We have a family reunion at the end of the summer. My wife and I have decided to separate but have not told our kids. We are waiting until later in September when a few decisions have been made about where we will live and how we can arrange things the best way for our family. We want to get them settled in their schools first. How can I get through this family reunion? I have to go.
There are a number of ways to get through the reunion. You can go alone. You can go with your kids or you can all go. If the whole family goes it becomes a very challenging social gathering for you and your wife. Of the three options, everyone going would be the hardest and the most stressful.
You have made the decision to not inform anyone and that is your prerogative but a decision like that creates confusion and stress. It will be confusing for your kids when they are told and wonder why you withheld the information and stress for you and your wife as you get through all the social engagements over the next two months.
As for the reunion, given you have decided not to say anything to others, then do just that. If you go alone or with your kids, there’s really nothing beyond saying a simple sorry my wife couldn’t make it and carry on the conversation. Embellishing that simple statement is not necessary.
People will wonder but once conversation moves on to other things the stress of the immediate question is diffused.
You might find that when the truth does come out some family members take offence you didn’t confide in them. They need to respect it was your choice but they also care about you and probably feel they could have helped more.
It is an extremely difficult decision to end a marriage. Carrying this secret creates more stress within the family home. Something dramatic has changed and your children will sense it. It is a significant decision to withhold the separation information from them.
They will see the change of behaviour and the change in the way you and your wife interact with each other and know something is wrong. They are probably worried and afraid to ask.
As for all those post marriage decisions, some of them should be family decisions if your children are old enough. They often feel divorce is their fault so they need to be solidly assured the decision had nothing to do with them. Along with that, your children need to know that no matter what the future holds, they are loved and will always be safe and secure because you and your wife will make sure of that.
You are trying to do what you feel is best in this very difficult time but be prepared for something unplanned to happen.
An example would be one of your children, a sibling or friend asking about the state of your marriage. We often fool ourselves into believing that no one can see the workings of a relationship, but the reality is that most people in your circle can see.
Remember that others, your children and extended family are part of this change and will be part of the new future. Consider the possibility that you might change your mind about the timeline for informing family.
At any point you can open up to someone you trust. It might be comforting to have their emotional support.
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ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.