You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have decided to get a divorce and at first, the two of you were not ready to tell anyone. However now, it's time to separate and really step out into the world as two separated distinct beings. How do you go about telling your friends and family? Is there a method or a way to go about it to try and break the news in a way that allows you to both keep your sanities and privacy?
There is no definite rulebook as to how to tell everyone, but there are some smart ways to go about the matter that will incur you and your former spouse, les stress.
Who NEEDS to Know
Before you start breaking the news, decide who really needs to know. In the early stages of separation, you are most likely going to feel vulnerable, scared and unsure. You and your former spouse can have a conversation over whom you both feel "needs" to know about the divorce, but understand that your partner's view and comfort level may be different than yours. So when deciding to tell people, choose people in the beginning that you feel comfortable seeing you at your potential worst. The early stages are often the hardest.
Sharing The Details
You cannot control what your former spouse says, but you can decide whom you tell the "real story" to and whom you don't. Not everyone needs to know the blow by blow of why the marriage fell apart, especially if these people are going to be interacting with your former spouse and/or you have children involved. Things get back to kids. Be cautious on what details you give out. Not only can it create a lot of stress between you and your former spouse, but it can also come back to bite you in the butt. Words can be misconstrued and taken out of context.
The Ones Who Will Disapprove
Do you have family or friends that you know will shake their heads in disapproval over the divorce? If that's the case, you should avoid telling them until you and your former spouse have created a divorce agreement, also known as a PSA (property settlement agreement) or a MSA, (martial settlement agreement). Of course, that could take an awful long time to complete. If that's the case in your situation and you feel you will have to tell the person sooner than later, try these tips:
- Telling the person via email if you feel a face-to-face conversation will stress you out.
- Being direct: tell the person you know he or she doesn't approve, but this is your life and what you have decided. Don't expect the person to be a beacon of support and recognize that this person could potentially cut you out of his or her life. While that is unfortunate, you have chosen to divorce so don't feel ashamed. If this person cannot support you, than he or she does not deserve to be in your life with that negative energy.
- Express that while you understand this person doesn't approve, you would still like his or her support if possible
- Don't make excuses or apologize: a marriage is until the day you pass. If this marriage is no longer serving you good or adding joy to your life, don't feel bad. I am sorry but marriage isn't always forever.
Saying Nothing Until You Have Accepted The Facts
It's also a smart move to not share a word about your divorce until you have accepted the fact that it is happening. Not that you should keep it to yourself as that's a huge emotional burden, but that before you tell a large group of people outside your small insular circle, you need to be ready for commentary. People will tell you their scary divorce stories, even if it's not their story to share! People will give you unsolicited advice. Be ready for the onslaught of voices from the peanut gallery.
Ask For Support
When you're telling your loved ones, be clear to ask for support. Tell people what you need.
For example, are you about to go through what could be a very ugly divorce? Tell your loved ones and ask them to be here for you.
Are you about to become a single parent? See which members of your tribe can help with any childcare needs.
Are you about to go back into the workforce due to divorce? This is when you want to talk to loved ones about job leads, resume help and career services.
The people who love you are not psychic. Tell them what you need so they can be here for you. They may imagine you are struggling with one aspect of the divorce when maybe you really aren't. For me, I wasn't crying into my dinner each night. I was more worried about money.
At the end of the day, do not fret over people's opinions of your divorce, even if they are people you truly love and admire. Only you can walk in your own shoes. Accept your choice and move forward with your life.
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated, writer, comedienne, and single mother. Laura will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women's issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for the New York Times, DivorceForce, Women's Health, Redbook, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, Your Tango and numerous other sites. Her own website is frommtvtomommy.com .