Separating from your spouse is difficult, but it can be even more so without the support of family and friends. Unfortunately, because spouses often share friendships, things can get dicey. Explaining your decision to separate to the people in your life can be uncomfortable and awkward. If you are in the midst of a separation and feel you are ready to share the news with your friends and family, here is what you should know.
Prepare for a Variety of Reactions
People react to news about a separation in unexpected ways. What you think might be a response from someone could be completely opposite of what actually occurs. Try not to have too many expectations when it comes to how people will react to your news. They could be supportive, judgmental, or even shocked when they learn of your separation. The important thing is to feel confident about your decision before sharing it with anyone in your life.
Some couples share the information with friends and family together, but if your separation is contentious, you’re better off telling people separately. When the decision is mutual, it can help friends and family to see you both together, sharing the information, and feeling comfortable with the decision.
Pay Attention to Timing
Knowing when to share information about your separation can be a challenge. For those closest to you, tell them as soon as possible. This means they will be able to support you during the transition. When it comes to acquaintances and more distant family members, you are better off waiting until the separation is more definite.
When it comes to telling your kids about your separation, you need to tread carefully. If both you and your spouse believe it is a very temporary separation, you might keep the details to yourself. However, if the separation will affect the children and you are transition to a co-parenting situation, you should tell them as soon as possible.
It’s tough, but avoid blaming your spouse for the separation, even if you believe it is his or her fault. You can confide in one or two close friends or family members about your anger and frustration, but for the most part, you want to avoid bad-mouthing your spouse. There are a few reasons for this. First, you do not want to ask mutual friends to take sides. Second, should you choose to reconcile with your spouse, you do not want to create a scenario in which your loved ones harbor hard feelings.
Keep the Legal Details to Yourself
Depending on the phase of your separation, you might be working with an attorney and discussing a variety of sensitive issues. Keep as much of this between you, your spouse, and your respective attorneys. There is no reason why your friends and family need to know about the legal aspects of your changing relationship. You also do not need to hear the various opinions of everyone who has ever been through or known someone who has gone through “a situation just like yours.” Privacy is the key to maintaining your sanity during this difficult transition.
If In Doubt, Wait It Out
Couples often separate when they are unsure if divorce is in the cards. Though it might be impossible to keep your separation completely private, you should share as little as possible with friends and family until your decisions are more definite. If you have doubts about anything, keep them to yourself or speak to only one or two very close loved ones. Sharing your feelings and insecurities during this time can affect your relationship with your spouse and with other people in your life.
Managing your personal relationships as your marriage transitions is a challenge, but it can be done if you think things through carefully.