It can happen to the best of us, and it happened to Fergie and Josh. Just recently, the couple announced that after eight years of marriage, they are divorcing. In Hollywood circles, Fergie, lead singer for the Black Eyed Peas, and Josh, a TV and movie actor famous for his leading roles in the films “Life As We Know It” and “Transformers” are far from an anomaly. However, the way the Duhamels chose to handle disclosing their big announcement to the public makes them exactly that. Parents to 4-year-old Axyl Jack, the Fergie, 42, and Josh, 44, decided to keep their split, which happened earlier this year, under wraps until they were ready to reveal it. In a statement to “People,” the couple said:
“With absolute love and respect, we decided to separate as a couple earlier this year. To give our family the best opportunity to adjust, we wanted to keep this a private matter before sharing it with the public. We are and will always be united in our support of each other and family.”
Commendable actions, particularly given how the divorces between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as well as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner continue to play out in the media so publicly. That said, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with the average couple who doesn’t live their lives the open the way movie stars and those in the music industry do. The answer is a lot.
Although it may not seem like it at first glance, all of us, to a certain degree, live our lives out in the open. Once we go to work, drop our children off at school, meet a friend for lunch, or venture outside, we share a piece of ourselves with the world. What that does, often without us even realizing, is set us up for judgment from others who may or may not know the full details of our situation but want to weigh in any event. Whether it is to our faces or behind our backs, words can hurt us. And if we are not feeling strong enough to handle what people say about us or how they treat us based on the limited information they hear, the effects can range anywhere from hurt to devastation.
No matter how strong your relationship is with a soon-to-be ex, how amicable your divorce may be, and the level of confidence you place in yourself that you will be able to protect your family from any additional hurt from outsiders, it is better to begin healing your wounds first. Divorce is a lot to adjust to, both for the couple and their children. Everyone has needs that must be tended to, and the manner in which that occurs will differ based on the individual and their age. Likely, you will not know what those issues are until you are facing them head on, and the best way to do this is in the privacy of your home, not in a fishbowl, i.e., your workplace, school, or playgroup. In other words, focus on your and your family’s needs first before telling strangers.
Now, to be clear, I am in no way advocating that you keep your divorce a secret. By all means, confide in trusted family, friends, and professionals, including a therapist and a divorce lawyer. As someone who counsels couples about relationships, both before and after marriage, I am the first to say you cannot do this all on your own nor should you have to. Instead, disclose the details of your divorce carefully and sparingly until you and your children are in a position to withstand even the most well-meaning and innocent questions from those who may not understand what you are experiencing. Divorce may have temporarily leveled you but, remember, strength comes from within. So build your post-divorce life on a solid foundation. If you do, you will have nowhere to go but up.