Do You Know How To Deal With a Friend Going Through Divorce?
Copyright © 2009 StraightDivorce.com
There are few things more painful or emotionally disturbing as going through a divorce and without the support of good friends, it can be devastating. Whether it’s just someone to talk to, cry with or to hold onto someone’s hand, anyone going through a divorce needs a friend.
What To Do For a Friend Getting a Divorce
Even when a person chooses divorce, being alone for the first time in a long while is a very lonely experience and very depressing to say the least. Your friend may have been part of a couple for quite a while and now all of a sudden, they’re no longer a twosome, but a single person who has to learn to do things alone. That’s a very difficult experience, especially in the early stages of divorce. So, since you care about your friend, it’s important to know what you should do and what you shouldn’t do as a friend. Most important, the person going through the divorce is navigating through a transitional period and trying hard to make an adjustment to their new life. Having a friend in their corner, someone who really cares is what they need more than anything else.
What Not to Do for a Friend Getting a Divorce
When someone is going through a divorce they’re very sensitive and indecisive about most things and not sure about what to do and not to do. It isn’t your job to advise them, even if you think they’re better off without the person. And you should never give legal advice. That should be up to their divorce attorney, because even if you’ve been through a divorce, you don’t know all the legal ins and outs so necessary to their situation. And although it may be obvious to you that they’re better off without their partner, don’t bad mouth their ex. They don’t need to hear your negative comments about the person as it makes them feel worse about their choices. It’s also very hard for the newly divorced person to see happy couples holding hands and kissing so use discretion if you’re in a relationship. That doesn’t mean you have to stop living, but just be considerate and sensitive for a time. This is a person who’s on the mend and they just need some love and attention.
Try Not to Judge
Whether you agree with your friend or not, or feel inclined to tell them what to do, try not to judge. You may think that your friend has made a mistake in choosing divorce or even think they’re wrong if they want to hold on to the marriage, but either way we don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors. Therefore, we should try not to judge the actions of our friends. Your real job is to be supportive and that can be done without compromising your own values. More than likely, many couples will attempt reconciliation even after a divorce has been started. It just seems to come with the territory, so even if you’re totally opposed to your friend getting back with his or her ex, it isn’t your place to decide. You can gently encourage them to go either way if you feel that one way might be better, but don’t push the issue. It’s often best to just ask questions and let the person going through it explore their feelings on their own, unless they want to talk them out. Yes, in many instances, they may make mistakes, but isn’t that the way we all learn?
What if Your Friend Wants to Be Alone
Very often, a person going through a divorce wants to be alone. Don’t try to push them into doing things, unless they’re spending far too much time alone. Everyone going through something as painful as divorce needs time to themselves to sort things out, so if they ask for alone time, respect their wishes. Don’t be offended if they don’t want to spend time with you, as it’s usually just their way of learning to be on their own. And if you’re married, it’s quite common for newly divorced people to stray from married friends because it hurts to see couples in a loving relationship. If you’re single, they may find the single life somewhat offensive. So don’t take it personally. Give them time. They’ll usually come back on their own. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to see them, even if they’ve asked for space. Be available to listen and to comfort. Call your friend without being asked and invite them out for dinner, a movie or shopping. Just listen and watch for the clues and be considerate of their needs.
Don’t Choose Sides
If you’ve been friends with both of the partners involved in the divorce, it’s especially hard to be friends with both and doubly hard not to choose sides. Mostly, what you want to do is simply listen to what each has to say. Your opinions may count, but it’s really up to the parties involved to make choices for their lives. Hold your tongue even if one or the other behaves poorly. If you say something nasty about the other person, it’s possible that they may wind up back together and then you’ll feel awkward when you’re in their company. Best to keep your opinions to yourself. Active listening is the key to being a good friend.
Be a Comfort to a Friend Getting a Divorce
Being a friend doesn’t mean you have to do everything right. You too will probably make mistakes, say the wrong thing ocassionally or just do something that offends the person getting the divorce. It’s okay. If you realize that you said something that wasn’t appropriate, you can always say you’re sorry. Just remember that it’s pretty scary for the person going through the divorce and they really want a sympathetic, comforting ear. But, there’s really very little you can actually do for someone going through a painful experience except to show them that you care. Give them a call and chat for a bit if that’s what they need, and mostly, do your best to simply listen.