Supporting a Friend Through Their Divorce

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10 Ways to Support a Friend Going Through a Divorce

If someone you love or are close with is getting divorced, you may be wondering how you can best help them. While every person has individual needs, here are 10 suggestions concerning how you can support a friend through their divorce.

  1. Be patient. While you may not want to hear about the divorce repeatedly, they are going through an emotionally draining process that is similar to grieving. They have to accept the loss of their sense of normalcy and control, and they are mourning their hopes for the future and relationship. So, even if you get tired of hearing about the process, remind yourself how much grief and change they’re handling.
  2. Reserve judgment. The best way to show them support is to practice compassion and reserve judgment. Even if you “saw this coming” or feel happy that they are getting divorced, you should avoid celebrating and reserve judgment about their relationship. You don’t want them to feel as though their emotions are being minimized. You should also avoid sharing your opinion concerning their soon-to-be-ex. In some cases, they may remain friends, have to co-parent, or may even reconcile, and you don’t want to regret what you have said.
  3. Don’t compare. Sometimes people want to share “war stories,” and they compare their last break up or divorce to their friend’s current divorce. However, every divorce is different, and while you can tell them that you empathize or understand what they’re going through, they may not feel supported if you add to their worries or try to make the conversation about you.
  4. Ask how you can help. Your friend may have specific needs, and a great way to support them is to allow them to tell you what they need from you.
  5. Respect their process. As we have mentioned, getting divorced is an emotional process. You should honor your friend’s boundaries when it comes to whether they are ready to date and where they are in their emotional journey.
  6. Don’t support unhealthy habits or behavior. If your friend is struggling to process the divorce, you should not support any unhealthy or dangerous practices. While you should acknowledge their pain, remind them that they shouldn’t try to escape the pain or sadness in unsafe or unhealthy ways. If you are especially worried, you may even recommend counseling or a recovery group.
  7. Don’t engage in toxic positivity. While you may want to point out the silver lining, you should avoid saying or doing things to encourage toxic positivity, which involves overgeneralizing or forcing feelings of happiness or optimism to avoid, deny, minimize, or invalidate negative, authentic emotions. Remind yourself and your friend that it’s okay to acknowledge, share, and healthily process their honest emotions, even if those emotions aren’t positive.
  8. Invite them out. Some divorcees isolate when they should be reaching out for support; if your friend is isolating, you can be the one to reach out. Even if they often decline invitations, continue inviting them out and maybe even surprise them at home with a movie night or dinner.
  9. Remember anniversaries and important dates. Your friend may appreciate it if you send them a message or show up for them during hearings or on anniversaries. These days may be especially challenging for them during the divorce process.
  10. Help with the transition. During and after the divorce, they may need help as they adjust to post-divorce life. Show in small ways by offering to help with child pick-ups, dinner, moving, changing the batteries in a smoke alarm, or other activities to help them navigate the shift from married life to single life.

What to Say to Support a Friend Getting Divorced

Sometimes the trickiest part of supporting a friend going through a divorce can be knowing what to say. While still being mindful of our previous advice, here are a few things that you can say to remind them you are there for them during this process.

  • Nothing. Sometimes, you don’t have to say anything—just being there is enough.
  • I’m here if you want to talk. It can be comforting to know that you are there if they want to talk. This phrase reminds them that you are there and willing to listen to their concerns but leaves the ball in their court.
  • What are you doing this weekend? To help your friend avoid self-isolation, inviting them out for some self-care or fun can be a great distraction from the strain of the divorce and a mental and emotional booster.
  • Is it okay if I check in with you once a week? This question tells your friend you are there to be a supporter and friend but also allows them to set a boundary concerning how often you contact them.
  • How can I best support you right now? Sometimes, it’s best to just ask them how and when they want you to show up as a friend during this season.
  • Are you considering counseling? If you notice your friend is struggling emotionally or mentally, you might encourage them to join a support group or get professional support.
  • I’m not going anywhere. Divorcees may feel alone, rejected, or unwanted, and this reminder can encourage them to remember some relationships are still intact.
  • This too shall pass. There are emotional stages of divorce: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. How long these stages last can depend on the person and the circumstances surrounding their divorce. Sometimes, people may feel stuck in their negative emotions or discouraged that they’re not “over it” yet. Saying this can encourage them to honor where they are emotionally and psychologically right now while remaining hopeful that the bad feelings will pass.
  • You’re amazing and can only become better from this experience. Because getting divorced can negatively impact a person’s self-view, sense of control, and sense of their identity, they may appreciate the reminder that they are a good person and that they will grow from this process.
  • You should talk to Attorney Shaw. In supporting your friend, you should ensure that they have the legal representation they need and deserve. Even in amicable or uncontested divorce cases, they need and can benefit from working with an experienced divorce attorney. At Shaw Family Law, our attorney has decades of experience and is equipped to help your friend navigate the complexities of the legal system.

If you or a loved one are getting a divorce, contact Shaw Family Law today for the legal counsel you need and deserve. To schedule an initial consultation, call (205) 259-7650 or reach out online today.