Supporting Friends During Divorce

by Janice

Marriage can be hard — really, really hard. But I bet most people would agree that divorce can be even harder!

Lately, a couple of Susan and my friends have had to face going through the nightmare of divorce. It has made us stop and think a lot about divorce and the effect it has on families — and especially on stay at home parents.

As if the divorce itself isn’t hard enough on them and their children, stay at home or work at home moms (or dads) often also have the added complication of having to return to the work force!

All of a sudden a mom or dad has to find (and afford!) childcare, look for work, and begin a completely new routine for her family. I can’t even imagine!

And what do those changes do to the children? Kids that are used to having a parent home full time – maybe even being homeschooled by their parent – now have to deal with a completely different schedule.

My heart breaks for everyone involved!

So I was wondering, for those of you who may have been through a divorce, how can friends best help and support someone going through a divorce? What advice do you have for parents who are going through a divorce?

And if you are facing having to rebuild your life after divorce, what support do you wish you had from the people around you?



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CR August 6, 2009 at 6:55 am

Honestly, I think listening is the best thing you can do and being supportive of the range of emotions someone may go through…I would definitely encourage them to connect with a support group, as there is power in being able to have someone who’s been there/done that…

What I’ve been thinking about in regards to your various sister sites is maybe having something for step-families.

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2 Carie August 6, 2009 at 8:15 am

I haven’t been through divorce–Thank You, God!–but my husband has separated from us twice, and each time, I’ve had to consider all of this.

I would agree that you can support someone if you listen. But I was shocked at the financial challenges and the disruption to the children that separation created. I would suggest that once or twice a month, you take a meal over, and if you are taking your child(ren) somewhere, perhaps give the child(ren) of this family a treat and the parent a break and take the children with you.

Divorce is a horrible thing. I feel so much sympathy, particularly for SAHMs who go through divorce and have to radically change their and their children’s lifestyle. God bless them!

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3 Amy August 6, 2009 at 8:21 am

My ex husband I separated 3 years ago and it was the worst thing I ever had to go through. First and foremost, people need to realize that it is not the end of the world, and that life will go on and possibly be much better than before. Although it is hard to believe at the time and I never thought I would get through it, I am a much stronger and better person for it today. Secondly, the best thing anyone can do is listen. Talking about things and sorting through your feelings are the number one thing I chose to seek from this experience. It really helped a lot.

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4 Pam August 6, 2009 at 9:04 am

My husband left us almost 4 years ago. I was, as you said, homeschooling at the time. to say that it was a shock to us all is a understatement if there ever was one. some days i feel like we are doing okay and going to make it, but i still have days that i wonder if we will survive it all. We have had incredible support. Every area of our lives i have felt support. Financial support, physical support, mental support, friends being there to listen, babysitting, food brought in. I don’t know how I would have ever gotten this far outside of the grace of God and the help of the people around us. Being a friend is HUGE, but there are so many other things that you can do that are important too… how often I have gotten a check in the mail sent anonymously or not. I’ve gotten bills, opened them and found they were already paid by someone. Ive had meals brought to my doorstep. Ive had people come clean my house. Ive had people pay a baby sitter. Invite me to Bible Study. Take me shopping. Out to lunch. do things with my kids. & pray. pray. pray. thanks for doing this post, divorce is something that leaves you changed forever, it can be changed for good or bad though that is for sure.

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5 brandy August 6, 2009 at 9:45 am

just be a good support system and listen. also try and take her out and try and take her mind off of it. it id very hard sitting at home thinking about it.

make your kids your #1 priority. i know when my parents divorced, i felt alone and that in some ways it was my fault, and thats why no one would tellme anything. it’s horrable, but let your kids know what is going on and that the parents still love them no matter what

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6 Shelly August 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

This is off topic, but I want to thank you for the great giveaway I entered a few months ago. I posted about it here:

http://atticgirl.blogspot.com/2009/08/things-i-love-thursday-imax-fun-angel.html

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7 Jennifer August 6, 2009 at 11:34 am

Great post Janice!

While I haven’t gone through divorce, my parents did, and like everyone else, I have several friends who have.

Be there. Invite them over. Help out with the kids when you can.

From what I understand, weekends are particularly hard when you go from couple to single, because everyone is with their families so think about these times in particular. Church is hard too.

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8 Bradi Nathan August 6, 2009 at 11:59 am

My brother is going through a divorce… I am saddened every time he tells me how quiet the house is or how alone he feels when “she” has the kids. So now my family steps in to help create some NOISE! A bit of distraction never hurts.

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9 Janice August 6, 2009 at 1:56 pm

CR – that is a great idea about a sister site for step families. Thanks – we will have to consider that for sure.

Carie – thanks for sharing from your experiences! I am happy for you that you have been able to avoid divorce. God bless!

Amy – thanks for sharing! People need to hear from others who have been through it to know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Pam – I am so sorry for what you have had to go through. What incredible support you have had!!! How wonderful!!! Thank you for those ideas about how to support our friends.

Brandi and Bradi – yes, some distraction, fun and noise must come in handy! Thanks for those ideas and for sharing from your experiences.

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10 r.k. rytaran August 6, 2009 at 2:01 pm

for a vivid depiction of broken families and the effects upon children, check out the new true novel from eloquent books-Euclid Avenue

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11 Shawna August 6, 2009 at 5:35 pm

I am three months into my separation from my husband. I chose to leave him. I am very involved in my church and so he, by association, is also considered very involved. Of all of the friends that I/We have that have created an issue, it is the church friends. They have been hateful at times. I was accused of loosing my mind. I have been left in lurch by them. All in all, very little true support. I found that the same people that had so much respect for me no longer did. Just like that. They didn’t know why I left (constant emotional abuse) they didn’t care. In their mind I had done something that was out of character and they were angry with me for “going crazy” and sympathizing with him because he was so terribly sad.

I guess what I would say is geared specifically toward church families. I would remind them that all they see is what goes on on Sunday mornings and that isn’t always a true and accurate display of character. I recognize in retrospect that I should have called him out on his deceitfulness all along. Perhaps they wouldn’t have responded that way. It is just hard to know what to do and I didn’t feel like blabbing about how my husband was apparently a sociopath on Sunday mornings was appropriate or Godly.

Hindsight.

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12 Bonnie August 7, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I’m a divorcee (finalized 12-11-07) and would have to say that the very best thing you can do is to understand. Don’t judge and just be patient. No matter how well you know someone you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. My family was a wonderful support system and I re-connected with an old sweetheart (whom I am still with and can say this is where I belong). Try not to pry; the hardest thing for me was when people were trying to be supportive and understanding but I ended up feeling like i was being interrogated. Sometimes it was best just to have someone to sit with me. Also, please please don’t take it personal if they don’t want to hang out with you and your significant other or the whole family … it can easily remind them of what they are “losing” BUT if you know something bad is going on no matter how much you don’t want your friend “mad” or “upset” with you; step in and help them help themselves!!

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13 trisha August 8, 2009 at 6:36 pm

my best friend is going through a divorce right now. I am just supporting her by listening to her, letting her change her mind 2 seconds later, say how she feels, cries, and goes through a ton of emotions. It doesnt matter to me if she stays or goes (although she is going) because she is my best friend no matter WHAT.

Unfortunately we live apart from each other so the occasional flowers dont hurt, which i sent over today.

:-)

trisha

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14 Petula August 11, 2009 at 11:22 pm

This is such a fresh and loaded topic for me. I am going through a divorce and have been separated for a little over two years. Before I go off on a tangent, let me answer the question: I think the best way to support friends during a divorce is to be a true friend. For instance, I am one of those WAH/SAH moms you spoke about. I had three children in a little over three years and I have four children altogether. To say that times are tough financially is an extreme understatement. It would be nice if “friends” would stop by with a plate of food or invite me for a cup of coffee and actually follow through. Maybe they can pick up one of the kids or come by to chat.

Even when I put out a distress call that I’m in need, which is rare, of food, money or something fixed on the house. I don’t hear from anyone. I either get a bunch of advice that I can’t implement or silence. I understand times are tough for everyone, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask if my “friend” asks her husband or someone else she knows to come help me with yard work. Some support doesn’t cost a dime. It’s the truly being there that’s most important.

Like Shawna, I belonged to a church since 1997 and I haven’t heard from anyone since I stopped going. It was “maternity leave” in the beginning, but when months passed I still heard from no one. Nor did anyone visit when my oldest daughter was in the hospital and I sat with her while struggling with a young baby. This has probably been the most rough and lonely time of my life.

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15 Petula August 11, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Pam, That’s absolutely amazing. If only I had 10 percent of the support you’ve had…

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