You don’t need to be a celebrity to have your relationship at the center of the conversation. From opinions on how you are raising your children to the health of your relationship, people inside and outside your family, close-knit friends, and community members may spend too much time talking about you when you are not around. But what happens when those seemingly casual conversations turn into rumors? Hearing rumors can affect our perception, making the untrue seem like a possibility or reinforcing the axiom, “where there is smoke, there is fire.” Being the focus of negative attention can be embarrassing and devastating, especially if your marriage is on shaky ground. Here are a few tips to help keep you out of the rumor mill.
Know who your friends are
Make sure the people you have surrounding you are the ones you can deeply trust. Most of the time, there is a lead-up for couples who ultimately split. Your trusted friends have spent quality time getting to know you both and have been privy to your tensions and blow-ups over the years. Even though they do not live with you, their advice and constant support are something you have relied on. This valuable group of advisors can relay negative things they have heard about you or your spouse without judgment or disdain and be an avenue in dispelling these rumors.
Take a break from social media
Social media is not the place to confront rumors or half-truths about your relationship. The best course of action is to avoid responding to rumors or gossip – just leave it. If you are going through a hard time or are just the target of idle chatter, it is best to not overcompensate by posting happy family pictures or sexy shots with you and your spouse. Those posts will most likely appear staged or ill-timed, leading to more negative chatter. Staying off social media is also good for your mental health; it will decrease your opportunities to get upset or even depressed because of posts and comments referring to you, your spouse, or close friends. It also makes it easier to take the high road, particularly if you have children. If you are not engaged in the online conversation, nothing can come back and work against you later. Taking a break does not mean you have to be entirely in the dark about the lifespan of the rumor. This is a good opportunity to tap into a trusted friend that you can go to for updates if needed.
Confront the rumormonger
If you discover the source of the rumor, or someone who keeps it alive when everyone else has let it go, you have every right to set the record straight during a direct, in-person conversation. There is no need to go into detail when facing the rumor kingpin. Instead, explain calmly that the information being talked about is incorrect and that you would appreciate it if they stopped spreading the negativity. The direct conversation does not guarantee that side conversations will stop immediately – addressing this head-on is best.
Stop The Negative Talk Yourself
For adults, starting or being responsible for rumors can significantly impact your marital relationship or the legal outcomes of a divorce. In my career, I have seen many truthful facts cited in divorce proceedings and recognized by the court. I’ve also seen things construed as defamation, going beyond “he said” / “she said.” These comments could lead to a valid civil suit against the other spouse and change the judgment of an allocation of assets, liability, custody, and the outcome of the case.
The bottom line is that rumors will likely exist during a divorce. It is essential to know some of this is out of your control but how you handle what you can control is up to you. Prioritize your life, and while people are putting hours in at the rumor mill, you are living the life they can only talk about.