Your Critical Role In Helping Your Loved One Through a Difficult Time
Whether you have a family member, friend, or colleague facing the end of their marriage, the need to support a loved one during divorce is critical to their future well-being. While divorce can be a difficult, disruptive, and painful experience for the spouses involved, it can also be challenging for those who want to help one of those spouses through their ordeal. No matter how well-intentioned they may be, a spouse’s friends and loved ones may not know the right things to say or do, especially if they have not experienced a divorce themselves.
If you are trying to support a loved one during divorce, here are some tips that can help you help them:
Listen With Compassion and Empathy
When a person is going through a difficult time, whether because of a divorce or other traumatic event, one of the most helpful things they can do for themselves is to verbalize their feelings and talk through things. They can’t do that alone. As such, one of the most important things you can do is simply listen to them. Be compassionate and understanding. Let them know they can say anything without any judgment from you. Resist the natural temptation to try to “fix” their problem and instead focus on just being there with an ear to lend or a shoulder to cry on.
Respect And Support Their Choices
As well as you know your loved one and as much as you may think you know about their marriage, you don’t really know the details and dynamics of their relationship with their spouse. There may be complexities or issues that you are unaware of, and the decision to end a marriage is a product of many internal emotions and external factors. As such, avoid passing your own judgment or questioning their judgment. Don’t push back on their choices or recommend that they change their mind. They are doing what they think is best for themselves and/or their children, and respecting their decisions is one of the most significant ways to show you support a loved one during divorce.
Offer Practical Assistance
Divorce takes a mental, emotional, physical, and financial toll, and the change in circumstances can also create plenty of practical and logistical difficulties. Make yourself available to help with day-to-day things like childcare, running errands, cooking meals, or handling household chores. Follow their lead on what would be most helpful to them.
As noted, divorce is both physically and emotionally taxing. Simply navigating the changes, upheaval, and uncertainty of the process can be overwhelming and leave little time for self-care. But attending to one’s health and well-being is critical during this time. So to help support a loved one during divorce, encourage and help facilitate their efforts to care for themselves through exercise, meditation, yoga, therapy, or whatever outlet works for them.
Respect Their Boundaries
As much as you want to help and make affirmative efforts to do so, sometimes it’s best to follow the person’s lead as to whether they want help at a particular moment or in a specific way. If they don’t want to talk about their situation or would rather spend time alone to process their thoughts and feelings, respect those boundaries and just let them know you’re there when they need you.
Offer Positive Diversions
No activity can entirely obscure or make your loved one forget about their divorce, but that does not mean they do not need a break. Encouraging engagement in activities they enjoy or picking up new hobbies is a simple way to show you support a loved one during divorce. Plan social activities they would like if they are in the mood to be out and about. Participating in positive and fulfilling activities can act as a healthy distraction, and being around friends can help counter the feelings of isolation that often come with a divorce.
Don’t Take Things Personally
The stress and mix of emotions experienced during divorce can make even the most level-headed people lose their bearings occasionally. Be prepared for mood swings or uncharacteristic behavior, and don’t take things personally if their sorrow or anger is directed at you simply because you are there. Instead, focus on the underlying pain and vulnerability they may be feeling.
Help Them Get The Other Support They Need
As helpful as you may be, your loved one will need a team to help them through their divorce, including an experienced divorce attorney, financial advisor, and other professionals. If you know of people who would fit the bill, refer your loved one to them or help them in their search.
Perkins Law: Experienced, Effective, and Empathetic Divorce Representation
The experienced Colorado Springs divorce attorneys at Perkins Law stand ready to help guide you and your loved one through the divorce process with respect, patience, and understanding. We know that no two divorces are exactly alike, and will develop an unique approach and strategy best suited to your goals and circumstances, helping you to turn the page to a bright new chapter of your life.