Friends are invaluable, especially during a difficult time like divorce. Many people we know will sympathize or try in their own way to be of comfort to a divorcing friend, though they’re not always sure of the best way to do so. Everyone who reaches out deserves our appreciation for at least making the effort to show they care or to offer help, but some do it better that others!
Friends and Divorce: The Keepers
- The Non-Judgmental Listener: Divorce is not a pretty situation, and there are often plenty of undesirable situations that accompany the experience. In very few divorces is there only one spouse who has acted regrettably. So, chances are that you’ve made mistakes, your ex has made mistakes, and you’re both riding a tidal wave of emotions! One of the most valuable assets you can have is a caring friend who listens and reserves criticism and judgment. This friend will let you blather endlessly or be willing to talk you through your options without making you feel like a disaster. If you’ve done wrong, this friend still loves you, and isn’t about to impose their values on the decisions you’ve made. Whether they agree with your choices or not, this friend remains a friend before anything else!
- The Divorce Warrior: Married and never divorced friends will try to offer counsel and support, but no one else truly understands what you’re going through unless they’ve been down the same path. A divorce warrior is one who has survived the rigors of divorce and are now thriving because they’ve learned, grown, and are in a position to share their wisdom with others. Non-divorce warriors are likely to lose patience with your divorce woes after a while because they don’t fully understand. A divorce warrior is more likely to stick by your side through every ugly moment, and offer amazing guidance from a “been there, done that” perspective.
- The Action-Oriented Pal: The nature of divorce invites getting stuck in a quagmire of negativity. Taking up residence in gloominess is counter-productive to our health and wellness, so sometimes we need a good push from a friend who will encourage us to set some goals, try new things, and take the necessary steps needed to get through. Perhaps you need help to find a new place to live, a brainstorm partner before meeting a lawyer, or a model of courage to transition into your new life? A go-getter kind of friend will force you to crawl off the couch and change out of three-day-old sweats because, eventually, it’s time to face life again!
- The Forget Your Problems Friend: Divorce is one of the more unpleasant events you will ever endure. The list of unwelcome issues you will take on calls for some respite! A forget your problems friend knows how to make you laugh and always has an idea of something relaxing or fun that will help take your mind off of divorce, if only temporarily. This friend is a pro at knowing just the right activity to lighten the mood, whether a movie marathon at home or a night on the town.
- The Confidence Builder: Divorce can be a confidence-killer. You’ve been with one person for a while, you may be feeling unlovable or particularly down about life, and in dire need of a pep talk. This friend will remind you of your admirable qualities and help you to care enough to invest in your needs again.
Friends and Divorce: The Ones You Don’t Need At This Time
- The Second Guesser: For the most part, you know why your marriage is over. You might not understand every bit of why it fell apart, and you most likely have not shared every sorted detail of your failing marriage with friends. Many of us never share every private and messy reason why we’re divorcing because we are either ashamed or, well, it’s private! A second guesser may feel as though they know best and are sharing valuable advice; but, who of us wants to hear that we should give our cheating ex another try, should stick through it because we’ll surely never get anything better, or need to remain married for the kids? What the second guesser is missing is the fact that we’ve already beat ourselves up over many of these thoughts and, as difficult as the decision was, we determined that we chose the best course for our situation!
- The Matchmaker: In due time, you will be ready to move on, meet other people, and open your heart again. The prospect of experiencing love again follows a unique timetable for each divorcing person, dependent on how they progress through healing, the nature of their break-up, and how long the relationship has been over. Rebound romances can be fun, but often fraught with after-the-fact face palming because we’re just not ready yet to think clearly in the arena of love! A matchmaking friend means well. In fact, he or she probably just wants to see you happy. The problem is, that a new lover isn’t a reliable way to get over a serious long term relationship. A casual relationship might help build confidence, but is likely a recipe for disaster until you have time to recognize what went wrong in your marriage and learn from it. This is an example of “two wrongs don’t make a right!” Your match-making friend just needs to calm down and let you heal first.
- The Anchor: An anchor’s job is literally to be so heavy that it sinks to the depths of the ocean and holds what it’s attached to firmly in that spot. If what you seek is to remain fixed to the coordinates of the worst experience of your life, then an anchor will deliver! In human form, an anchor is a friend who hovers, and forces you to do so, wallowing over the same events, emotions, and memories until something mighty comes along to loosen the attachment.
Assessing the events of your divorce and learning from them is an important step in the recovery process, however lingering over the lowest points of melancholy to obsession is definitely not healthy.
Surrounding yourself with support during divorce is a positive choice. All of your friends and acquaintances may mean the best for you, but some offer more of what you really need than others. Know when to limit the involvement of some well-wishers whose involvement causes more harm than good. Welcome positive influences into your life with open arms, and be willing to absorb the love, wisdom, and good vibes these friends have to offer!