Who to Tell (and NOT Tell) About Your Potential Divorce

I’ve worked with people in your shoes. You want to announce to someone that you’re considering divorce because you need some support. It’s a difficult and highly emotional place to be, so let’s set some guidelines to avoid making mistakes.

One mistake is not telling anyone. When we do this, it’s often out of shame, or to avoid recognizing that the threat of divorce is real. The result is isolation and marinating in your heavy emotions.

A second mistake is to tell the world. You may have seen this– everyone at work, church, and the book club knows the scandalous story of someone’s divorce. The spouse is furious for being made out to be the bad guy, and the person talking loses control of the story. And people start taking sides.

A third mistake is talking to a few wrong people, namely your children. Whether they’re young or fully established on their own, let the dust settle before bringing them in and churning them up. Make sure your own emotions have stabilized first, or you’ll be inviting them to take care of you, and maybe even side with you. Make sure that the decision to divorce is completely set before letting the kids in. Another group to avoid is your spouse’s family and friends– that runs the risk of feeling like backstabbing.

So who should you talk to?

Ideally, just one or a couple of very trusted friends or family members. Here are some criteria for choosing healthy confidants:

  • Someone who will listen and empathize without taking sides
  • Someone who will avoid giving advice in preference of helping you sort out your own options
  • Someone who will not tell you to just accept the divorce as inevitable
  • Someone who shows compassion for both you and your spouse
  • Someone who is positive about marriage (i.e. not a general marriage skeptic) and is able to hold hope for your marriage.

So overall, you’re looking for a person or people with a well-balanced perspective. That will allow you to avoid going through this crisis alone, but you’re still choosing your confidants wisely. Tell them what you need– caring, support, constructive challenge, and a friend for you and your marriage.

If you’re struggling to find a person in your life who can offer you this balanced perspective, reach out to a discernment counselor in your area.

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