We’ve seen people in your shoes—a spouse announces they are leaning toward wanting a divorce—and makes 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 as 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 get informed. The spouse is furious for being made the bad guy for a marriage crisis. And people start taking sides. A third mistake is talking to a few of the wrong people.
At the top of 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 invite them to take care of you and maybe side with you. Wait a bit to see if your spouse wavers on the divorce idea.
And don’t talk to your spouse’s relatives and friends—that will feel like backstabbing.
So who should you talk to?
Ideally, just one or a few 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 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 can hold hope for your marriage.
So here’s our input: open up, don’t go through this crisis alone, but choose your confidants wisely. Your best confidant may be a marriage counselor trained in discernment counseling. They will be trained to do the things mentioned above and not start out with a particular bias (or you have the wrong therapist).
Tell them what you need—caring, support, constructive challenge, and a friend for you and your marriage.