A friend in need…
As you go through divorce, some of your friends may seem to vanish just when you need them most. For better or worse, old dynamics, including friendships, change with divorce. Some of your "couple" friends you used to enjoy together may no longer feel comfortable being with either of you on your own because they may not want to "get in the middle." Others may feel threatened by your decision to divorce because they may be in a troubled marriage themselves – or perhaps one of them may feel wary of your new single status and think you have designs on their partner. Then there are the friends who choose to provide support solely to your ex-spouse – a common but painful situation.
The good news is that as you settle into your new life, you’ll have a golden opportunity to edit and reinvent your friendships. You’ll be relieved of those that were negative, draining, dull, or just too much work. New friends will take their place, adding fullness and dimension to your life, while relationships with the friends who stand by you through this difficult time will be strengthened by the experience.
Here are some "friendly" tips to help you through this painful side effect of divorce:
- Get out of the house. Even if it means walking down a busy street or going shopping, get yourself out of isolation and back into the world.
- Try a new hobby or interest. It’s an easy, natural way to meet like-minded people and make new friends.
- Volunteering is also a wonderful outlet. When you give of yourself to others, you remind yourself that your own pain is temporary and that there are others in need. You become less self-absorbed and more attractive to the right potential friends.
- Let it all out. If you are really struggling with lost friendships, speak to a life coach, therapist, counselor, spiritual leader or other professional who can provide objective support.
Sticking it out for the kids? Read this.
Findings from a recent University of Alberta study published in the December 2005 edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family suggest that the greatest harm to a child’s mental health may actually occur in the years leading up to the breakup not after the divorce itself. Studies of the effect of divorce upon dependent children typically compare children whose parents are divorced with those in stable, two-parent families but fail to examine the quality of family life prior to divorce. But in her research, Dr. Lisa Strohschein, Ph.D., a professor in the university’s department of sociology who conducted the study, viewed divorce as a process, observing the effects of divorce upon children before, during, and after the event. The study contrasted children whose parents had divorced between 1994 and 1998 with those whose parents remained married throughout the same time period. By examining children pre-divorce in 1994, Strohschein found that those whose parents eventually divorced displayed higher levels of anxiety, depression, and antisocial behavior than kids whose parents stayed married, cakkubg into question the assumption that it is the divorce event that is necessarily damaging to child mental health, wrote Strohschein.
Bad marriages may pose greater health risk than divorce, study suggests
A new study sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Aging found that marital stress, especially as couples who constantly disagree age, can exert a detrimental effect on the immune system. The findings appeared in the March 2006 Journal of Health and Social Behavior, a publication of the American Sociological Association. Lead study researcher Dr. Debra Umberson, PhD., a University of Texas sociology professor, and her fellow researchers analyzed 1,049 married couples in three waves of data collection from 1986, 1989, and 1994. By comparing the respondents’ answers about marital quality with those about their health, the researchers found that those who are married exhibit better overall health than the unmarried. Everyone knows that marital discord is a source of stress, but this study seems to indicate that constant bickering in poor marriages may indeed have long-term health consequences.