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How to Tell Family You’re Getting a Divorce

Get some great insights on how to tell family you're getting a divorce

Tips for how to tell family you’re getting a divorce.

When you think about how to tell family you’re getting a divorce – including those friends who are as close as family, you may be feeling overwhelmed and filled with so many different emotions.  Your spouse may be someone your family and friends have grown to love during your relationship, and they may feel their own significant loss at the news of your divorce.  Divorce may be something your family and friends have not experienced and do not understand, or perhaps divorce is something that goes against their religious or moral beliefs.  While you may try to help them understand how this has come to be, if you are struggling with the news yourself, it will be difficult to help them understand any more than you do.  Here are some tips to help gently share the information with those you are close to.

  • Tell them at a time and place that allows for privacy. Dropping a Thanksgiving dinner bombshell is only good for the movies and tv, not in reality.  Whether you do it in person or on the phone, make sure all persons present for the conversation have space and time to listen, process and respond.
  • Be sensitive and aware that this is not just your divorce. Think of all of the people that were at your wedding, or who supported your romantic journey.  Every one of them can potentially feel a loss at the news.  I’m definitely NOT suggesting you call everyone that was at your wedding.  But the same way people cheered you on when you said “I do”, people will feel their own sense of sadness at the ending of your relationship.  (Unless they really dislike your ex.  Then there may be more cheering….)
  • Be aware of questioning and the motives behind it. There will be people wondering “how could this happen” because they are shocked and devastated.  And then there will be people asking that same thing because 1) they are now worried it could happen to them or 2) they just want some juicy gossip.  Be discerning with who you share details with and recognize that you don’t actually owe anyone an explanation for anything, other than your children.
  • Allow for time to pass before acceptance can take place. Maybe you and your spouse have been unhappy for years, so your divorce isn’t a surprise to you, but if you’ve been posting pictures on social media for years of how great things are, why would this news not be a shock to everyone?  Only you and your ex new what was going on during your relationship and the time leading up to the divorce, so don’t expect the news to not be a surprise and give some time for it to settle in.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you’re still in shock about your divorce and cannot imagine having the same conversation over and over again, tell the fewest number of people needed and give them permission to share the information with those you want to know.  This might look like you just telling your mom, and asking that she tell your father and siblings; telling your boss who can share with coworkers if appropriate; telling your best friend who can share with the others.  You do not need to be grieving your loss and also playing the part of news reporter.  Give yourself space to grieve privately if that is what feels right for you.


There’s no right way for how to tell family you’re getting a divorce.  You know yourself best and should approach the conversation in the way that best supports what you need at this time. Using these tips can help you think ahead to how best to manage sharing your news, reactions and how you can move forward in a way that’s best for you.


If you enjoyed this article, learn about how to talk to your kids about divorce here.