Jackie, Why is it that when you are getting divorced, the other person–who claims to have loved you– airs every single bit of your dirty laundry to everyone?
When people are getting divorced, there are so many emotions they are experiencing, one of them being anger, which stems from being hurt. And, when people are hurt and angry, they naturally look for ways to soothe it, to cope, to make themselves feel better. Think about it. If you have a headache, you pop a Tylenol to make it go away. The same thing applies when we are hurting in any way.
One way someone might try to soothe his or her pain is talking to others. I remember, in the early days of my separation, I’d get together with friends, and the conversation would naturally be all about my recent breakup, because that was the big news. During those conversations, I would become both teary-eyed and outraged when telling stories of what was going on. It’s not attractive, but it’s reality.
But when does the conversation go to far? When people decide to reveal very personal things about their soon-to-be ex.
When a person airs their dirty laundry to everyone, they are basically crying out for help. Again, they want to soothe their pain. They want to vent. They want to let people know what a horrible, awful, cold-hearted jerk you are, what a weirdo you are, what a psycho you are, (not saying that any of these are true) but they do it because that helps them cope, and helps them justify that breaking up was the right thing to do.
They might say things like, he always had really bad breath, I won’t miss him clipping his toenails in bed, the sex was awful, she slept with tons of guys behind my back, he asked me to have a threesome, once etc. etc. Things that are even more personal than this can be revealed to others. It is basically a time when your personal life just went on national TV.
What the people don’t realize is, airing all the dirty laundry can create issues. First, what if the two of you reconcile? Now, everyone knows your personal life, and many secrets that you really don’t want them to know if you are back together. Secondly, I think airing someone’s dirty laundry is hitting way below the belt. No matter what he or she did, I think there should be an understanding of things that need to be kept between the two of you. In other words, it’s just really mean.
So, to answer your question, I’m really sorry you ex is doing this to you. I’m sure it is embarrassing and humiliating. But, she is the one who looks like the bad guy. I have to believe people are probably saying to themselves, “Why is she telling me this?” So, she probably looks kind of stupid.
My advice would be not to worry about things you can’t control. What she tells others about you is between her and them. You can’t stop her. Plus, her dirty laundry will be old news in a couple weeks, when another couple the people know announces their divorce. Sad, but true.
Also, don’t feel the need to pay her back by telling the people her deep, dark secrets. Don’t stoop to that level. You’ll just feel bad about yourself.
Best of luck with everything.
Michael C. Craven
Thank you for your article. I found this interesting.
-Michael C. Craven, Chicago Divorce Attorney