5 Ways to REALLY Help A Divorcing Friend
If you know someone going through difficulties in their relationship, it may be difficult to show them how to look at this new phase in life as a positive. The key to being supportive is to be physically present and show them that your bond continues to go on despite the end of one relationship.
Divorce brings up many difficult topics that you may or may not have personal experience with, but as long as you keep your conversation to facts and positive reinforcement, you’re going in the right direction.
It’s not about always knowing the right thing to say, but more on your willingness to listen and helping them get back on their feet at the beginning.
When my husband and I separated and divorced, I felt entirely alone. Given 40-50% of all marriages end in divorce, statistics suggest I should have known someone in the same boat, but I didn’t. I was aware of some single parents and blended families, but they existed only on the sidelines of my life.
Filled with pain and guilt and overwhelmed by navigating a process I knew nothing about, I turned to my friends for help. Most of them had no idea what to do. Their intentions were good, but our conversations left me feeling more alone.
My ride-or-die girlfriends helped most. Their kindness and love and unwavering support still stops me in my tracks, years after our divorce was final. My closest friends did five things for me during my divorce that moved me forward.
If your friend (guy or gal) is newly separated, or navigating a divorce, here’s what you can do to help:
Listen without judgment. Really.
You may think you are already doing this, but the truth is you’re probably not. If you are agreeing with what your friend is saying about his ex, you’re not doing this. If you’re ‘helping’ your friend think about the effects of divorce on her children, you’re not doing it. Listen and acknowledge the feeling and stop talking.
Grief is a circular process. Decision making can be circular too. People going through separations love their partners even as the relationship dies. In fact, no one loves or cares for her ex more than your friend. Those circular processes combined with that love means that your friend will want to stay one day and leave the next.
My best friends didn’t agree that Billy was an asshole. They didn’t agree that I should stay with him. Years later, I still don’t know what they thought I should do. That impartial stance made it easy to keep talking to them.
My friends simply listened. They comforted me in my sadness and helped lessen the load of my guilt. They encouraged me and shared their hope. They held space for me.