It’s so much easier when you know what you want to say to friends and family.
THIS GUIDANCE DOES NOT APPLY TO DISCUSSIONS WITH YOUR CHILDREN.
A separate Life Line will address discussing your divorce with your children.
Every day you make decisions that affect your life. However, the divorce process will touch more people than just you and your children. Though you know that the people closest to you will support you through this time, letting them know that your marriage is over takes some thought and a little planning. For good or bad, you will wind up telling your story often. It’s why we recommend creating your divorce ‘elevator pitch’.
What is the ‘going forward’ elevator pitch? It is a short, concise, and REHEARSED explanation of the WHY of it all. Before we get to developing your elevator pitch, here are a few simple rules to follow:
- Sometimes we think we need to explain the entire situation to make people completely understand our actions. But in this situation, LESS IS MORE.
- Be honest but keep negative comments to yourself unless you are talking with a trusted friend / family member. This is extremely important especially if legal proceedings are not complete.
- Consider the relationship the person you are telling has with your ex-spouse. The closer the relationship, the less detail you should provide. Expect a greater reaction from these individuals.
- Have a go-to answer for areas you are not ready or willing to discuss. A simple statement such as “I’m not ready to talk about that right now,” usually suffices.
- Tell the person(s) you are most comfortable with first. If you get emotional or stumble the first few times, it’s easier to do so in a supportive environment. Hopefully, it will get easier as you repeat your story.
Building Your Pitch
Building your statement just takes a few quiet minutes to think through the three steps below (and time to refine as needed). We also recommend a few practice runs with the mirror and a few trusted folks before you communicate broadly.
Step 1: Lay the Groundwork
Set the focus for how you want people to see you and your divorce moving forward. No matter whether driven by you or your spouse, speak from a place of strength if only to reinforce that message for yourself. Tell the story of how you want the process to go. Similar to building personal goals, the more you write and speak about your ideal divorce, the more you can embody it.
“While a difficult time, we think this decision is best for us both. I’m doing my best to work through this in the most positive way for my children and me and really appreciate your respect and support.”
“We are at the end of our journey together and have to go our separate ways. I hope you will be there to support me through the process”.
Step 2: Define your Ask
A great way to move the conversation from the ‘Why?’ is to shift to ‘What’s next?’. Now is the time to tell them what part they can play if they want to help out. While this will depend on who you are talking to, think about a list of areas that you could use help and have them at the ready for these discussions.
Items can include everything from meal support to a play date (so you can have a night off) to a resource to help you fix a leaking pipe. Keep a short list of needs accessible so you can reference when you need it.
Step 3: Know your Close
Give yourself an exit for when you are done with the discussion. Sadly, people live off drama and may push further than you are willing to go. Use your go to answer for topics you don’t want to discuss but also have a few good lines to move on to the next conversation.
Statements like “Thank you for asking. How are you?” or “Speaking of family, how are your kids?” can swiftly move you to the next topic and give you a much needed breath.
Step 4 (As Needed): Refine
As the process moves forward, your pitch will likely need to change. As you work through major milestones, revisit your message to make sure it’s still aligned with where you are and where you want to be.