Saturday, January 19, 2008

Telling Your Family and Friends About Divorce

When and how do we tell our friends and family we're divorcing?

One of the things that I often hear from poeple when they divorce is not only do they lose their children, lose their home, their money, but they've also lost extended family, they've lost friendship networks, they've lost social circles, they've lost the church. People compete for these things. What happens is, it depends a great deal on how they've told people, what they've told, how involved they've gotten the community in their divorce. I recommend that people do not involve their community in divorce. That They keep their secrets private they keep their private and personal reasons for divorcing, just that. That they don't go out and discuss that my wife had an affair, my husband had an affair, he was embezzling, he slept with his secretary, he tried to rape me. These things are not important to tell anybody, except for the immediate people in the divorce.

How do we encourage people to not take sides in our divorce?

Family and friends won't take sides in divorce if you don't ask them to. They'll only take the sides if you demand it. For example, if you say, "Don't invite John to the birthday party. Don't invite John to the wedding because he's going to bring that girlfriend." Once you do that, you are affecting his relationship with everyone else. So if you don't want to do that, all you have to do is not involve him in the process.

What if family or friends take my spouse's side during our divorce?

It's essential that you don't get all your family and friends involved in your divorce. If you do, they're going to take sides, and when they take sides, one of you is going to feel left out and extricated from the community. In order to not involve others, remember that you don't have to share the causes and reasons behind your divorce with your friends, family and people you meet. You really have to share those things with the people who are important and that is the professionals involved in the divorce case. Maybe speak to a trusted friend that you can confide in. Often divorcing couples complain that they lost friends and community in divorce and that's because they divide and conquer. If you want to stay friends, you actually have to make an effort as a single person as opposed to a married couple. Often, single people lose a couple of friends following a divorce, and that's very typical, so you have to build a new friendship network. You have to find new friends, churches, temples, etc. You have to go out with people and re-establish yourself in the world. After a divorce, you have to get out there and not hibernate and isolate yourself.
How can I maintain relationships with my spouse's family during the divorce?
You have little choice about maintaining relations with your spouse's family during a divorce, if they're taking sides against you. You can try to sit down and say, "Look, I'm glad to talk with you. You can ask me any questions you want. I'm not going to give you details, but if you need to clear something up, I'll try to explain my behavior." You may need to accept that losing your spouse's family is going to be one of the consequences of divorce. You may lose extended family. Your brother-in-law whom you were so close to may feel an allegiance to his sister, and so you may lose that relationship. That is just going to be the reality of divorce.

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