Telling Family and Friends about Separation

19 March 2019

Talking to FriendsPlanning the conversation about separation to our children is something people often take great care in doing. But what about telling friends, co-workers and family about our separation? Getting these conversations behind us is often an important part of the transition as well. And as difficult or awkward it might seem, it’s important to remember that one of the underlying truths to all of this is that family, friends and co-workers generally care about your wellbeing. They simply may not always know what to say or how to say it. So, let’s break the process down into some basic steps and get proactive about addressing this community.

How to Tell Family and Friends about Separation

The first step is to make a list of whom you want to tell in person and whom you are ok to tell over the phone or by email. Another important consideration is: will you tell friends together or separately? These days with active social media channels, just know that personal news can spread quickly. So that’s another reason why it makes sense to make a plan and take control. Think about a common message both of you can support. If you are both saying the same thing, there is less chance for drama.  Here are some ideas on what you could say:

Part A - Set the context:

“We hope all is well with everyone. We have some important news to share with you. While we would have wanted to tell you in person, we feel we want to be sure everyone learns of this at the same time. (You can personalize this message by inserting both of your names in place of ‘we’ as appropriate.)

Part B – Deliver the news:

We know this could be a big surprise to many of you, but after much heartfelt thought, we’re going to be separating. You likely have a lot of questions and that maybe you didn’t expect this, but know this decision wasn’t made lightly. Our goal is to remain amicable, and we are working with a mediator to help us through this transition.

Part C – Make the ask:

We both decided that we want to keep the details of our situation private. Also, we have committed to one another that we will never speak ill of the other person, particularly for the sake of our children. We ask that you do the same in trying not to speculate about our situation. We know you might have a lot of questions. So we are both asking that you give us time and space to work through the next stage. We know you want to support us through this, and we promise we will ask you if we need anything.”

From the hundreds of couples I’ve seen through our divorce mediation practice, there are many, many factors that lead to separation. But sharing those personal details with others can sometimes complicate things even more. If you both choose to communicate the same message that is truthful and yet respects your right to privacy, it can make things a lot easier and help get you on the road to a new life faster.