Keeping Extended Family Close through Separation
Being mindful that your divorce may invite friends and immediate family to pick sides or disappear from the fray, it doesn’t need to be that way for extended family.
- Fence the conflict in and you’ll keep it away from relatives you want to keep close. Maintaining personal boundaries honor and respect the friendship you’ve developed and nourished over the years. The pain and loss of your marriage is between you and your spouse. Flinging disparaging remarks, dredging up old arguments, retelling stories about the rough times are best for your private journals – best offline – and away from supportive family.
- Universal rules: Privacy rules extend to all members in and outside the family sphere.
- Sharing business interests / ownership: The business partnership with its overarching commercial interests may require a constructive conversation away from work to confirm fences are in place. Developing privacy policies applicable to all employees ensures the inviolability of the workplace from private domestic issues.
- Silence isn’t always rejection: Take the first opportunity to sincerely express your positive intentions to each extended family member cementing the wish for a continued relationship and offer gratitude for this luxury.
- Grandparents yearn for involvement in the children’s lives. Fearful of being losing precious time with the young ones may also be sending an indirect message to the children. Grandparents share valuable life experiences and that mentoring for children in this period of turmoil ought to be promoted and encouraged.
- Perpetuate the celebrations! All of them! The birthdays and religious events, kids’ graduations and weddings, annual family gatherings~ the whole calendar! Make sure you send a ‘save the date’ well in advance to keep the excitement and focus on the event. It sends the clear message that no matter what you may be going through, you’ve kept your eye on the value of special kinship.
- Time heals: Those of us who have experienced grief and loss know that the pain dissipates over time. Sometimes the harsh words resurface and we pay particular attention to releasing that memory. Whether a relative wishes to reciprocate staying close to you during the aftermath of the separation is an individual choice. Give each person permission to process the circumstances as it affects them with whomever they wish and however they feel most comfortable to do so.
- Divorce is a transition: Its flow and effect is different for every person in every family. There are collaborative resolutions for parents who see the long vision and harsh battles for those entrenched in the fight. You come first. It’s your decision when in the transition you wish to secure or reintroduce relationships with each other’s family.