How to Help a Friend Going Through a Bitter Divorce  

The divorce rates we read and hear about aren’t just abstract numbers; they represent a couple and a family going through a hard time. Many don’t have to look too far, some of our closest friends and family members have gone through it. It’s even worse when the divorce is sour and acrimonious. It brings so many negative emotions to the surface and it feels never-ending.  

It is so hard seeing someone you care about going through the emotions, legal processes and after-effects of divorce. We can often feel powerless to help them or to provide meaningful comfort, but that doesn’t mean our presence is a waste. Just being there for them is sometimes all they need. What are the things you can do as a friend to hold their hand through it all, and help them come out on the other side to be happier? Here are some practical things you can do to be a good friend during a divorce.   

Listen 

According to Motherly, the worst things we can do to a friend going through a divorce is making them feel judged. So instead of asking a lot of questions and making it feel like an interrogation, just lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on. They are going through a whole cycle of emotions, and sometimes they just need to get them out. They just need someone who can sit with them, have a glass of wine and share tell them it will be okay. Let them share how they are feeling and ask questions that encourage them to open up more. We will certainly have our own questions about what happened, but let them reveal it when they’re ready.  

Respect Their Privacy   

Instead of a friend who wants to open up, you might have someone who is still processing their emotions on their own. They won’t readily share information and this might make you worry more. But it’s so important respect this boundary. They might not even know what they are thinking or feeling, so give them time to go through that. This is within reason though, if it seems like they are sinking into a deep depression it might be time to get them to talk to a counselor.  

Find an Outlet  

 Going through a divorce takes a toll on one’s confidence and inviting your friend to some sort of activity can be very helpful in making them feel good about themselves again. Maybe you can sign up for a boxing class, swimming class or just get into lifting weights at the gym. It’s not always easy to be motivated for a workout, but having something they can use to work through their emotions physically will be a great push for you both.  

Remind them that they’re not failure  

I always hear divorced people talk about how they’ve failed by failing at that particular marriage. If your friend is going through this, you must try to pull them out of this spiral as best as you can. So many people choose to stay in unhappy marriages which affects their kids. Remind them of how strong they are to be choosing to be happy and raise their kids in a happier home. Also remind them that the divorce is a lesson they have learned which will help them move forward and find what they really want.  

Keep them from doing something rash  

Bitter divorces are usually made that way because of child custody, and when ex-spouses are at each other’s throats, all logic can go out the door. Your friend might be tempted to do something drastic like digging up dirt or using the kids as weapons in the divorce. You have to be the friend that reminds her to respect the father’s rights, even if it’s hard. If you’re unclear on whether any lines have been crossed, check out National Family Solutions and talk to your friend about it. They help families in many ways, and deal with issues like fathers rights. Ultimately destroying the kids’ father will be bad in the long-run, and when she feels irrational, you have to make sure she doesn’t do anything she’ll regret. Even with custody in the mix, there are ways to prevent an ugly divorce getting any worse. Sometimes it’s the counsel of a good friend.   

Helping a friend through a life crisis is a huge part of what real friendship is about, and divorce is a hard thing to see your friend experiencing. But if you rally around her, and support her and the kids, it will soothe your loved ones during this very painful time. Ultimately, it’s because you know she’d do the same for you!

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