Some surprises are happily wonderful, like U.S. Army soldier Brent Mount, fresh out of Afghanistan, surprising his nine-year-old daughter1 at her Virginia school. Some surprises are best kept under wraps because the news is not welcome, like you wanting to divorce your wife. Try these suggestions for keeping the word from spreading until you have everything arranged as you need for a smooth, quiet divorce.
First Things First: It is Nobody’s Business
Keeping quiet about your intention to divorce begins with you. While you should seek counsel and advice from professionals, like family law attorneys, perhaps a religious figure, or a mental health professional, you really have no need to talk about your plans with family, friends, or acquaintances. Why do they need to know? What can they say that would help?
Whenever you are tempted to spill your guts or divulge your thoughts, consider how that could come back to haunt you. Would that moment of relief in talking to a bar buddy really be worth the turmoil you may cause? Would your golfing partner really have such sage advice that you should risk telling her or him?
Realize You Can’t Demand Change
The only person you can truly change is yourself. Talking about your wife to others will not change her, and neither will talking to her, if your marriage is to the point where divorce seems to be a healthy option. Hinting or broadly hypothesizing (“Asking for a friend”) is a terrible idea. It ruins the inner peace you will need and crave, says The Good Man Project.
Any attempt to talk to your wife, for example, to deliver ultimata or explain your reasons, will do little to move her toward you. Suppose you want to divorce because she is financially ruinous. Keep reminding yourself, the only person you can change is you; she will need to want to change, and using divorce as a threat or scare tactic is not helpful if she really has a problem with money. She will still spend, using your impending divorce as justification for her latest round of profligacy.
Quiet Allows Contemplation
Keeping your plans to yourself allows you to actually plan, rather than react impulsively. Consider any major undertaking — vacation, job search, home purchase — revisiting the steps and plans and searching for errors always pays off. Planning a divorce? Spend time outlining your path to freedom and re-examining your thought process.
As The Huffington Post puts it, keeping mum allows you to make mental mistakes you catch and correct yourself, like investigating joint liabilities and safeguarding your own privacy (passwords, individual accounts, and copies of financial and personal records).
Do Not Involve Your Children
Dr. Richard A. Warshak, psychologist and author, cautions against talking too freely about divorce and your wife with your children. Adults often confuse their own motives in wanting to share information with their children. This is especially true when an adult is feeling vulnerable, like before and after divorce. You can tell yourself you are talking to them for the children’s own good, but what you are really doing is unburdening yourself to innocent bystanders who still love their mother.
Why use your children as a free psychologist when you could keep your opinions about your wife to yourself, protect their world, and keep harmony in the house until they absolutely need to know? Talking to children about divorce is always difficult, but avoiding talking to them before you start the process is crucial to their psyches.
Avoid Telling Extended Family
Think your brother is a good confidante? Sure, he may be, but your sister-in-law is also friends with your wife, and the circle comes back around. Psychology Today boils it down into a simple stratagem: Be careful what you say.
Suppose, over a holiday get-together, you casually mention to an uncle that you have thought about divorcing your wife. Time passes; you have not filed. More time passes, and at the next family get-together, in front of everyone, Uncle Dave blurts out, “So, you divorced yet?” What have you gained? Nothing. What have you lost? Honor, trust, and respect among your own family.
Suppose, on the other hand, your family is thrilled you may seek a divorce. From the moment the news is out, they may make your life — and your wife’s — hell with their clear choosing of sides, their egging you on, their outright hostility toward her. You need none of that. Keep your lips shut and your head down as you seek your goal: a clean, quiet divorce.
Talk to Your Family Law Attorney
Take a tip from your lawyer: you pay for attorney-client privilege, which prohibits your lawyer from talking. Your attorney’s silence is your guide to your own silence. Listen to your family law attorney’s advice: be quiet!
Please quietly call 757-383-9184 to whisper to us at The Firm For Men. We promise to keep your news under wraps, and will uphold your rights as a Virginia man seeking a divorce. You may also contact us online, after which you will erase your browser history. You can also stop by our Virginia Beach offices, but drive by a couple of times to make sure you were not followed.