How to Help a Friend Going through a Divorce: 5 Tips for BFFs
Divorcing one’s spouse, especially after long or toxic marriage, is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. For a best friend, it can be hard to know what to do or say to help a friend who is going through a tough divorce. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells at times, not wanting to say the wrong thing and make anything worse for your friend. Here are five tips on how to be a great friend to someone during their divorce.
Simply Be There
The first and most important thing you can do is to simply be there for your friend. Just being available to talk or grab a coffee can mean the world to someone going through a divorce. You don’t need to have all the answers or try to fix everything; just being a supportive ear can make all the difference.
Many people going through a divorce feel like they also lose half or most of their friends, especially when the divorcing couple may have had lots of “couple friends” before separating. Reach out to your friend when you hear the news and let them know that you’re still there for them, and suggest a time in the near future when the two of you can have lunch or coffee or a glass of wine together.
Try Not to Take Sides
Try not to take sides, even if you may have strong feelings about what’s happening. It’s important to remain neutral and let your friend vent without judgment. They may need to rant about their ex from time to time, and it’s crucial that you provide a safe space for them to do so. If they are asking for your advice about how to handle situations that you feel are better suited for professional advice, remind your friend to talk about those things with their attorney and/or therapist for the best advice.
If you have strong feelings about your friend’s ex, try to keep those to yourself unless your friend brings them up first. It’s not helpful for you to badmouth the ex or try to convince your friend that they are making a mistake. This will only make your friend feel defensive and more resistant to listening to what you have to say.
Don’t Talk About Your Friend’s Divorce Behind Their Back
Be mindful that you don’t talk about the divorce outside of your friend’s presence. If you have mutual friends, it’s best to avoid talking about the divorce with them in front of your friend or gossiping about it behind their back. Your friend is likely already feeling like they are losing control over their life and their divorce, and the last thing they need is to feel like they are also losing control over how others perceive them and their situation.
Also, because the person they loved the most in the world (their spouse) is now the opposing party in active litigation, they will likely feel like they don’t know who they really trust anymore. Being a true friend means allowing your friend to vent to you while knowing that whatever they tell you stays with you and never breaking the trust they put in you.
Offer to Babysit the Children or Help with Pets
If your friend has children, pets, or both, offer to help out by babysitting or taking the dog for a walk while they attend therapy appointments, attend court hearings, meet with their attorney, move their stuff to a new living space, or just have some time to themselves to process what is happening. This can be a bigger help than most people realize, and it will allow your friend to have some much-needed “me time.” If you don’t live close by, offer to FaceTime with the kids or send over some care packages or have meals delivered for the family.
Also, if your friend is the one who moved out of the marital home, remember that it can be a very emotional process to accomplish and that children and pets may do better being somewhere else while it’s happening. Offering this type of care to your friend may allow them the space they need to process their anger, sadness, or anxiety without also transferring those emotions onto their children (or fur babies).
Don’t Forget Their Milestones
When your friend is going through a divorce, they may feel like they are losing not only their spouse but also the life they built together. It’s important to remind your friend that they are still the same person and that their divorce does not define them or their worth to others.
Celebrate their birthday with them, whether it’s just the two of you or a bigger group of friends. Congratulate them when they land a new job or get a big promotion at work (or if they finally get that raise they’ve been working so hard for). Cheer them on when their child scores the winning goal in their soccer game or gets accepted into college. When their wedding anniversary rolls around, offer to take them out for a night of being thankful for new beginnings. Be there for the good times and bad times because divorce isn’t just one big, long bad time. There are plenty of good times, too.
What are some other ways you can think of to support a friend during their divorce? Let us know on our social media channels! And if you’re going through a divorce yourself, remember that we offer consultations with our experienced divorce attorneys to help you plan your new beginning. Give us a call today to see how we can help you. We’re here for you every step of the way.
If you and your spouse are considering divorce, don’t make any decisions about how to proceed before talking with a trusted attorney in your area. Your divorce and any settlement you create will be subject to your state’s divorce laws. Without discussing your situation with an attorney, your agreement may not be what you want or what is beneficial to your future.
Ben Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and he is a Board-Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. If you or someone you know is facing a divorce, separation, child custody, visitation, or other family law case, contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule a consultation.
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Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
ABOUT J. BENJAMIN STEVENS
Ben.Stevens@offitkurman.com | 864.598.9172
Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina. His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.
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