Your good friend down the street just told you that she and her husband are divorcing. You want to give her all of your wisdom and advice. That would really help her….or would it?
The first thing to do is just listen. Really listen.
It is not the time to scare her with what went wrong in your divorce or to bombard your friend with what she ought to do.
Your friend may be numb with shock and wants you as a sounding board so that she can process her emotions.
Respect your friend’s privacy and do not ask him/her for the gory details to satisfy your curiosity.
They may have had a picture perfect marriage on the outside, but what went on behind closed doors was personal. Instead, just be there even if sitting in silence. Let your pal know that you are there for them in whatever way is supportive.
Gently ask if they could use some divorce resources.
The Divorce Magazine’s web site has a tab to click on for resources and mention the informative articles. MeetUp.com has divorce groups in London and in other parts of the UK. MeetUp.com has men’s and women’s groups which can provide camaraderie and interesting activities. There are various divorce support groups, retreats, and workshops in the UK and elsewhere which can be beneficial. Perhaps check for these online and report back to your friend. I sometimes stumbled around in a fog during divorce and could have used help from friends sourcing this type of support.
I had a birthday during the middle of my divorce and people queued up to help me celebrate it. Perhaps have a group celebration for their birthday in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.
Small treats are great, such as a bag of Thornton’s decadent chocolates or a gift card for something fun. Are their kids with the other parent for the first time on a major bank holiday? Invite them over for a festive diversion.
People shared what helped them in their divorces.
When they saw I was about to make a huge mistake, they tactfully told about similar experiences where that potential action just did not work.
Refrain from using the word “should” and use other ones, such as “have you considered…?”
Telling true stories about your own or someone else’s divorce is guidance, not preaching what you think you friend has to do. Be aware of how you come across to a divorcing friend, because dispensing advice can be construed as judgemental of how they are handling things.
I share what supplements, including homeopathic ones, helped me through my divorce and beyond. I let people know about a particular protein drink that helps me when under stress. I bring up the topic of supplements, including nutrition, since I am a nurse. People can take it or leave it. Someone in a different specialty, such as fitness, might bring up beneficial aspects of exercise which can help in divorce.
If your friend expresses frustration or that they feel stuck, ask them if they might consider going to a life or divorce coach. This coach can help them to see where they are stuck and devise strategies to deal with stress and have a smoother divorce. The coach can help a person learn how to face divorce issues and cope with being separated from children part-time.
Help your friend realize that they are not alone and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Wendi Schuller is a published author who has conducted classes on various subjects. She draws upon her knowledge as a nurse, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer (NLP), and hypnotherapist, providing a blueprint to guide women through this difficult transition. Schuller hired an attorney for a court divorce, but decided to go the collaborative route instead and has worked with a mediator post-divorce.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce