People getting divorced have the task of telling friends & family about the divorce. For some people, this is an easy reveal especially if friends & family already know that the marriage was on the verge of collapse. However, some couples keep their married life a secret so that telling their friends & family about the divorce is a challenge – a challenge that leads to a host of possible reactions.
- Telling friends & family about the divorce may open the door to emotional (and financial) support. A divorce is a life-changing event and a little support can make a world of difference.
- The announcement that you are getting a divorce may also elicit the opposite “I told you so” response. Getting a divorce can be painful and to have people bad-talk your ex may make things worst.
- Lastly, there are those friends & family who try to fix your marriage so as to save you from divorce. Regardless of their intentions, it is a burden to have to explain or justify your decision.
Below are a few tips on how to tell your friends & family about your divorce.
Agree on a Game Plan
Talk to your spouse and agree on when and how much to reveal to friends and family. If you’re going to announce your divorce, at least be on the same page so you’re not caught off guard.
If you have shared children and they do not know about the divorce yet, be especially careful about who to tell, and how you can get them to not spread the news any further. If the friends have children the same age as your own children, it is possible that the news will leak to your children.
It’s expected that someone going through a divorce will need emotional support. So, agree that the ex-husband can confide in a brother or a coworker for support. Similarly, an ex-wife can discuss the details of the divorce with a sister or close friend. For everybody else, especially with people who are friends of both wife and husband, make an agreement on when and how much to reveal.
There are friends who love you and support you and are there for you. There are also friends who are gossip mongers and want to hear every juicy detail. Don’t feel the need to discuss details with friends and family if you are not ready. Simply say, “I’m not ready to talk about that yet. Let’s talk about something else.” People who care about you and respect you will know to step back and give you space. Friends who press you for more information,… well, maybe they’re not good friends after all. For those people, don’t be afraid to drop them for a few weeks or months until you are ready to see them again.
Some friends & family will trash-talk your ex. For some people, it’s validating to know that someone agrees with you. For others, trash-talk is not appreciated. After all, your ex USED to be someone who you loved and admired, do you really need to speak poorly about them? Your ex is still the father or mother of your children. You can agree to get a divorce, but it doesn’t have to get ugly. If friends and family trash-talk your ex, you can stop them right away. Tell them that you and your ex agree to divorce but that you remain respectful and hope to move forward without animosity. Good friends & family will know to stop ex-bashing.
At the end of the day, you can’t control how friends & family react to the news of your divorce. But, you can control how you respond to their reactions. Remember:
- Agree on a plan of action with your spouse.
- Be selective on who and how much to tell.
- Say no to gossip mongers. Say no to trash talk. Say no to ‘fixers’.
- Say yes to support (emotional, spiritual, physical, financial)