Many people struggling with the emotions of their recent divorce will need support from friends and family as they come to grips with what happened and decide how to move forward. There is plenty of advice for divorcees in terms of how to open up, handle stress better, and who to look to for help, but what if you are that friend they turn to? You want to help, but you wonder aloud, “how do you support a friend going through a divorce?”
There is no handbook for what you should or should not say or do as that friend offering support. No two divorces are the same, and what one friend needs, another does not. But the importance of “being there” cannot be overstated.
While not an exhaustive list, here are 7 ways to support a friend going through a divorce.
It is in our nature to talk before we think and even share our unfiltered opinions as if we know what our friend is going through. The truth is that we do not know! So, the first step to supporting a friend going through a divorce should be to listen. Let them get everything off their chest, seek to understand their unique challenges, and let them confide in the one person they trust the most. Sometimes, having someone who listens is the only thing they need.
Ask them what they need or want
When you are not sure how to offer support, the best thing you can do is ask. This lets them know that you are there for them and takes the guesswork out of how you should offer support. Your friend may need you to be a shoulder to cry on, or they could be seeking a combination of tough love and practical guidance. Knowing this from the get-go makes your duty as that amazing friend so much easier.
Get them out and moving
When appropriate, find ways to surround your friend with positive things that put a smile on their face and separate them from all the negativities. Rather than sit around the house and sulk with them, take them out for a night on the town, splurge on a spa day or trip to the ballpark, organize a gathering with other friends and family, etc. Make everything about them and create a positive environment.
Do not push too much
To piggyback off the previous item, do not push too much. Sometimes, your friend is not quite ready to get out there and put a smile on their face. The best thing you can do in these situations is to encourage them to do something fun, but don’t make them feel pressured to move faster than they are ready to move.
Do not take sides
It can be awkward when you are also friends with the ex-spouse. You may even feel like you must take sides. But you do not. To support a friend going through a divorce also means staying neutral and avoiding hateful words and actions that only make the situation worse. Even if you think the ex-spouse is dead wrong for what happened, do not pick sides. Instead, focus on helping your friend heal and move forward.
Offer to help with daily “stuff”
This could really be anything that makes your friend’s life easier. You could offer to babysit the kids, bring them food, clean their house (or hire someone to clean their house), and even help them find a new job. When you are recently divorced, it can be difficult keeping up with these things. Typically, it is the last thing on their mind.
Do not support unhealthy behavior
Fueling an environment where anger and lashing out, heavy drinking, emotional eating, avoiding social interaction, etc., are the answer to all of your friend’s problems is not the right course of action. Yes, you should be willing to accept the occasional mood swings, but do not feed into this behavior. If you see that your friend is doing dumb things or hurting themselves, it’s your job to push them in a more positive direction.
Call Nelson Law Group today!!
If divorce is the answer, you need a trusted advisor to guide you through each stage of your divorce and help you deal with the stress that naturally comes with that. We work diligently to achieve a result that ensures you receive what you are entitled to as you move forward onto the next stage of your life. The Nelson Law Group brings nearly two decades of experience in family law to each and every case.