Filing for divorce is not something you do in a vacuum. You’ll need to decide when going public with your divorce is the right thing to do.
This isn’t a situation you can keep to yourself for very long, nor should you want to. Eventually you will have to confide in your family and friends, not only because they’ll find out anyway, but to get their support.
So, When Should You Go Public?
Telling others too soon about an impending divorce can be a mistake. Everyone has an opinion and will want to share it with you and your spouse. You have already made the decision and it wasn’t an easy one. Listening to opinions now just opens up those fresh wounds again. This can make the divorce proceedings very hostile as sides are taken.
Let’s take a look at a few ways to help make breaking the news a bit less painful:
- Agree with spouse about timing – Before anything is said, be sure to reach an agreement on when to let everyone else know. Before you go public with the news of your divorce, make sure that you both are comfortable with the timing. It’s better to discuss all your concerns about breaking the news beforehand than risk unintentionally causing harm somehow. There may be delicate issues to consider before breaking the news to anyone.
- Tell your children first – It won’t soften the blow any if you wait to tell your kids. And you won’t be doing them any favors postponing the inevitable if they hear the news from someone else. You’ll want to sit down and, depending on the age of the children, give your kids the essential information. Be brief and honest about your decision, without getting into details of your marriage. Kids basically want to know that they’ll be okay, they’ll have a home, and that their lives will not change too much. Kids are generally not interested in the stories behind the marital breakup. Nasty tales of anger and hurt between spouses should be saved for the therapist couch. Reassure your children that their needs will be met. Also, do not ask or expect your children to keep the divorce a secret. The stress for such a thing can be very damaging to a child.
- Start divorce proceedings – Filing the initial divorce papers does little more than put a freeze on your marriage. However, once the decision is made, the children are told, and you agree on when you’ll tell the rest of the family and your friends, this paper solidifies the decision you’ve made. In some cases, the sheer weight of the decision, once it’s made, is lifted. Other people’s opinions will come pouring in once they’re told, but with the papers filed, you and your spouse will not have to go through that uncertainty again. You have already done all that. You have gone through the painful, and thoughtful decision to file for divorce. You do not want to discuss the decision, or debate it, with anyone.
After you’ve gone through these first three steps, now it’s time to tell others. Check out Part Two of this article: Going Public with Your Divorce -Keeping Damages at a Minimum.