Tatler Experts' Corner: I'm initiating amicable divorce proceedings but I'm worried about what my social circle will think, what can I do?

Peter Dazeley

As part of the Tatler SOS Experts’ Corner, we delve into the subject of legal arrangements surrounding relationships. Here, mindset coach Nichole Farrow shares advice on how to manage friendships and social circles during a divorce.

When it comes to divorce, society and the media would have us believe that it is painful, traumatic, stressful, and expensive. As a result, many people go into a divorce expecting conflict and get exactly that. So, well done on aiming for an amicable divorce – this already puts you ahead.

Secondly, worrying about what others will think is completely normal. We are social, tribal creatures, being liked and accepted is hardwired into our DNA. Any situation that puts that at risk is bound to cause anxiety. The truth is your friends, family and wider social circle will judge you. Often this comes from their own perception and insecurities. It is not a reflection of you, and there are ways to handle this.

This is your divorce, you write the narrative

Despite what society would have us believe divorce is not a failure, nor does it have to be a blame game or an ending – especially if you have children. You are still a family just a different shape. This is your divorce, your life you can write the narrative and what it means. If you allow yourself to believe this you can create the life you want, be it with a respectful co-parent and happy children who thrive as a result or be as a single man/woman. A divorce done well is much healthier than an unhappy marriage for all involved.

Legacy of your marriage

In the same vein nothing builds success like succeeding. Often the ending of the marriage casts a shadow over what has gone before, especially for friends and family. They can remember your wedding and will have created happy memories, seeing you grow as people and potentially create amazing human beings that you would not be without. Your marriage is not something to regret but rather something to look back upon in a positive way, whatever happened you will have learnt so much. Be proud of your choices and what you achieved including this divorce will help you to move on with your life.

Accept you may lose friends

Not everyone will see your divorce as a positive thing and you may lose friends or disagree with family along the way (especially those who are married or friends with both of you). Divorce makes others reflect on their own relationships. This is not a reflection on you, you don’t need to take it personally. There are some people who will be in your life for life, there are others that are transient. That’s okay, as much as you will lose some people you will also gain others. It is part of life, accept it and move on.

Focus on what you can control

Divorce comes with a level of uncertainty that is uncomfortable and can leave us feeling out of control. Therefore, focusing on what you can control as opposed to what you can’t, will stand you in good stead. What others think of us is never in our control, remember this and you will do well – your thoughts, perception, behaviour and outcomes are the things which are within your gift.

Learn to value you yourself

Divorce is a big transformation that affects every area of your life. It is also an opportunity to redefine who you are and what you want. Take time to work on your own self-image by investing in yourself. When you have a confident self-image other people’s opinions have less impact.

Set boundaries

There are some people in our social circles who can have a detrimental effect on our well-being but who we can’t avoid, especially family. For these individuals it is a good idea to set boundaries, decide how much time to spend with them, the rules of engagement and what you are willing to accept. Always have a way to get out should you need to.

Get the right support

Having the right support network around you is key. No matter how amicable your divorce it is still an emotional rollercoaster. Friends and family who are supportive are important, but also having professional help from someone with an objective view who can support you and give you the right tools to look after yourself can really make a difference.

A successful divorce can be the best thing for some families when done together, fairly and with the right support. You, your family and your social circle will realise it is an evolution not an ending, and one you will end up stronger, happier, and more resilient as a result. There are real success stories out there such as Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Lenny Henry and Dawn French, Kate Winslett and Sam Mendes and you can be one of them.

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