I’m getting divorced after less than a month of marriage — and I won’t tell my gossipy mom why

Ever since Jules* announced she was getting divorced after her extremely brief marriage, her mom Sylvie* hasn’t stopped pressing her for information.

Writing into Slate’s Dear Prudence advice column, the recently divorced woman explained that she had been married to her husband for less than a month but “wanted out” due to “irreconcilable differences.”

The divorce dilemma

“I’ve moved in with a friend. I’m trying to get a place for myself, but I wasn’t financially prepared for this, and it’s tough. I know that my parents and family would love to give me a place to stay, help with attorney fees, and take care of me, but it comes with strings,” Jules says.

A woman is getting divorced and doesn’t want to tell her nosey mom. Getty Images

“My mom is the most gossipy person you can imagine. My cousin had an abortion: She was getting calls from opinionated aunts within six hours. My brother’s embarrassing penis surgery, an aunt’s firing: It’s all fair game. My dad got into a fender-bender: He was getting lectures from the entire extended family for weeks.”

Safe to say, Sylvie can’t keep a secret. The more private and personal the news, the faster it spreads.

So, it’s little wonder why Jules wants to keep the reasons for divorce private.

“The reasons make me look like an idiot for marrying him and him a much worse guy than he actually is,” she reveals, adding that the only person who knows the details is her attorney. 

“My mom is dying to know. I get constant texts and calls where she says she’s just checking in. She’s even sent our family to push me for information. My brother confided that she’s asked him to find out, and he made me promise not to tell him so he could avoid her. I’m exhausted and so over this, but my divorce could go on for months. How do I get through this? I’ve been ignoring her, ending calls when the topic comes up. But I have other things to worry about and I just want her to go away.”

The woman says her mom is an obsessive gossip.
The woman says her mom is an obsessive gossip. Getty Images

The advice

Prudence gave Jules some clear advice — she might not be able to change who her mom is, but she can take control of how she responds to her pushing for gossip. 

She advised: “The next time the topic comes up, you can tell her, ‘I know you’re dying for details, but reasons for the divorce are personal and I’m not going to discuss them. Just know that it was the right choice for both of us.’ And—this is the tough part—then accept that she is going to be spending a lot of time on the phone speculating with various relatives, because that’s how she is, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

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However, she also provided another possible course of action.

“The alternative, which might ultimately be even less stressful, would be to decide not to be ashamed of whatever the reason for the split was, tell the truth, and let people think whatever they want to think. If you’re already at “I want her to go away” status with your mom, do you really care if she thinks you’re an idiot? I can definitely see a world in which she gets a few bullet points of the information she craves, your family gets a group chat on the same thread where they discussed your aunt’s firing and your brother’s embarrassing surgery, and you get the financial support you need along with the freedom that comes with not caring what people might be saying about you.”

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