Share upcoming divorce news on social media?
June 8, 2018 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to share a status update about my upcoming divorce on Facebook, but my (soon-to-be) ex-husband doesn't want me to. He said I could do it anyway, but it was clear he was unhappy about it. Should I? If so, when?

I separated from my husband a year ago after about 14 years of marriage. We have two kids. I initiated the separation and he was unhappy about it, but the process has been amicable. We are using a mediator rather than lawyers for the divorce, and it should be final this summer (I'm not sure of the exact timeline but it's moving ahead). It will be a no-contest divorce for irreconcilable differences (there were no affairs or abuse, etc). There is no possibility of reconciliation.

I use Facebook pretty heavily for personal and professional reasons, while his use is more casual. We are still Facebook "friends," though we rarely interact there. Last fall I asked about posting a short status update about our separation, and he didn't want to. He said he didn't want to post bad news there. I held off.

He and I are both dating now (other people, of course!). It's feeling awkward to me not to share the news on Facebook, which is where I share a lot of news (new job, award, kid news, etc). I've seen other folks make short announcements about divorces, and I think it's a good way to communicate with a large, loose network (which is what I have after living in several places throughout my life). I've also seen folks post selfies with new partners when I didn't know they were divorced, and that seems awkward to me. I'm trying to avoid a few things: having to tell lots of people individually and other people feeling awkward by presuming we are still married and making comments about it (this has already happened once).

I've communicated the divorce news via phone calls and emails to everyone I want to tell personally, and I believe he has, too. I raised the issue again with him within the past week; I even proposed some very gentle and respectful wording after looking at lots of examples online. He said he doesn't like that I would tell people on his behalf (meaning, our mutual friends), but he doesn't want to contact more people, either. Basically, he's fine with people just not knowing. I offered the option of making sure he didn't see the post (through a Facebook restriction feature) but that didn't help, either.

So he's not objecting to my wording, or to my timing, or to seeing the post, but the whole idea of communicating this news via Facebook. He told me this week that he didn't like it, but I could do it anyway.

A friend suggested waiting until the divorce was final. I doubt that will make a difference to him.

Should I respect his wishes and not share the news this way? Or share it as he said I could? And when should I do that, now or when the divorce is final?

Please presume I have wording that is extraordinarily respectful and graceful to him, our kids, and me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total)
Given his objection, and the fact that you have kids, I wouldn't. Even if the divorce is amicable now, it could turn acrimonious at any point and you don't want any custody disputes. Maybe see if he's okay with changing your relationship status to single WITHOUT having it post to your feed.

Ordinarily I'd say fuck him, this is too controlling (which is exactly what I said to my ex when he wanted to include a "no social media" clause in our divorce agreement), but the presence of children makes me more cautious about upsetting the apple cart.
posted by AFABulous at 1:16 PM on June 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

You don’t need his permission. I think a respectful post can be classy and reasonable. At the point at which you’re dating other people, you definitely are not in the “give me my privacy in this difficult time” part of the divorce.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:17 PM on June 8, 2018 [14 favorites]

I have been taken aback more than once by images of people out with other people not their (in my mind) spouses, and I've also had to click around more than once trying to figure out if a woman who changed the name she's using on Facebook had gotten divorced or not (sometimes yes, sometimes no!). You can spare people that awkwardness. A very brief, reserved, dignified announcement would not be inappropriate.
posted by praemunire at 1:18 PM on June 8, 2018 [21 favorites]

It’s hard to give a definitive answer to this, but from my perspective: this is an appropriate use of Facebook, and there’s no reason outside of his objections not to do it now, but since the divorce is nearly finalized, I’d personally wait until then out of kindness. Once the divorce is final, it’s silly not to tell your Facebook friends, and you should do so immediately.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:19 PM on June 8, 2018 [10 favorites]

If the important people have been told, I have a hard time understanding why the Facebook people need to hear about it. Honestly, it seems like an odd thing to do to me, but you say it isn't so I believe you, and believe that you have good wording. But, it just seems unnecessary, especially if he's uncomfortable with it, and an easy thing for you to do for him to foster goodwill between you. People will figure it out.
posted by Gnella at 1:20 PM on June 8, 2018 [37 favorites]

What about a middle ground - a private message to those you think should know that are on Facebook addressing that your divorce is final, amicable, and you won't be posting it publicly but thought they should know? Seems to accomplish the same goal without the angst.
posted by notorious medium at 1:22 PM on June 8, 2018 [9 favorites]

My husband & his ex didn't make a "public" (social media) announcement, and when we started dating (2 years post-divorce proceedings) a surprising (to both of us) number of people thought that he was cheating on the ex-wife (not knowing they were divorced or even separated) with me. In my experience, having seen graceful, kind public statements of this kind from other couples, I think it's a pro-social way to go. It also invites additional support, which your husband might find he quite appreciates once it's "out there". Speaking as wife #2, I personally felt awful for my husband when we were dating, who got a lot of nasty looks when we were out together (and I got a few myself, although not from anyone I knew well, just mutual friends - obviously not terribly close ones - of the two of them).
posted by pammeke at 1:23 PM on June 8, 2018 [15 favorites]

You can do whatever you want, but when i see such personal things on facebook it comes across as cheesy and self-important. There's a bigger world out there and maybe the way to connect to it isn't to make a big public announcement about you and his private demise.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:23 PM on June 8, 2018 [49 favorites]

It's always awkward to let people know that your long-term relationship has fallen apart. There's no great way to do it. You still have to do it eventually, or it will keep getting dredged up in uncomfortable ways, whether you tell people on Facebook or otherwise. I don't know exactly what your ex thinks your alternatives are--people keep thinking you're married indefinitely? It's just not a reasonable request.

Just keep it as low-drama as possible. "Hey, have realized some people weren't aware, so--So-and-so and I split up a while ago now," or something. It doesn't need to involve details about where you are in the actual paperwork or what happened or even when. I don't see any reason to wait until the paperwork is final because the breakup is already final, and that's the thing people care about knowing, not, like, the legal status of your assets and how you're going to file your taxes.
posted by Sequence at 1:32 PM on June 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

I have had several friends go through a divorce and reading between the lines on Facebook is super frustrating. You end up with people "talking behind your back" which is, in my opinion, not the way to go and can ultimately be more alienating. Only letting your "community" know about things which are happy-happy-all-the-time is not a true reflection of your life. A couple that I knew that publicly announced their divorce along with the particulars similar to your message: "We are amicable and will be co-parenting and you will likely see us at events together but we are parting and if you have any questions, please private message me or [Ex]. Thanks for your support, all of you." That enabled folks to stay friended to both of them and to not be curious gossipers on backchannels. This couple did delete one or two comments that were overly judgmental, gently corrected a few others and then moved on with their lives.
posted by amanda at 1:33 PM on June 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

I think it’s appropriate, but not worth it if it’ll harm your co-parenting relationship.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:34 PM on June 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I hate appearing in social media, and I also hate sharing negative news with people. When I was getting a divorce, my now-ex wife wanted to share information on facebook and I did not like the idea. That was a few weeks after the separation, though, and I didn't want her to share because it was taking a while for me to work up the nerve to individually tell each of my acquaintances what was going on. A year is plenty of time for him to have gone through this process; asking to control your communications at this point is unreasonable.
posted by agentofselection at 1:35 PM on June 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Old fashion me is convinced that personal stuff should stay far away from social media. I don’t see the point im volunteering information to public companies that are already VERY successful in selling its users’ personal data to advertisers. Why does Mark Zuckerberg need to know?
posted by Kwadeng at 1:35 PM on June 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

I've seen tasteful posts from friends on Facebook announcing their divorces, and I thought it was a fine way to do it. Close friends, I would hope to hear something more personal first, but for casual friends or acquaintances, it's useful. I suppose it's usually none of my business, but I appreciate knowing when people are going through big changes in their lives. People like my kids' classmates' parents or old neighbors who I run into once in a great while, where it's nice to know ahead of time so I don't ask "Do you and Husband have any plans for this summer?" and then the person has to go through telling me stuff at a time when maybe they just wanted to have a friendly two-minute chat.

I've also seen it done poorly, with bitterness or gloating. Don't do that. But it sounds like you wouldn't, anyway.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:36 PM on June 8, 2018

My family (outside of my parents and brother) and many of my not-immediate friends found out about my divorce from a Facebook post my ex made. It made for some awkward conversations, for sure, because even though I initiated the split, I'm a very private person and wasn't yet comfortable talking about it beyond my most intimate circles.

However, I didn't (and still don't) hold that against her. She needed to move on from our marriage in her way, just as I had to move on in mine - hers was much more open than, and very different from, mine. Which, come to think of it, is why we split in a nutshell anyway.

So I say you do you.
posted by okayokayigive at 1:37 PM on June 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

If he's out in the world dating, he has already effectively put it out in the world that you two are getting divorced.

I don't see an issue with posting. He's had plenty of time, you've been patient, and in dating, he's already advertised it himself.

If his issue is with it being on facebook, well, this is how you communicate with your friends, and if it's not his preferred mode, he can do it his way when he wants to tell people. (Which he's already doing.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:45 PM on June 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

The classiest way to put it on FB is with the smallest possible footprint. Short short short. While it is nice not to visit someone you care about's FB feed and get slapped with a "Who the heck is that person?" moment when they post pics with their post-divorce people, it's also uncomfortable to read someone's "Looking forward to entering a new phase in my life"/"All things must end"/"We will still stay friends as we co-parent our children" confessional in between guac recipes and memes about cats.

Say something if you want, but make it as mercifully short and vague as possible while still conveying the essential information that a divorce is happening/has happened. Deal with any questions via private messages.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:00 PM on June 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

I quietly changed my relationship status to Divorced, without broadcasting the change to my feed or making a separate post. Those who were curious about other posts I made were able to check and see the changed status.
posted by marteki at 2:08 PM on June 8, 2018 [40 favorites]

The best posts of this sort that I've seen had comments turned off. Keeps it from turning into "you're better off without him!"
posted by mollymayhem at 2:09 PM on June 8, 2018 [24 favorites]

Everyone uses FB differently, but in my opinion, this is what it's for: telling people you're not close with, but whom you care about, what's going on in your life. It keeps people informed and gives you more control over the story than if you let it spread via gossip.
posted by metasarah at 2:15 PM on June 8, 2018 [7 favorites]

I am a very private person with respect to social media, and I would frankly be livid if someone posted personal information about my life without my enthusiastic agreement, potentially triggering a bunch of people contacting me, potentially being broadcast to people I don't know, etc.

Certainly you can do it, but I don't think it's the kindest thing. I think marteki has the most elegant solution here.
posted by lalex at 2:21 PM on June 8, 2018 [16 favorites]

I hardly use FB, but I did use it for a lowkey announcement of my divorce. It seemed like exactly the right thing to do -- for your family and friends, your marital status is a public fact, not something that you have any obligation to your ex to be discreet about.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:24 PM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think you are well within your rights to make this post, but that unless it's really important to you it seems like not doing it is an easy way to spare yourself some ill-will from your ex. With kids involved, I would think really hard before doing anything that might make your relationship with your ex any more strained than it absolutely has to be. I would weigh that against the slight awkwardness it might create if some of your more distant friends were temporarily unsure of your marital status.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:27 PM on June 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

Do you have a friend (your friend only, not his friend on FB or IRL) who you could ask to post a message on your wall that says something like "Oh anonymous, I was so sorry to hear about your divorce! Let me know if I can do anything!"

That way the conversation would be opened, the news would be out there, but you wouldn't have been the one to post it, and he might not even see it. And if he confronted you, then you would be able to point out that your friend did it and you have no control over that person's actions.

Sneaky, yes, but you really don't owe him anything at this point and he doesn't get to control how you communicate with your friends. Not his business.
posted by mccxxiii at 2:35 PM on June 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

I guess it really depends on how you and your community use Facebook because I'm shocked anyone thinks this would be bad or weird, so much so that I worry my advice is wrong. So, take it with many grains of salt, but I think a short, "FYI Mr Anonymous and I are separated and seeing other people now. Just wanted to avoid the awkward "wait what's happening" the first time we each post photos with our significant others..hah!" and close comments. I am with a few others who said that friends NOT posting about the divorce was even more awkward, as we all had to figure out wtf was going on based on photos alone, which was confusing for a while, multiple times. I think it's sort of like when people wait a long time, past the pregnancy being visible, to announce that a child is forthcoming. Yeah, we figured it out, so why are you still not saying anything aggghhh!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:42 PM on June 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

There's also an issue of courtesy to your current partners, if anything gets serious. If you've made a broad announcement, then anyone who appears in pictures well after the announcement probably gets the presumption that they're a post-marital relationship rather than an affair surfacing. If the news of the divorce drifts gradually out because people deduce it from seeing you with other people, there's a good shot your new partner gets pegged as a homewrecker. This might not be an issue for you or for them, but I think it's a consideration.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:50 PM on June 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

Personally, I don't think you should feel obligated to post the details of your personal life to every person you've friended on Facebook. Why make a social announcement to spare other people feeling awkward about not knowing what's happening in your personal life? Don't the feelings that matter the most belong to the two people involved? Yours, his, and (of course), your children's? IMHO, you two are the priority here. To everyone else (with the exception of close friends and family), your news is just gossip.

LizardBreath has a very good point, though - it is awkward for your new relationship.

My vote is for marteki's solution - keep it quiet and classy. Change the status, meet your ex halfway, and leave it at that.
posted by onecircleaday at 3:03 PM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I would wait until it is final and then just change your status and not say anything. This is not something you want people liking and commenting on.
posted by trbrts at 3:19 PM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

one of the great things about breaking up with somebody is that they don't get to tell you what to do anymore
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:23 PM on June 8, 2018 [16 favorites]

I posted "X and I are getting divorced. Now you all know at once. Thank you for not asking any questions." There were some low-key "sorry to hear it" replies and messages and then everyone got on with their lives.

- I did break it to immediate family before posting
- we were 100% absolutely getting divorced (I would not have done this for a separation or anything less final)
posted by Flannery Culp at 3:35 PM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'd like to share a status update about my upcoming divorce on Facebook

Then you should. You're in the process of moving apart from someone else, amicably, and part of the final steps in separation is reclaiming the ability to do what feels right for you - without needing to consult. You noted that you have respectful wording prepared - I think that's all that you need.
posted by VioletU at 3:37 PM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

> Personally, I don't think you should feel obligated to post the details of your personal life to every person you've friended on Facebook

It's possible to limit who sees the post. Don't post it to, say, people you know from your bowling league, but do post it to people you know from your book group. (Or vice versa. I don't know what your bowling league is like.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:49 PM on June 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

It is easy for social media stuff to escalate and turn an amicable divorce into a hostile one. People come in with questions, you don’t like each other’s answers, friends start taking sides. Even when you start in good faith like this, it’s not worth the risk.
posted by w0mbat at 3:56 PM on June 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

Flannery Culp's script seems very good to me (with turning off comments). Whether you are married or divorced is just not private information. Also, if I were dating someone who'd just gotten divorced but was trying to keep it hush-hush without some compelling additional reason, I'd be extremely weirded out and would probably not continue.
posted by praemunire at 3:58 PM on June 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think you’ve already given your ex plenty wide berth on this. I found out my ex posted ‘divorced!’ on Facebook when my phone started blowing up with questions from people who had no clue we had started down that road.
posted by Doc_Sock at 4:58 PM on June 8, 2018

Yes, I think a name change/status change is sufficient and discreet enough that people will understand it and if they’re nosy enough to want to know more, they can contact you but it doesn’t invite their opinions. I also agree with the posters that say it’s quite jarring or confusing to see people with new partners without knowing they’ve actually been divorced or separated.

I understand that your ex may not want it broadcast to the world which is his preference but it’s your life too. You also don’t want to put the wrong impression out of impropriety or whatever if someone sees a photo of you and your new flame and doesn’t know the whole picture.
posted by Jubey at 5:12 PM on June 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

How old are the kids? If we're talking toddlers that's one thing. If they're old enough that their peers are using social media, prepare for the public disclosure of a private incident to bring on bullying.

I think changing your status to single and changing your name would send the same message and be classier. If you do decide to post, at least turn off the comments.
posted by schroedinger at 5:42 PM on June 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't know exactly what your ex thinks your alternatives are--people keep thinking you're married indefinitely? It's just not a reasonable request.

Back in the olden days when I had my two divorces, you told family and close friends in person, then they told two people,

and so on
and so on and so on
and so on and so on and so on and so on...

You'd still run into the occasional acquaintance who'd ask "so how's Charlie?" and you'd say in a slightly regretful tone of voice "we split up last year" and they'd say "oh, I'm so sorry to hear" and you'd say "it's fine, we're both fine, yes the kids are fine" and then you'd change the subject. No big.

If you do decide to post a brief announcement on Facebook, I like the suggestion to turn off comments. You might also include a brief FAQ such as:

1. I'm fine
2. the kids are still adjusting but basically ok
3. the divorce has been amicable, we remain friends and cooperative co-parents
4. we've both started dating again, please don't be concerned if you should see one of us out with someone
5. I don't want or need to talk about it but if you have any questions please message me.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:59 PM on June 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I guess I don’t get the issue here the divorce a secret? To me this seems like basic demographic information for people who know you.

I agree that gloating isn’t good and turning comments off is a great idea but...what’s the alternative, being divorced but staying “Facebook married”?
posted by warriorqueen at 5:59 PM on June 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think this really depends on how you use Facebook, and I would absolutely support doing what you want to do. FB for me is where my friends are, and we post substantial updates and not all shiny-happy stuff, and it would feel like I was lying to people if I didn't mention something so big. I know that other people use FB much more superficially, and that's not wrong, but it's also not wrong to keep using it at a deeper level if you have been.
posted by lazuli at 7:33 PM on June 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Your soon to be ex husband has made his wishes clear; his latest "if you must" seems to me obviously more a matter of "I can't stop you" than "my position has changed."

My fiancee has a Facebook account and we had many long arguments about whether to inform the Facebook about our engagement. I would be horrified if she were to announce our divorce to the Facebook.

You'd still run into the occasional acquaintance who'd ask "so how's Charlie?" and you'd say in a slightly regretful tone of voice "we split up last year" and they'd say "oh, I'm so sorry to hear" and you'd say "it's fine, we're both fine, yes the kids are fine" and then you'd change the subject. No big.

+1. And if one doesn't see or call or write a person, or any mutual acquaintances of that person, why should he receive any updates about one's marriage?
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 9:12 PM on June 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Don't do this. It makes him uncomfortable, sad, exposed. I feel this kind of sharing as a visceral-level violation of my privacy. Of course you *can* do this, as he says. But I totally disagree with the "you broke up, do what you want" kind of stance to a long term spouse. (Especially because he's not trying to control something about YOU, it's about him just as much, and this is what he's uncomfortable with). This is the person you were married to for 14 years who you grew apart from, who you are going to co-parent with for a long time, he is the father of your children. I am sure you don't want to hurt him any more than he's hurting already, and from the sound of it, he is. So on the one hand, there are his feelings, which you have the power to spare, and even to show him that you do consider his feelings and will allow him some agency in how his news is circulated. And on the other hand, there are the feelings of acquaintances who might feel awkward seeing you dating without first knowing you're divorced - not your responsibility at all; and your own desire to have your status known quickly -- yes, it would be more convenient, but doesn't seem to have the emotional weight of your ex's feelings about his own info. Until a decade ago, people found other ways to spread this news. Most still do. Be kind in the ways you can be kind, this is one of them.
posted by nantucket at 9:26 PM on June 8, 2018 [15 favorites]

Keep in mind that with The Algorithm being the way it is, even if you do post, there will be a lot of people who won’t see it. There are definitely still people who will learn of your divorce by first seeing pictures of you and your new partner. That’s fine. I’ve learned of splits that way. I figured out what was going on pretty quick and was not offended.

With this in mind, I don’t think it is worth it. I also like marteki’s solution of changing you status, as being the most straight-forward and respectful approach.
posted by scantee at 5:14 AM on June 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Keep in mind that with The Algorithm being the way it is, even if you do post, there will be a lot of people who won’t see it.

This is a good point. You are much better off contacting people one-on-one privately if they really must know. There have been many times when I've only found out about a dear friend's Facebook posts because he told me in person. This is not going to be the one-and-done broadcast you think it will be.
posted by AFABulous at 6:44 AM on June 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Is one of his reasons that he uses Facebook as a professional? Maybe for a giant corporation that has rules? (Rules wouldn't apply to you after divorce is legal.)

Or does he just think the idea is gross?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:25 PM on June 9, 2018

I agree with nantucket re: honoring your ex's feelings over your acquaintances' feelings. If you feel strongly that you want to do it, at least wait till the divorce is finalized to avoid potential complications as others have mentioned.

Something worth thinking about: is there any chance he's reluctant because he hopes, deep down, that there's still a chance you two will reconcile?
posted by sunflower16 at 10:37 PM on June 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

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