Confiding in Friends and Family During a Divorce
A critical decision that must be made early in the process of separating and divorcing is with whom to share your story and legal details. When we are under extreme stress, sadness and anger we human beings often feel relief when we unburden ourselves by telling someone. This is understandable. Strategically, however, it is important to give a lot of thought to if, when and with whom you should share. Why?
In many marriages, one spouse is the cause of the divorce. Often, that person has engaged in behavior that would reflect poorly on them. Maybe the spouse has had an affair, used drugs, abused alcohol, engaged in excessive spending or been abusive. Human nature would typically lead the “injured” spouse to tell her/his friends and extended family all about the reasons for the divorce. Human nature typically leads our friends and family to want to share ( gossip) such information with others. And human nature would lead the “party at fault” to want to hide the information to protect their reputation. To share the facts may shame the wrong doer, which will usually then anger him or her. When someone is shamed for their actions, a very common reaction is to retaliate with anger. The worst time to negotiate for something you want is when the person you want something from is angry at you. Just about everyone going through a divorce and/or custody dispute will end up negotiating a settlement. Statistically, about 90% of all cases settle. It is in your best interest to create the best possible environment for settlement. If preventing your spouse from public or family shaming (as much as you may think he/she deserves it) creates that environment; that is good strategy.
Our Plano divorce lawyers advise against sharing with children. Sharing with children is almost always ill advised. Not only will the party at fault be shamed, and then angered, the children will be hurt by knowledge they may be too young to understand. Children know they are “part mom” and “part dad”. When a parent shares negative information about the other, children almost always feel bad about themselves and subconsciously at fault.
With whom can you share the hurtful information? Pick one or two trustworthy friends or close family members to confide all. Be careful that person understands the downside of shameful information getting out. And, tell your mental health professional. All people can all benefit from professional help to handle their emotions when going through something as intense as a divorce and/or custody dispute. With everyone else in your life, I might suggest simply asking them for their thoughts and prayers for you through this difficult time. Tell them that you don’t want to share all the details because doing so is stressful and painful for you and you know they understand.
This post was written by Angeline Lindley Bain.
“Realizing that divorce is a life-changing event, I focus on helping clients preserve their dignity, relationships and equilibrium through this transition. That’s especially important in long-term marriages, where the emotional and financial stakes can be high.” — Angie Bain