I’ve seen people in your shoes—a spouse announces a divorce—make a bunch of mistakes when it comes to talking with others.
One mistake is to not tell anyone, often out of shame or to avoid recognizing the threat at real. The result is isolation and stewing in one’s juices.
A second mistake is to tell the world. You’ve seen it: everyone at work, church, and the book club gets told. The spouse is furious for being made to be the bad guy for a marriage crisis. And people start taking sides.
A third mistake is talking to a few wrong people. Top on the list is your children—young or out of the house. Let some dust settle before bringing them in and churning them up. Make sure your emotions have stabilized first, or else you will be inviting them to take care of you, and maybe side with you. Wait a bit to see if you spouse wavers on the divorce idea. And don’t talk to your spouse’s relatives and friends—that will feel like back stabbing.
So who should you talk to? Ideally just one or a couple of very trusted friends or family members. Here are some criteria to use in choosing confidants:
• Someone who will listen and empathize but not take your side against your spouse.
• Someone who will be reluctant to give advice and prefers to help you sort out your own options.
• Someone who will not tell you to just accept the divorce as inevitable.
• Someone who shows compassion for your spouse and not just you.
• Someone who is positive about marriage (avoid marriage skeptics) and is able to hold hope for your marriage.
So here’s my input: open up, don’t go through this crisis alone, but choose your confidants wisely. Tell them what you need—caring, support, constructive challenge, and friend for you and your marriage.