Your relationship with your spouse is a fairly private affair, but once you get a divorce it sometimes feels like all of your dirty laundry is aired in public. Close friends and family should be supportive and understanding, but what about co-workers? Or your children’s friend’s parents? Or even extended family members? Do you owe them an explanation as to why your spouse is no longer attending parties with you? It can be hard to talk about a divorce, especially when it is still painfully recent. Here are some tips that help you break the news to others while still allowing yourself to have boundaries.
Who Should Speak First?
Do you go to friends and family and tell them first? Do you wait until they approach you to avoid starting an awkward conversation? The truth is, people are going to talk no matter what. You can get ahead of the gossip by telling people how you want the discussion to go. It will help your family and friends if they hear it directly from you first, but you are not obligated to go into details right away. There are multiple ways that you can spread the news that doesn’t require you to speak with people face to face. Sending out a text message might be a little too cold, but an email or a letter will allow you to organize your thoughts without having a barrage of questions thrown at you. It will also give people time to craft their own response that is more thoughtful. When it comes to extended friends, family and acquaintances, it is best to have a pre-thought out response. News travels fast, and people you haven’t talked to in a long time are bound to hear about it even if you didn’t want them to.
If you have an automatic response, it will be easier to avoid unwanted advice or questions if you say something to the effect of “X and I are getting a divorce. I appreciate your concern but this is something that is I need to work through and it is very private so I don’t care to go into any more detail right now.” Most people are very understanding but if someone keeps pressing for details you have a right to let them know that they are being rude.
What You Shouldn’t Do
You will probably experience a lot of pain an emotion leading up to the divorce, so you may want to take that out on your ex-spouse. You will regret dragging people into your divorce if you tell them all the details right away. Posting a message on social media for everyone to see can create unwanted attention that you might not have the emotional ability to handle right now. Bashing your ex-spouse in public will create more problems than solutions and it can be used against you in court. If you feel like you have to talk to someone then a therapist, who provides an unbiased opinion, will be a great option for you and they can help guide you through your grief. People mean well when they give you unsolicited advice and want you to talk to them, but they are not trained professionals that are contractually obligated to secrecy.
There is no right way to talk about a divorce. Both parties will say and do things that they will regret later on, or tell people secrets that they wished they hadn’t. There is no way that you are going to avoid the rumors, but you can stay on top of them. Telling people exactly what details you deem important enough and ignoring all the gossip that surrounds it will help you navigate your divorce until you get to the other side. The truth is, people will care about your divorce for only a short time and then move on with their own lives. The best thing you can do for yourself is to surround yourself with close friends and family and try and move on as well.