Telling friends and family you’re getting divorced for most people, is a frightening prospect. Being worried about people’s reactions is completely normal and totally understandable. Being prepared for tricky questions and negative reactions can make it much easier.
People breaking up commonly feel a sense of shame, as if they have ‘failed’. It is one of the most difficult experiences we can go through, a type of bereavement, and what you need most, is kindness and support.
When it comes to breaking the news, the most important people, because they are the most affected, are the children. It is vital that they hear it from you, and ideally before anyone else. Read our blog on telling the kids if you’d like some support. on this .
The next stage is family, then friends. If you and your ex can decide together who will tell which friends and family members, and if you can agree on what you’re going to say, it will help enormously.
You need to be aware that people have an unfortunate habit of saying inappropriate things, and often focus on how your breakup effects them or your children. Classic remarks such as ‘Have you really thought about it?’ or ‘But what about the children?’ are not uncommon. The best way to manage this is to be prepared. Be prepared to point out to them that your children are always your first consideration, and that what you need from them is to be supported, not undermined or judged.
You can never predict how people will behave. You can feel let-down by people you thought would understand, and surprised by those you thoughtless understanding. Remember that you can’t control how other people behave. You have your own emotions to deal with and you don’t need to take on their issues. People who react badly often do so because the thought of divorce frightens them, especially if they themselves are going through a difficult patch in their own relationship.
You may also find that some people feel embarrassed and don’t want to know too much, whilst others seem to relish the detail. Be prepared for gossip, and be careful who you confide in. If you feel that someone is pushing for too much information, you can politely tell them that you don’t feel ready to talk at the moment. A good friend is one who’s there to listen, but doesn’t pry.
Finally, remember that you have nothing to feel embarrassed about. You have made a very difficult and brave decision that others may be too afraid to make. Hold your head high and don’t ever feel you have to apologise.
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