"We're getting a divorce." When these words are announced, folks will have questions. You need answers — good ones that will stanch the flood of annoying queries that usually follows.
Face it. Divorce does not exist in a vacuum. It's not only you, your ex, and your kids. The paparazzi (the friends, family, acquaintances, and rubber neckers in your life) are all going to be affected. You can count on shifts in your relationships as folks try to weasel out the specifics and take sides. Many people are concerned. Many are saddened. Some are just plain rude. When you break the news, remember these three guidelines:
1. Don't make this into the Tales of the Arabian Nights. Be as brief as you can.
2. Avoid embellishment. Stick to the facts.
3. Be future-oriented, positive.
Once you cover the basics, have some quick responses at the ready. With a script of gracious and succinct comebacks, you will have an easier time dealing with the paparazzi in your life and speeding up your recovery. Try these thoughtful responses to the reactions you will likely encounter:
"I realize you may not agree with my decision, but I'm going to have a tough road ahead and I could use your support (if you have kids, add this) "to make it easier on the kids."
There will be those who will try to lay a guilt trip on you or place blame. While many people will immediately side with you, there will be those who will try to suggest you should "tough it out." Instead of being defensive or baring all the inner workings of your union, stop them in their tracks with a classy response.
"I know he has his faults, but he also has some good qualities or I wouldn't have married him in the first place. I'd like to move on."
A statement like this works wonders to fend off those who may think bashing your ex will somehow make you feel better. While hearing others make you out to be the hero in the marriage may fill you some temporary satisfaction, trust me, it will only keep you mired in negativity.
"There are multiple reasons that even I haven't fathomed. What I need right now is support, not answers to what went wrong"
The Dr. Phil types in your network of friends and family are sure to weigh in as though they have all the answers. These are the folks who analyze and try to fix your mess. Prepare yourself for comments like, "Jack is a workaholic; he's having an affair; his mother never liked you..." In response to their homespun solution, your response should be gracious, yet firm.
"Every marriage and every divorce is different."
Like battle scars, many divorced people enjoy telling their war stories — taking some pride in the "been there, done that" heroism of their split. There is something to be learned from those who have been divorced, but you need to be careful. These tales are often self-serving and can easily become overwhelming.
Many women would rather put themselves in front of a firing squad than go public with divorce news so they sit on the information indefinitely, which only makes it harder to deal with. One woman I interviewed while researching my book Your Child's Divorce: What to Expect ... What You Can Do told me she invented a yarn about her ex having a long-term assignment in Nairobi to avoid the fallout.
Bank on the supposition that someone is going to let the cat out of the bag. Be prepared.