How Do You Tell People You're Divorcing?

I went to a friend's birthday dinner last night and had to drop the bomb on a bunch of friends that my H and I are getting divorced. Of course they all wanted to know why. I didn't mention the SM part, but it's hard to explain my situation easily---it's not like there was some catastrophic event. Everyone I've told is shocked beyond belief, so they really want an explanation. I can't bear the idea of having to explain it over and over again---I have a ton of friends and family and colleagues and it would be never-ending. At the same time, it seems weird to send out a mass email, though at least that would get it over with.

I really don't think my sex life is anyone's business.

Any suggestions for telling people as simply as possible? Should I send a mass email? Announce it on Facebook?

Any advice would be much appreciated!
nyartgal nyartgal
36-40, F
11 Responses Nov 18, 2012

You live in New York? People up there mind their own business and don't want details. If they inquire tell them this, "I'l forgive your rude and personal question because I know you care about me however, I prefer not to discuss these personal issues." Trust me, they will read through the lines/make inferences and no more will be said to you. That way everyone in the room will have an idea why you parted ways yet you will all be spared the embarrassment of the situation.

im going through the same thing! i dont know how to tell the rest of the world whats going on with me! and as u said, its no ones business to know about your sex life,,, do what i did,, people who are not even close to me just started to act like they know me forever! they asked me and i simply said, it was just not working out! and sorry i dont think you need to know about it!
of course i told my close friend and family about him but the rest dont need to now the details!! coz at the end it gets really tiring explaining it over and over again! i just got divorced like a week ago, and we were separated for 5months, he is 30 and im 26, and we used to have sex once every month!! if i get lucky twice!!! i'm not fat or ugly, and we were like that for a whole year!! and before all that we dated for three years, though we couldnt have much of sex coz he was busy with work and finishing his studies, but it was much better before we got married!!!

dear, just keep this in mind, you owe no one an explanation, things were not working out and thats it!!!
be strong , take care love xoxox

You be right about that. People be too much up in other's business ya know? I've never asked anyone why they were divorcing. Mamma taught me that was impolite to ask those types of questions. If the person wants ya to know than she/he will tell ya. I am not into this Oprah culture where everyone tells everyone everything.Some things I just don't wanna know k?

I think what you've written sounds perfect and I think the email is a fine idea. I'd be sure to bcc your ex so he has a heads-up on the "party line", and so that he knows that you are treating him kindly to family and friends. I would not write it collaboraively, issue a "joint" statement or tell him you are writing it before you send it.

Be prepared for some odd and unexpected responses...but their responses are their problem, not yours. As it was when we were telling people about DH'S cancer last year, it was awkward to tell people at first, then it got much easier.

One thing I'd like you to consider, though, is that in quiet moments with close, likeminded friends, consider sharing the sexlessness secret. There is so much shame those of us who have been refused may find sympathy and support that will help you heal. Also, we need to bear witness to the importance of sex to a marriage by striking down refuser-like comments and jokes, of which there are too many out there. We must be silent no more about this epidemic. (Refer to the group "I am a Member of the Sexless Liberation Front" aka the SLF)

Oh, I've told my parents and close friends about the sexless part----they were all HORRIFIED and every single one was like, "Holy ****! Eff that! You deserve better!" They couldn't believe that I put up with it for so long.

I'm not ashamed of it whatsoever---just don't feel like the rest of the world outside my inner circle needs to know that level of detail. :)

I agree...inner circle only gets details. I think I was just speaking to all about how we tend to tolerate jokes, quips, etc about "Wifey having a headache" and "I'd feel more like sex if he'd help around the house more" (notice, the joke is always on women...). Speak up and spread the gospel of good sex far and wide. It was a related topic for me; hope I didn't take us off topic.

I have not had the guts to tell ANYONE in my inner circle about the lack of sex - except one friend, who then told me SHE was withholding from her spouse.

I am still sooo ashamed.... it doesn't get better.

I suppose it depends on your inner circle. Zsuz...your mom? Mmmmmaybe not, based on what you've said. Believe it or not, I don't talk much about sex in real life; it just seems indiscreet to share. It was hard to tell my mom and my BFF, but when I did, I was met with nothing but empathy and support. What a relief! I wish you had someone in whom you can confide...then again, there's always us.

I agree. Share with those that you trust. The rest of the people just don't need to know. Besides, we tend to think that others are that wrapped up in our business. I'm just not hella interested in people's divorces, grandchildren, new babies etc unless it is someone close to me.

2 More Responses

You tell 'em, at least that's been my policy if directly asked. My experience was that not talking about this cr@p is one of the things that trapped me. You just state it, people will ask a couple of questions, some will be supportive, some will say something dumb. It'll get passed around as gossip in your social circle, and most people who care about you will end up hearing about it. It's not that weird or unusual after all. There's a fair number of marriages like this.<br />
<br />
Telling my dad was a fun one.

I posted about this in the summer, you can read it here:
Basically told our closest friends/family in person, then posted an email as written in the story above.

Best of luck!

Thanks, that's really helpful. Beautifully written, too. And your H's response? CLASSIC. It's all about him, all the time.

zsu - thanks for sharing this - the "tone" of your words is really good - I will be soon writing something similar.

<p>Of the people you dropped the word to last night, most of them would have forgotten about it once you left the room. There will be a handful who discussed it briefly over breakfast this morning, and it likely won't come up in their conversations for ages.</p><p>Your true friends (and there aren't actually all that many of them - this is not a reflection on you, if you have more than a handful of close confidantes you are unusual) are already supporting you.</p><p>Personally, I wouldn't be making any effort at all to advise every Tom **** and Harry of what is going on. What's the point ? They'll mouth the usual "Oh My God", in dramatic fashion, "Oh that's terrible", then "who do you reckon is going to win Australian Idol tonight ?"</p><p>Tread your own path.</p>

I'm not doing it for them, I'm doing it for me---so every time I run into a family member or a friend I don't have to deal with telling them and the inevitable fallout.

In fact, I do have quite a few true friends and people that love and support me. I'm sorry you have cause to be so cynical about the people in your life, but please don't project your disappointment on my relationships. The people I feel the desire to tell actually DO care about me, and so far everyone has been amazingly supportive, without exception.

You may be the exception but bazaar is right. If you have 5 friends that really care about you other than family that's pretty darn good. I've found as you get older you have many acquaintances but true friends are really few. Not cynical but the way it is. As far as what to say to people. My response when I got divorced was we grew apart. If people press you further I would question that they are really friends. I'd say they are just nosy!!!

Then I guess I'm doing fantastically well.

Baaz, you are right. Most people have the attention span of a two year old. They simply don't give a rat's butt about something unless it impacts them in some way.

1 More Response

Ok, I guess this is a two part question: part 1 is what to say, part 2 is how to deliver the message. After reading this blog post and the comments, I am thinking of sending a brief email to the friends and family I haven't already told. I told all my inner circle people in person.

I was going to say something like "We haven't been happy for a long time, and tried very hard to fix it, but we eventually came to the conclusion that we should go our separate ways." I was going to explain "I am emailing because as you know this is difficult news to share, and I really can't bear the idea of having 50 separate conversations about it or having to answer lots of questions. I would however appreciate your support and hope to see you soon." Maybe a little info about him moving back to the west coast, etc etc, Happy Thanksgiving.


Sounds wise. I would include a little bit about the plans each of you have - so that people know you are both "ok".

Sounds good to me. The private details are no one's business.

"We no longer want and need the same things. This is a very sad decision for us and I will appreciate your support."

Choose a statement that puts the responsibility onto them - because that will immediately deflect the issue from you to them! Also, MOST people (but be aware, not all) will be sad for you but very supportive.

If people press you, simply say something like "Ony the two people in a marriage know exactly what is happening" or " I respect my STBX too much too air our dirty laundry to others".

AVOID (except with your nearest and dearest) blaming, criticising or "outing" him. Behave with consideration and respect for his feelings - even if the dumbass does not return the favour!! In the long run, taking the high moral ground in these things stands YOU in the best stead. People who know you both will remember that you were dignified and respectful - and that he was an a**hole. THAT will affect their understanding of your divorce more than anything you can tell them!

BTW, you may be surprised how, after a while, many people actually confide in you that they don't know how you ever tolerated being married to him!!

Unfortunately there are always a few (friends and/or family who think they have a RIGHT to sit in moral judgement on you and your marriage. That is an INCORRECT assumption on their part- so don't let their negativity affect you. You may also find that the most critical ones are also the most unhappy in their OWN marriages. This tells you that they are actually jealous of your ability to do something they are failing to do - walk away from a dysfunctional relationship and live a better life themselves. So IGNORE their criticisms!!

Thanks, I definitely want to take the high road. I was just going to say something like "We haven't been happy for a long time, and tried very hard to fix it, but we eventually came to the conclusion that we should go our separate ways."

Sounds perfect to me!!

Excellent advice. I'll start referring to my Mr as STBX as well.

I agree with really depends on the audience. How about saying something like, "I have decided to seek a higher quality of life," for those closer to you. It tells the story without telling the story.

Luckily, most of the people I told didn't ask why. (Possibly because they could see it coming?) Only my mom knows the true whys...everyone else gets a whitewashed version of the whys. Your SM is no one else's business...unless you want it to be. Don't be afraid to say, "it's really not something I'm willing to discuss (with you)."

"we grew apart...." is noone's effing business. Why do people feel the need to issue a statement i.e. press conference thing?

i'll would respond that it is a mutual decision as you two have fallen out of love? or simply a mutual decision to move on, if they still ask answer the same way, they should get the drift and leave you alone.

They push..........just say, NOYFB! Some people can't take hints or make inferences. They need direct information. I call them folks with a social learning disability.