Telling Your Family and Friends that You’re Getting a Divorce
Let’s face it, it’s not easy to announce your divorce, it may in fact be what you are dreading the most, but confiding in others will help you gain the support you need to pick up the pieces. There are so many different emotions – sadness, anger, fear, guilt, etc. One of the fears is about telling your friends and family. How will they react? What will they think? Will they ask a lot of questions that you don’t know how to answer? Will they be supportive?
Some divorces come as no surprise that people saw coming and some divorces seem to come out of left field, depending on how much you and your spouse were “keeping up with appearances.” It is natural to want to keep up with appearances, after all, you may have went through months (even years) where you didn’t know if it would work out or not, and if it did you didn’t want your friends and family to dislike your spouse or think poorly of your marriage. This is not uncommon at all, it just makes initiating the conversation a bit more difficult.
Remember that ultimately your friends and family want you to be happy. Tell your immediate family and closest friends first. From there, it gets trickier to know what is the best approach to take. You probably don’t want to, nor is it healthy, to tell the story over and over, so maybe an email to extended family and friends works for you, or maybe having a specific friend and family member responsible for letting certain people know is the best method for you. Having to worry about whether you are breaking the news in the right delivery method should be the least of your concerns right now, and people ultimately need to understand that. However, because everyone seems to want to know why, it is imperative to have a brief “elevator speech” ready. This can be as simple as, “We are two good people, that are simply not good together.”
Your boss may need to know since divorce proceedings might conflict with your work schedule, but the need to tell co-workers will vary. If you aren’t close to them and normally don’t discuss your personal life then an announcement probably isn’t necessary. In today’s digital world there is also social media to consider. Don’t feel like you have to make an announcement, you can do nothing or simply change your name, eventually people will figure it out. News travels, and beyond close friends and family, you don’t own anyone an explanation.
Don’t be alarmed if some people start to distance themselves. They may also be grieving this divorce. Sometimes friends whose own marriages are struggling will separate themselves from you for fear that it may happen to them as well. It’s important to remember that divorce does not define you. Your true friends will stand by you and most likely will want to help, but they may not necessarily know how. Perhaps before you break the news to friends and family make a list of what people can help with. Whether that’s enlisting in moving help, help with the kids, emotional support, attorney recommendations, or even needing a group of friends to commit to a night out once a month. Write down anything and everything that you might think could help, and then when people ask you can let them know immediately. Helping assists people in coping and understanding, so enlisting in friends and family’s help can be beneficial to all. Friends will want to help and lend advice. Allow them to help, but please seek advice from professionals (clergy, attorneys, therapists, advisers, etc), and remember to take care of yourself emotionally and physical.
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