How To Tell People You Are Getting A Divorce

Let's Untie the Knot | How To Tell People You Are Getting A Divorce

Sharing the news of your divorce with friends and family is more than just spreading the news.  It is equivalent to saying goodbye to your former life.  You may have developed your friendships as a couple and now the question becomes “who gets the friends in the divorce?”  “Will they stay loyal to you or your spouse or will both of you try to maintain those relationships?”  In addition, those friends know you as a “couple” and your family as a “unit.”  “How will it work now that your couple is uncoupled and the family has fractured into two units?”  “Will you be able to maintain those friendships or do you now face the arduous task of forming brand new relationships?”  Sometimes friendships that worked well within the context of a marriage falter when you’re uncoupled.

Telling your families about your divorce can be even more difficult.  In the case of a contentious divorce, it is actually much easier.  Your family will take your side; his family will take his side.  But what happens if you were close to his family?  Although they may love you, their loyalty is to their son/brother/uncle, etc.  You know that divorce is the only option, but you are devastated over the thought of losing half of your “family.” 

Whether you make the announcement with your spouse or alone, it is a good idea to practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.  It is advisable to come up with a “divorce statement” ahead of time in which you plan out what you want to say and to whom you want to say it.   Such a statement usually entails a brief description that your marriage is ending and that you are committed to moving forward and taking steps that promote the best interests of your children (if you have children).  If your divorce is not amicable, it is usually better to come forward with a neutral statement.  You can provide any additional information you feel is relevant to your innermost circle of family and friends. 

Once you have decided to tell your friends and family, you should be prepared for them to have a range of emotions.  If your ex cheated on you or engaged in abusive behavior, you will likely receive immediate love and support.  Most of your closest friends and family will probably be happy and relieved that you finally decided to leave.  But if you and your spouse are splitting somewhat amicably, you may hear a variety of responses, some of which may be difficult to handle.  Remember, you can never control how other people will behave.  In addition, prepare yourself for plenty of unsolicited advice.  Some people will have the perfect answer to “fix” your faulty divorce.  You can stop this discussion before it even starts simply by stating, “I don’t want to talk about it right now.”  Prepare for the worst- case scenario in terms of how others will react and put your own needs first.

For most people, telling friends and family they are getting divorced is a frightening prospect.  It is completely normal to be concerned about people’s reactions.  If your divorce is amicable in nature, try to work together to break the news and form a united front.  If your divorce is more contentious, it is probably best to “divide and conquer.”  Realize, however, that there is no one right way to break the news.  By telling your loved ones about your divorce in the gentlest way possible, you are surrounding yourself with support and love. 

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