We’ve all seen those pictures on social media. Your friend’s son asks a girl to prom with a poster. A couple on a beach, wrapped in tulle (hopefully not your friends) announce the gender of their baby by cutting a cake and revealing blue or pink inside. But what do you do when your announcement is something less celebratory? Like a divorce. For a couple that is parting amicably, social media and the tried but true postal service can be useful tools for informing large numbers of friends and family that you’re divorcing.
What would Emily Post do? Her website notes that “the circumstances of separating and breaking off a marriage call for sensitivity, respect, and privacy.” Hmmmm. Maybe Ann Landers would be a proponent. She announced her divorce in 1975 very publicly in her advice column noting that “the lady with all the answers does not know the answer to this one.” If you aren’t familiar with Emily or Ann it might help to point out that “Dear Sugar” is also silent on the issue.
Whatever you choose there is no need to get into personal details about your marriage’s failure. Keep it classy. Let everyone know what’s going on, that you’re sad to see it end, that you’re still working with your ex to raise your kids, and leave it at that.
Some people prefer to wait until the divorce is finalized. It’s your call. But if you choose to announce your divorce prior to it being final you may want to run it by your attorney since social media updates are often used as evidence in divorce and child custody cases.
Whether your divorce is final or pending, it is common courtesy to discuss your announcement with your ex prior to posting. If you are not on speaking terms you should at least give them a heads up. Since you likely share many of the same friends, if you update your status before they are ready to tell their friends and family it will put you both in an awkward situation and potentially lead to discord. If you are on good terms consider making the announcement together. If possible try to work together to create a message that you both feel comfortable with to let your friends know you’re parting ways.
Here are two examples to use as a starting point:
“______ and I are no longer married. This has been a difficult process for both of us and we are thankful for the support of our friends, family and community in helping us through this.”
“_____ and I would like to jointly announce that we are getting divorced. We did not come to this decision lightly and we are working together to get through this. Our children are our priority at this time and we will continue to work in partnership to raise them with love. We genuinely wish the best for each other going forward.”
Or you may want to elaborate:
“As some of you are already aware, ______ and I have decided to divorce. We came to this decision after a lot of discussion, and we are both convinced it is the right thing to do for both of us. Unfortunately, there are just some very big incompatibilities between us, we want different things, and in the long run we cannot make each other happy.
We love each other very much, and we both love all of you. We do not have any anger at each other, and though we wish things had gone differently, we are not blaming each other. We are trying to support each other through this very difficult time, and we would like to ask that you do the same.”
This may be my favorite:
“_______ and I have separated. Relationships are complicated. This doesn’t make one of us a bad guy and the other a good guy. Still treat us both with kindness.”
Another strategy is to have both you and your ex post the same thing simultaneously:
“________ and I are getting a divorce. I wish only the best for ________. We ask for privacy and respect during this difficult time.”
Or combine it with another life event:
“Next [week] [month], my [kids] [fur babies] and I will be moving to ________. ________ and I have decided to go our separate ways. I will surely need the support of my friends and family in the coming months, as will [he] [she]. Please do not post “I’m sorry” only words of encouragement and strength for the process of moving on with life.”
The most important thing is to be sincere. Your announcement should reflect your personality.
If you or your ex are friends with clients or business colleagues on Facebook you may want to lay out some guidelines for communication like the example above or requesting that friends only respond via private message.
Be mindful that announcing your divorce out of the blue on social media can be controversial. There’s always one crazy aunt who will take you to the woodshed for forsaking your vows. Just brace yourself and be ready to ignore, delete or respond to those comments on your terms. After the initial high that often comes with receiving support and attention over a posting you will be left with a very public revelation about your life. Teens and tweens are particularly sensitive to what their parents post on social media. But if you are the parent of one I don’t need to remind you of that.
Photos like a picture of your hand minus your engagement ring are trending on Instagram. However, because of the limited text, Instagram can lack the nuance of Facebook. The expression “New Beginnings” can help impart feeling into a picture illustrating or symbolizing your divorce. You may want to ask a friend for their opinion before posting on Instagram to help you avoid anything that looks like you are trivializing your divorce.
A less millennial choice to announce your divorce is through a “We’ve Moved” or holiday card. You don’t need to spell things out in a “We’ve Moved” card. Your new address and your name, the names of your children or pets (and the absence of your spouse’s name) should be enough to get the point across. You can even include a phrase such as “New Beginnings, New Address” for your friend who isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. A holiday card has the added benefit of being aided by a picture in which you look good (really good) and your ex is conspicuously missing. There may be no explanation needed because as the saying goes – a picture is worth a thousand words.