Even in the most difficult of personal situations, courteous and considerate behaviour can help to reduce unnecessary animosity and distress.
Spreading the News
When announcing a divorce to friends and family, ensure that you are the one to spread the news – don’t let it permeate your social circle through gossip and innuendo.
Immediate family and close friends should be informed, wherever possible, in person. Other family and friends can then be contacted; an email or brief note can suffice. To counter any possible incredulity, it is always wise to state clearly that the divorce is a difficult decision and a last resort, and to stress that every possible effort has been made to save the marriage.
If children are involved, they will be the focus of many people’s concern, and it helps to demonstrate that they are also the number one priority, and that you are working hard to agree amicable arrangements.
Divorced people should be aware of the potential difficulties and embarrassment that their friends and relations may experience and should ensure that they are always flexible and accommodating.
Reactions to Divorce
The friends and family of a divorcing couple may need to employ extreme discretion and to master the art of being non-committal – especially if children are involved – even though their loyalties may naturally incline to one partner.
In socially compromising situations when, for example, you may be invited to an event by one of the ex-partners and feel that attending would be an act of disloyalty to the other partner, confront the problem directly. Talk to the people involved, explain your dilemma, and ask them what they would prefer you to do.
The engagement ring is an outright present given to the woman on the condition of marriage, and having met that condition, she is entitled to keep it even after the marriage’s dissolution. If the ring is a precious heirloom, handed down to the bridegroom, its return is entirely at the woman’s discretion.
Wedding presents are, of course, gifts to both parties. The best guide for distributing these goods after a divorce is to pay attention to their original provenance. If they emanate from the husband’s side of the family, then he may have first refusal, and vice versa.
Sending Invitations to Divorced Couples
If you are issuing invitations to a big occasion and want both ex-partners to attend, it is wise to enclose a note with the invitation explaining that the other partner has also been invited – especially if the divorce is recent and social relations have not normalised. When drawing up seating plans for a formal occasion you should respect the estrangement, and ensure that divorced couples are not seated together or in close proximity.