Ex-Etiquette: Recommendations on Easing the Pain of a Broken Marriage

PSOW Staff - Monday, September 18, 2017

Contrary to the often-quoted statistic that over half of marriages end in divorce, researchers say the rate of divorce in the U.S. actually peaked at about 40% around 1980 and has been declining ever since. But for those couples that do go their separate ways, here are some things to consider that can make the process easier.

Announcing your new status: Your family and closest friends will probably already know about your divorce, but the ones that are hardest to tell are people like church members, neighbors, social clubs, or other parents. First of all, you don’t need to tell everyone. Wait until an organic moment arises that makes telling someone necessary, such as an invitation to a special event, where you can simply say, ‘Things have changed. My spouse and I are getting a divorce, so I’ll be coming alone.’ At work, you can simply tell your boss and close friends you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage—but remember you don’t need to go into details.

Respect: Remember that you married your former partner for a reason, and giving each other respect during a breakup will make things so much easier for both parties going forward—especially if you have children. Also, remember that respect means refraining from badmouthing your ex to your children, family or friends. You should also try not to hold grudges and use empathy when solving problems together.

Put your children first: Holiday concerts, plays, and other programs are a time to celebrate your child’s accomplishments, so it’s important for both parents to be in attendance. You don’t necessarily have to sit with your former spouse, but you should put on a good face and be cordial and remember that focusing on your shared love and support for your child can help everyone heal.

Who gets the friends?: As with a custody battle, many couples have had to duke it out over who gets to keep the good friends you both shared during your time together. But you shouldn’t have to cut these people out of your life if you and your partner divorce. Simply talking to the friends and stating your desire to remain in contact will do the trick because many people make incorrect assumptions in such cases. Also, talk to your ex and be honest and straightforward that you would like to maintain the friendships that you both shared during your relationship. But, don’t be surprised if some friends do take sides…and if they do, then you have your answer.

Holidays: The holidays are always awkward for the newly separated or divorced, but you can do some little things to announce your new status without drama. Just before the holidays you can put just your name and address on the cards you send, and sign them as yourself, or with your children, leaving your spouse’s name off. For close friends and family, you can add a note on your holiday letter that says, ‘Regretfully my spouse and I have decided to go our separate ways,’ and give the changed addresses and phone numbers.”

Go Back