We all know that a true friend is one that sticks by us when the going gets tough, but when a friend is going through divorce, if you haven’t had that experience yourself, it can be hard to know how to help. Here are my tips on helping your friend through a divorce.
The most important thing any friend can do is to listen
And I do mean listen. As difficult as it may be to keep your thoughts to yourself, it is not helpful to pass judgement on the ex-partner. Being rude about their ex won’t make them feel better, it just stirs up feelings. We all moan on occasions about our family, but it is never okay for anyone else to, even when we are divorcing them.
Discretion is a crucial part of being a supportive friend
We all know that when gossip passes from one person to another, it can get distorted. In a highly emotionally charged state, which divorcing couples generally are, hearing gossip about yourself can be very hurtful, damaging and create a far more acrimonious situation. If your partner is friends with the ex, make a pact with your partner that you will not discuss what you have been told in confidence. If you’re not told anything, then you can’t accidentally repeat it.
Going out as a single person can be daunting
Another key factor for people getting divorced is the change in their social status. Going out as a single person can be frightening and daunting after years in a relationship. But as a step to getting back on your feet emotionally, it is important to get out and not stay at home feeling isolated.
If you think your friend is turning down social events that they would enjoy, offer to go as their ‘plus one’.
If your friend is living on their own with young children they may feel quite isolated
It is well documented that loneliness and social isolation are harmful. If your friend is living on their own with young children, and no adults to talk to, they may feel quite trapped and isolated. Getting a babysitter can be expensive, and your friend may not want to feel they are constantly leaving their children with someone else. If your friend is not getting out, why not offer to cook dinner at their house, instead of them coming to you, or invite them to a family sleepover?
If your friend has a child sharing arrangement, and suddenly finds themselves on their own on alternate weekends, this can be lonely and hard for them to adjust to. Ask them if they are keeping busy on those weekends. Invite them over, or encourage them to take up a hobby that they never quite got around to before. This will also be a nice way for them to meet a new social group, and make new friends.
And finally, don’t judge
You may or may not agree with your friend’s decision to get divorced, or it may be that their behaviour is the reason for it. No one ever knows exactly what goes on between two people, except the people themselves. And sometimes they don’t even understand it themselves!