Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS
Who to bring in - And who not to bring in to your Potential Divorce
It's a conversation you never thought would be part of your story. It's a regular start or finish to your day when your spouse says they need to talk to you. Or perhaps you guys are in the midst of yet another nasty fight. It's at that moment your spouse announces they want a divorce. You can't believe your ears. Did your heart and head just hear that correctly? Is this for real. Does your spouse really want a divorce?
I've seen people in your shoes and I've been in your shoes. Your spouse announces they want a divorce and mistakes are made as it relates to bringing people into your story. Some common mistakes to avoid are:
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 Facebook gets told. The spouse is furious for being made to be the bad guy for a marriage crisis. And people start taking sides. Not only that but the lines start getting blurred with regards to people that care and are just curious and want to be in your business because it's the latest gossip. Not everyone has earned the right to your story and honestly not everyone can handle it.
A third mistake is talking to a few wrong people. Top on the list is your children—young or out of the house.
So, what do we need to do in times of marriage crisis? How do we navigate the unknown when swallowed by emotions and need the support of others to get through this very difficult season?
First, you need to let some dust settle before bringing anyone 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 your 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.
Opening up is good. We were created for connection and you shouldn't want to or expect to go through this marriage crisis alone. I know for me I had two women of faith, my parents and a couple that helped me navigate the most difficult of times during that season. They would feed me both spiritually and physically, tend to my children, encourage and support me. They allowed me to completely fall apart and helped me put the pieces together. They held me accountable and required healthy from me. I can say confidently if I didn't have them in my life the situation, experiences and emotions would have been crippling and negatively affected everything and my two boys.
You need to have confidants that are there to support you but you need to choose your confidants wisely. Tell them what you need—caring, support, constructive challenge, and a friend for you and your marriage. And if there's kids involved someone to both support you and assist you with the kids.
Yvette E. McDonald is the owner and counselor at Traveling Light Counseling, a practice for individuals, couples and families helping them discover the person/couple they were always meant to be, as they become the best version of self in their roles and relationships in the Port Saint Lucie and Martin County area. She specializes in all things relationship. Relationship with self, others and children.