The idea of people speaking negatively about us is a huge source of shame for many. We all want to exist in the world thinking that we are well thought of, or at least neutrally thought of. Whether the negative thing is true or not, it’s obviously really unsettling.
One of the unique aspects of a marital relationship is that each spouse knows things about the other that no one else does. When vulnerabilities that are exposed in the times of greatest intimacy and closeness are used against someone, they may feel a loss of the trust that created the whole reason for marriage.
Unfortunately, divorce is problematic in its own way. It often gets used as a bombshell when talking to neighbors, and this can create feelings of tremendous isolation for the other person. I’ve seen people go to bed one night with a whole network of friends, and wake up blocked by all of them, across multiple platforms.
Sometimes, mutual friends can actually be great facilitators during the process of mediating a divorce, as a sort of in-between. Other times, friends are caught in the middle and used as sounding boards to air out the negative feelings of whichever spouse they are with at the moment.
One thing that few people realize is that when your ex bad-mouths you, they often reveal their own negative character traits instead of yours. Within the work environment, the gossiper is the one that is most at risk, because nobody really wants to hear that often sensationalized, quasi-true, shameful anecdote about their co-worker’s ex, especially if they are a substantive person themselves; it makes us cringe. Moreover, at work, superiors start to think their blabbermouth divorcing underling is using time and energy they should be channeling into their job to conduct glorified group therapy sessions, and consequently, they start scrutinizing their job performance more. I often say, “Chances are it’s more negatively impacting your spouse that they’re blabbing about you than it’s affecting you.”
That said, people are often still blocked from their regular friends and support systems. Across the board, I have seen people experience trouble functioning in the midst of a mass ghosting led by their soon-to-be ex-spouse.
Ultimately, the larger world is full of people who do have an element of common sense. If they feel they know you, and have a decent rapport with you, most people will be able to navigate the gossip.
In my next post, I’ll talk about the measures you can take, like confidentiality and NDA clauses, to protect yourself in an agreement.
Cheryl Stein, Esq.
The Law and Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 500
New York, NY 10151
Phone: (646) 884-2324