Q. My ex is venting on Facebook and it's opened a huge can of worms. Most of the things she is saying are gross exaggerations and I have mutual friends calling me up asking if what she is saying is true. Two of my friends' wives have told my friends they don't want me to hang out with them. I know I cheated, but is it really necessary to villainize me like this? My kids are young teens and read this stuff! What's good ex-etiquette?
A. In the past there have been rules referred to as "involuntary nondisparagement orders" that curb an angry ex from venting on social media. However, there was a recent finding in Massachusetts stating that this stance is unconstitutional.
But I am of the mind that just because something is legal doesn't necessarily mean it's the right thing to do. Your situation is a perfect example.
When it comes to ex-etiquette and co-parenting, all decisions are made with the children in mind. The first rule of good ex-etiquette for parents is, "Put your children first." They are the ones being hurt in all this, and if it is possible to keep the collateral damage to a minimum, then it's a parent's responsibility to do so. Granted, you cheated and most understand when a relationship breaks up when one of the partners cheats. But the question isn't to validate either parent's position, it's how will you protect your child from the fallout.
Venting on social media isn't the answer. So, after you do it your friends line up on your side. Big deal. That doesn't eliminate the hurt or humiliation. It doesn't take anything away, it just lays out all your dirty laundry for all to see -- and, if like you, your children are also your friends on social media, then they now see their parents completely out of control at a time they need order, security, love, and peace more than ever.
Not to mention their friends may also read it, which will cause them additional embarrassment, and you have placed yourself at the root of gossip, ridicule and judgment because you want to pay someone back for betraying you.
Anger during a breakup is normal. Our lives are turned upside-down and often it looks like the other doesn't even care what they have done.
In mediation when clients have faced this problem, I ask the partner who was cheated on exactly what they want from the person who cheated. The first answer most give is, "I wish it never happened." Pushing on, the next thing they want to see is sincere remorse. Not just an apology, but gut-wrenching remorse.
The goal isn't necessarily reconciliation, but an understanding of how their actions affected the people they love and who love them. So, I would start there, and if it doesn't slow down, check with the court in your county to see if there is something they can do.
That's good ex-etiquette.
(Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of "Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation," and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Email her at the Ex-Etiquette website www.exetiquette.com at email@example.com.)
(c)2020 Jann Blackstone
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.