How to Support Someone Who is Going Through Divorce
I often say that dealing with divorce is, in some ways, worse than dealing with death. Now, fortunately for me, I have not had to deal with the death of a spouse – so I want to be sure that everyone reading or hearing this doesn’t think that I’m minimizing the pain of losing a spouse in death. I’m certainly not. So without minimizing that, I do think that divorce is sometimes harder because of the isolation and the stigma that comes with divorce.
In death, people rally around the survivor. They are invited places, people bring them casseroles. There’s a dignity to losing your spouse to death. No judgment about it.
In divorce, people often are not sure how what to do. They don’t want to choose sides or be in the middle so they just don’t do anything. The result is that people who are getting a divorce can often end up feeling very alone, which is another part of the trauma that wasn’t necessarily anticipated when they decided to divorce. They knew they would be losing a spouse, but losing their friends has also become part of the collateral damage.
So to avoid that from happening, if you have a friend or family member who is dealing with divorce, what can you do?
1. Don’t disappear. If you were friends with both parties, then stay friends with both to the extent that you can. If one of the parties asks you to take sides, just be firm in stating that you do not want to be in the middle or take sides and want to remain on good terms with both parties.
2. Stay Out of the Middle. In the same vein as #1, don’t be a conduit between the parties, and don’t badmouth one spouse to the other.
3. Listen Without Judgment. One of the things a person who is dealing with divorce probably needs more than anything is a person who will listen to them. Guide them away from being mired in a pity party or negativity. Keep them focused on the shining light at the end of the tunnel. Remind them that there is no power in being in a dysfunctional relationship and certainly no medal of honor in remaining stuck in that energy. Make to keep their confidential information private too. Adopt the mantra that it isn’t your business to share with others.
4. Don’t Give Advice – Especially Faux Legal Advice. One of the most toxic things people can do is tell people what their neighbor got in their divorce – or what they should or shouldn’t be getting. You don’t likely know the laws, nor all of the circumstances in the case. In most instances, your stab at helping them with this sort of misinformation will actually just make things more difficult and costly for them in the long run.
5. Include Them. Invite them to dinner, a movie, a walk or coffee. Maybe even invite them to an exercise or yoga class to help clear their mind. Make sure they know that you are still going to be including them in your life and the things that you are doing.
6. Offer to Babysit If There Are Small Children. Sometimes just getting a break from the children for an hour or two can be a godsend to someone who is in the thick of divorce. Allowing them to shower in peace, or even go to the grocery store without the children may be just the thing they need to feel a little bit better.
7. Tell them about my programs!
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Thanks for joining me today. I give tips, tricks and divorce secrets every day. If you enjoyed this, please head on over to my youtube channel and hit subscribe. Also please check out www.breakingfreefromdivorce.com for ways to be supported in your divorce.
I will see you tomorrow for Tuesday Divorce Tactics – where I will discuss How to Handle the New Alimony Tax Laws.
Until then, remember you’re just one step away from your new life. Together, we’ve got this.