It goes without saying that going through divorce is an emotionally charged process or journey.
So what can you do when someone tells you their marriage is over?
Here are the dos when helping a friend going through divorce:
- Just listen. You don’t need to come up with any solutions. You don’t need to offer any advice. You don’t need to do anything else other than listen. Be ready for those long telephone conversations and repetition about incidents and things that the spouse has done/said.
- Take the initiative. Go see your friend, be with him, call her. Sometimes people going through divorce feel, for various reasons, that they cannot approach others for help. Don’t leave it up to your friend to ask for help. Offer it and keep doing so.
- Do continue to invite her out for social events. It’s amazing how once you become single, the dinner parties and social events invites become thin on the ground. Get him out of the house as much as possible, keeping in mind that there will be times when your friend may prefer to be on his own which is fine too.
- If they are going through solicitors, attend the meetings with her and take a notebook/pad to take notes.
- Encourage your friend to keep the long view in mind, especially where children are concerned. We make strange and weird decisions when in anger.
- Do offer practical help e.g. cooking or looking after the children
And here are the don’ts.
- Don’t take sides. Remember that no matter what, the ex-spouse was/is someone whom your friend loved enough to marry and have children with. Also, you never know, they might just come back together. If you would like to continue being friends with both of them, then let them know.
- Don’t fan the flames of anger and resentment. Don’t share in his anger as a means of showing support. It’s not your anger to have and to hold. Divorce can be resolved with dignity. Yes it can.
- Don’t push your experiences onto them. If you have been through divorce yourself, by all means share your experiences but allow her to make his own legal decisions. Your experience was yours and each case is different. If you have information that can be beneficial, offer it but expect that it might not be the best one for her.
- Don’t rush them through the coping process but instead allow them to really feel the emotions and live through them. It’s all about processing what has happened and/or what is happening.
- Don’t start planning and organising blind dates for them. Let them find their way. Under the same breath, if they seem too eager to start dating almost immediately, speak with them about this as it might just be a means of getting away from the pain and loneliness.
Soila is the founder of The Divorce Magazine and creator of the five star rated online course – Helping Children Cope with Divorce
She is known for taking away the pain of trauma and loss in children, adolescents and their families and is the author of “When Love is Broken. A read-together book for children and parents going through divorce and separation.
Soila holds an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from UCL (University College London), is an accredited Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) practitioner and a trained Family Mediator.
Soila is Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society.
You can contact her on 07850 85 60 66 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org