Sunday, December 10, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Tell parents about your divorce but don't justify it to them

Q: I'm going home this weekend to tell my parents that my 2 ½-year "happy" marriage is ending in divorce, and I'm so anxious! We are a close family, but I kept a lot of my unhappiness secret from them. They saw the happy, young couple, not the couple that bickered and argued and held grudges.

How do I break this to them? I plan to mention that we went to lots of counseling and both feel at peace with restarting our lives before 30, but I feel I'm letting them down big time and know this will be a shock to them. Any tips?

Telling Parents

Carolyn: Yes. Repeat as needed, in your head, "I don't have to justify my life to my parents."

Answer their natural questions honestly and as fully (or tersely) as your comfort dictates, and recognize that people who love you will be sad for you, but don't "plan" your reveal around making this palatable to them. It's just not your job to live a life that serves their needs.

Anonymous: "You are not a failure; your marriage has failed." I think this is so important! I felt like such a failure over my divorce, but I wasn't a failure. I did make some bad decisions that led me to a bad marriage. But I've learned and won't make the same mistakes again!

Carolyn: Right! You'll make new ones! Presumably. And that's the best case: Even those of us who learn from our mistakes will also repeat some. This business of being human is basically a jalopy ride over potholes, which is why it's so important to ride with the best people you know, wherever possible, and to make sure you take note of any particularly beautiful scenery.

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