The number one question I get asked by friends and family member when a loved one is going through divorce is, “How can I help?” Therefore, I came up with 3 things friends and family members can do to support a woman going through the divorce process.
1. Be encouraging and positive.
There is a lot of grieving that happens when women divorce. I have found that if friends and family members stay positive and supportive it can make a significant difference in their life because the road is not going to be easy. I find a lot of women are not in this situation by choice. They didn’t want this. They wanted to stay married and they didn’t see this coming. As friends and family, we need to encourage them and stay positive. Divorce can come with a lot of introspective and can give women the opportunity for a new chapter in life. Divorce can bring wonderful changes, but it will be painful to go through. As a friend or family member you might want to help your loved one through this process by helping to come up with a plan for their new life and create opportunities that will benefit them in the future. This process will take a toll as it is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. I let our clients know we are going to work slow and steady so we can be deliberate and strategic so we can attain their goals. This may seem like it goes on forever and it will be difficult, but it will be worth it in the end. Positive friends and family members creating a strong support system will be key to help loved ones weather the storm.
2. Have a girl’s night.
When you are going through a divorce your social circles will change. As a friend, you need to make time to get together with your girlfriend (without your husband) and go out to the movies, have lunch or go to the beach. Create new activities for just the girls and make time to regularly get together. You need to be sensitive that it might not be easy for your friend to go out with both you and your husband, it could be very awkward. Change is hard and as friends it is our duty to help them through this tough time. Just be there for her and encourage her to get out of the house. This may be especially prevalent if the ex-husband has the kids for the weekend. We do not want to leave her sitting in the house missing her kids, as friends we need to make time to take her to lunch and attend an exercise class together. Alone time can be scary and it can be sad. This is an excellent opportunity for you to support your friend and take her out.
3. Don’t be judgmental.
Your friend or family member is going through a divorce and she’s going to make a lot of decisions, maybe more decisions than she’s ever had to make on her own before. These decisions are going to affect the rest of her life. In doing so, it can be easy to criticize the decisions that are being made. It is not easy to go through a divorce and understand that your friend does have an attorney that should advise her through this process. (However, if she doesn’t have an attorney, that’s a good point to have judgement and inform her she needs to see one.) It is important as a friend or family member to not get invested in a specific outcome for your friend’s divorce because her goals may not be what you think they should be. Be careful not to dictate what you think that person should do even if you’ve gone through divorce yourself. Divorce is different each time and you don’t know what that marriage was like on the inside. Only those two people know what went on so be careful about offering your opinion. Women going through divorce have a lot on their plate and you should know if they have a good attorney they are structing their divorce based on where they are going, not where they’ve been. In fact, that is a great discussion to have with a friend or family member to show support – ask them where they want to be in three years.
Sometimes it is hard for parents to see the future. Women find it difficult at any age to let their parents know the marriage is over. They worry about their parent’s opinion. But truthfully speaking, parents need to encourage their daughters through this process and not remain negative. Many times, parents do not have all the facts. There may be compromises on visitation rights or money and many do not want to have this discussion with their parents. Women are worried their parents will judge them and this adds a whole other stress level to the divorce. Parents need to be encouraging and supportive through the process and not make any judgements. This is easier said than done. However, parents need to know their daughter is represented by a reputable attorney who will make sure she stays informed so she makes good decisions.
It is hard to go through a divorce. That is why it is crucial to have friends and family members rally and ask how they can help. We need to create a circle of positivity and encourage our loved one to get through this because a new life is waiting for them and it’s going to be great.
Author Heather Quick is the CEO and founder of Florida Women’s Law Group, divorce and family law for women located in Jacksonville and Winter Park. For more information please contact Florida Women’s Law Group at (844)607-0012 or floridawomenslawgroup.com.