Friends and Your Divorce

group of young women on coffee break, enjoying in discussionThe difficult time of separation or divorce is emotionally and sometimes financially stressful. Unless you’ve been through it before, you are sailing uncharted waters. During this time, having a good support system is very important. You may need your friends more than ever. That said, for any of your friends that have not experienced separation or divorce themselves, it can be hard to relate to what you are going through. They may not understand your choices, especially if you initiated the divorce. They might not get that it was the best of some not-very-good options, and realize just how hard it is for you. Some may even be a little jealous of your new–found ‘freedom’.

Even as you need your friends, you must remember that the situation is difficult for them as well. Try to stay in touch, and offer opportunities for them to express any feelings they might have, so you can keep the communication open. If you reach out to a friend and they don’t respond, let them go. You don’t need to spend energy trying to convince them to stay right now. People who were mutual friends of you and your ex may feel uncomfortable maintaining the friendship with one or both of you after the split. Bashing your ex, or revealing intimate details of the problems in your relationship can push them away. Even if what your ex is telling them makes them take your ex’s side initially, with time, by taking the high road, you may find them back in your court.

You want to stay in touch with the friends who will be supportive. Your close friends should be available to you for emotional support. If you are comfortable and it is appropriate, these friends might also be called on to help you network for a new job, look for an apartment or give your kids a ride once in a while. As important as it is to keep in touch with and ask for help from trusted friends, it is equally important to know how much to ask of them.

Be mindful of how much complaining you are doing and negative feelings you are expressing. While friends may be very accommodating, after awhile it may become too much for them to enjoy being with you. If you have very strong feelings, or they continue for a long time, a therapist can help you sort through those feelings and offer you constructive ways to handle them so you can heal and move forward. Using a divorce coach is another way to be supported through the process in areas that your friends or therapist can’t help with.

So allow your friendships to help you through this difficult time, but remember that even in periods of difficulty, friendships are a two way street. Keep in mind how much support is available from each relationship so you don’t overburden it, and always express your gratitude to your friends for their support.

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