had a partner who was helping me pay the bills. I don’t mention that picking up dirty laundry from the bedroom floor might be a bit annoying, but it also might make me feel a little less lonely.
Instead, I just wait for the moment to pass, smile gently as they chat, and wonder when I can start talking about my kid again.