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How to Support a Friend Going Through a Divorce

Posted on August 16th, 2022
Two women comforting each other on a couch

Is there someone in your life that is contemplating separating from their spouse or that is going through a divorce? Do you wonder what you can do to get them through this tough time? Divorce is one of the most different events that anyone can go through in their life, and everyone needs some form of support during their divorce journey.

At the end of the day, change is incredibly scary, and if your friend is going through a divorce – even if they are the one that initiated it – there are some ways that you can make the transition easier.

Here are just some of the ways to help your friend get through a divorce:

Simply listen

Divorce is primarily a process of grieving. Your friend is saying goodbye to the world that they have grown used to and the stability that they have learned to rely on. They are likely replaying their marriage and mourning what they once had. They are also mourning the future that they thought they were going to have.

You’ll probably have to listen to your friend talk about this soon after divorce and for quite some time afterward, especially when it comes to special occasions like Christmas, anniversaries, and birthdays. It’s important that you take the time to listen to them and invite conversation. Ensure that they know you aren’t sick of them talking about their divorce and that you are happy for them to use you to try and make sense of everything that they are going through.

Be compassionate and reserve judgment

The act of listening isn’t the most important aspect, it’s how you listen too that will have a big impact. Try to actively pay attention when your friend is talking, this means that you’ll be able to validate their emotions, empathize and show compassion for what they are going through.

This isn’t where you say “I told you so!” after their spouse did exactly what you tried to warn them about.” “I saw this coming” and “You’re better off,” are also phrases that should be off the table here. This isn’t the time to take the high ground in any way, shape, or form, and that applies to moral and religious aspects too. You might think that you would have done something different in the divorce process, but it isn’t about you and what you would have done. Keep in mind that it’s often unhelpful to give unsolicited advice. Try to keep your divorce advice to yourself unless your friend specifically asks for it.

 Ask how you can help

Many people tend to think about the emotional side of divorce without considering how much administration is involved in separating two lives. Meeting with lawyers, appraisers, and finance professionals must be scheduled; boxes must be packed, children must still be picked up and dropped off at school, and so on. Divorce is often overwhelming and time-consuming.

Asking your friend how you can help is one of the best things that you can do to support them. This might be something as simple as babysitting the kids, walking the dog, or making dinner. Or it could be scheduling meetings, packing boxes, and more. Ask if there is something that you can do that will take some of the load off of your friend, and they will be incredibly grateful.

Invite them to things even if they always say no

Many people going through a divorce tend to isolate themselves. They could still be heartbroken and not want to face the world, or they could simply not want to burden friends and family with talk about their divorce. No matter what the reason, chances are that a freshly divorced person will be a little hesitant to socialize.

It’s important, however, that you keep inviting them out to do things. Whether that’s just to hang out together at your house, for a walk in the park, or it’s brunch with friends – keep inviting them. Let them know that you want to spend time with them and that it’s okay for them to show up as they are. If they are really resistant to going out, you could change tact and take a movie, wine, or snacks over to theirs.

Understand that there will be mood swings

There are a ton of emotions involved in a divorce, and they don’t happen in a linear process. People mistakenly think that their emotions will follow the five stages of grief timeline, and they will experience things like denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance one after another.

In reality, your friend will feel these different emotions on a daily and even hourly basis. Be patient and understand when they go from having a great day to having an awful one or from being depressed to being ecstatic. Divorce is an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s important to remember that it takes time to heal from it. Simply show up and be there for your friend, no matter what mood they are in.

Be honest and don’t support unhealthy behaviors

It’s important that you know the difference between your friend wanting to go out for a drink every now and then to going out all the time and getting heavily intoxicated. There are healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms, and it’s essential that you are honest with your friend if they are relying on the latter of the two.

Let your friend know that you’re willing to be there as a positive support system, but you’re not the person that is going to enable any destructive behavior. Always show compassion and ensure your friend understands that you know they are hurting but that you are concerned about some of their behaviors.

Don’t trash talk their ex, especially if there are children involved

It’s easy to tear down your friend’s ex. You see your friend is hurting and that their ex is the reason for it. You want to be angry for them and trash talk the ex. In reality, however, it’s best to help your friend get over the hurt and anger rather than letting them wallow in it. The way you talk about their ex could unintentionally influence how they interact with their ex, and it’s always best to have a respectful and amicable divorce process where possible, especially if there are kids involved. You can still let your friend know that you don’t approve of how they have been treated, but you don’t have to destroy their ex’s character to do that.

Don’t pressure them into dating

It might seem like a good idea for your friend to get back out there as soon as they can. Of course, they are a catch, and you want them to feel wanted. This might stem from a good place, and you might have the best intentions, but you should never push your friend into dating before they are ready. This will only serve as a small band-aid on a big wound, and when that inevitably ends, the emotions will come back even stronger. Let your friend decide when they are ready to put themselves out there, and then you can try working your matchmaking magic. Until then, just relax and enjoy your friend’s company as they are.

Encourage them to seek professional help

Therapy and other professional support are hugely valuable in the divorce process. It’s a space for your friend to process emotions, get help to identify healthier coping mechanisms, and get advice from a trained professional.

Whether it’s a support group, one-on-one therapy, or the help of a divorce coach – encouraging your friend to get professional support is one of the best things that you can do for them.

Naked Divorce helps through the whole divorce journey

Whether you’re still considering whether you should get a divorce, you’re about to start the proceedings, or you just need help moving on to a brighter and betting future, Naked Divorce has got a program or retreat for you. Find out how our Divorce Angels can help you, wherever you are in your divorce journey.

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With you in service,
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