28 Sep
My Christmas Photo is Stressing Me Out!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My husband and I have been separated for a year and a half now. We do not have a formal agreement in place but are living apart. Last year I was ‘excused’ from sending out Christmas cards due to a death in the family.   This year I am at a loss at to what I should do. Not everyone knows about the separation (and I am making myself sick thinking about the gossip that will arise once everyone knows) but if I send out a card with myself and my kids, the cat will be out of the bag. Help!


Secretly Separated


Dear Secretly Separated,

I’m sorry for your separation. But I’m guessing that your “secret separation” is not so secret at all.   These things tend to get out and kids are not so fabulous at keeping their mouths shut.   Like the way my 4-year-old shouted yesterday in a crowded public restroom… “Mom, what’s taking you so long? Are you pooping? It smells like you are pooping.” No I’m not! Here’s my iPhone. Please stop screaming!

I’m sure by now your separation is old news and the ladies in the neighborhood are already gossiping about that middle aged mom who has been seen THREE times with that young handsome Starbucks barista. (She must really like coffee.) Plus, so what if they are talking about you? Maybe one of those chatty Cathys knows of an eligible bachelor a couple towns over that might be your future soul mate.

But if you are really trying to keep this under wraps with distant relatives and whoever else is on your Christmas list, just send a photo of your kids.   A lot of people do this because children are so much cuter than those of us who are age challenged and beginning to wrinkle and sag.   No one will think anything of it!

But you should not be ashamed of your separation. It sounds like you are doing what’s best for your family and yourself.

Good luck,

Kelcey, TMH

16 Responses to “My Christmas Photo is Stressing Me Out!”


Comment by Agent99.

Been there, done that. And lived to tell about it. It yet another milestone that drives home the loss of your marriage, and its painful. First, there were no audible gasps when the cards were received. In fact, letting go of my “secret” was a huge relief, and my friends were very supportive. Seriously, he was never in the photo anyway, so it wasn’t as obvious as it seemed to me in that moment. Next, continuing to do all the regular things you always did shows the kids that life goes on, and things will be OK. And they will be. It’s been years since that moment, and this year brings a new challenge….how do I get the new hubby, 4 kids and two dogs in one photo. Now that’s gonna hurt.

Cate8 Reply:

luv it….ya gotta tell about the divorce BEFORE you introduce the next ‘Mr. Right’


Comment by vodka tonic.

I see this less about a greeting card, and more about SS being afraid of what other’s think. Separated for a year and a half? Girlfriend needs to make a decision. You’re either in a marriage, or you’re not. SS is keeping herself legally, financially, emotionally, and spiritually tied to a man that’s physically out of the picture. I hope the advice you get today unsticks you from limbo land. It’s time to start living the rest of your life.

When I spilled the beans about my impending divorce, I think there was an audible sigh of relief from the peanut gallery, not a gasp. I think you’ve built this up to be much bigger than it really is. And if they do gossip, who gives a frack? It’ll burn out pretty quickly:

“SS is getting divorced. Look at her Xmas card.”
“Oh, that’s too bad.” -or- “Thank Jeebus!”
“I wonder what happened?”
“Probably the same things that cause just about every divorce.”


Kelcey Reply:

Perfectly said vodka tonic.


Comment by Plano Mom.

If you’re worried about people knowing about your separation, perhaps you aren’t clear yourself. I think I agree with vodkatonic. This photograph is announcing a decision, and maybe SS isn’t ready to commit to it.


Comment by chellel.

Just send a card with the photo of your kids and sign it “the whateveryourname family” seriously. people are going to eventually find out but yes i would hate to announce it through a holiday card so just be ambiguous


Comment by RealityTC.

The way I see it you can go one of two ways: 1. Send out the photo card & say nothing. 2. Send out the photo card with a Christmas letter & say something along the lines of “Unfortunately, Bob & I have separated. Thank you for your support during this difficult time.” Make the rest of the letter your usual updates about your lives! If anything your friends and family won’t have to pretend that they don’t know anymore.


Comment by Patty.

I endorse the kid photo, though, personally, I don’t really like to receive them. I favor penguins with snowboards and deer on ice skates. However, it is time to move on with life, and that lets everyone who should know, know, and make a move. Ending a stalemate can be a vast relief for everyone involved, and those who have been waiting for the other shoe to drop for the past year and a half.


Comment by Been there.

I agree with Chellel…..either do that or send none at all. Christmas cards are not the platform to open yourself up to gossip or to make sad announcements.

I'm a big ol' b with a captial B! Reply:

Agreed. Christmas cards really aren’t the place to air that kind of stuff, I don’t think. It’s about celebrating the holidays. If you really want to spread the news I’d really tell just a few people on either side of the family and tell them that it’s ok to pass it around if they want to. Or you can always send a mass email.

Agreed with signing “Jones family” and pic of the kids.


Comment by Julie.

Agreed. Skip the photo cards or just go with the kids. I do this whenever I look like crap in our family pic anyway, and I’ve skipped the letter altogether a few years (death, newborn, one generally shitastic year). Divorce announcements, photographic or otherwise, should always be saved for Easter.

In all seriousness, I wish you all the best in coming to a conclusion with things. I have a one year rule for clothes I haven’t worn in my closet…they get taken to Goodwill. Maybe it’s time you stop waiting for him to get cute again?


Comment by N and Em's mom.

A couple of observations from a woman who has been there and bucks the system:
(1) It’s September. You are probably more worried about the state of the separation than the Christmas cards.

(2) I can assure you that if it has been 18 months, people know you are separated. Kids blab, neighbors blab, and confidants blab.

(3) There is no Christmas card judge that decides when you can be “excused” from doing something that is technically optional. I stopped sending Christmas cards the year that I got divorced. It was just too painful. I make an effort to keep up with the people that I want to keep up with, and they love me enough to send cards to me. If anyone cut me from their list I either didn’t notice or didn’t care. At the very least, trim your list by anyone that YOU want to keep in contact with. Your separated husband can send his own cards.

(4) Life sucks in limbo. What you are living is way worse than being divorced. Distance yourself from ANYONE who will not be supportive of you. You are beating yourself up over Christmas cards for Pete’s sake. I get the sense that there is so much more to the story than you are ready to share. Please make sure that you are getting counseling; the perspective from someone who is a trained outsider with your best interests at heart is invaluable.

Tonya Reply:

Extremely well said, N and Em’s mom! Thank you! I agree.

vodka tonic Reply:

#4! #4! #4!

Agreed. Move yourself to one side or the other. Stop straddling the median.

Oh yes, and the part about not having to announce anything in an xmas card. You don’t have to announce anything, at any time. The problem == you haven’t made the decision in your own heart and mind. So, back to the road. One side or the other. Not both. Your life’s not going anywhere this way.

Deb Reply:

Wow! You hit me between the eyes. Separated 18 months, didn’t send cards last year, due to all that encompassed the death of our marriage, our life and that of our kids’. Ours is not secret, however, but unlimited support from both sides (friends and family) has been overwhelmingly more than I could have imagined. Vodka Tonic hit it on the head in the second sentence. N and Em’s mom (which I am!) couldn’t have described me better! Thanks, ladies, I needed your candor. You’ve set me back on the road. This has all been a necessary process and I am moving forward. As a result of your insite, I have made the decision that I will not send Christmas cards until there has been a divorce. That will signal that new life has begun and that Life Is Good 🙂


Comment by beeyotch.

Thank you so much for posting this question. I’m in your shoes right now and have been at odds with what to do. We normally send out cards every year, so if I don’t send something out, everyone will know something is up. If I send something of just me and my son, it will be pretty obvious. And yes, life in limbo does suck (#4). I’m there right now, too and it’s easier said than done. Regardless, N and Em’s Mom, your advice is very much appreciated by this mouthy housewife.

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