10 Ways to Support your Friend Going Through a Divorce
I’m officially at the age where my friends are starting to get divorced. Friends that maybe never should have gotten married. Friends that I never thought would get divorced. Friends that I met because of their divorce.
And the bottom line is that divorce sucks.
It’s messy and confusing and exhausting, and it takes a long time to sort everything out. And with kids involved (as is the case with nearly all of my friends), it then requires a lifetime of interacting with the ex – and his or her new family.
Watching a friend go through divorce can be hard because there is no instant fix that will help your friend feel better. You can’t drop off a meal and come back when she’s feeling better. It’s an ongoing situation that needs ongoing support.
So I’m sharing 10 things you can do to help a friend going through a divorce.
Ten Ways to Support a Friend Going Through a Divorce
Before we get started, 97% of my readers are women, so I’m just going to assume that you are a woman reading this and that your friend going through a divorce is also a woman.
I realize that men also get divorced, and it’s hard for them too. But for the purposes of this post, I’m talking to the ladies.
BURN IT DOWN
It “takes two to tango” and there are “two sides to every story” and blah blah blah.
But you know what? As mature and responsible as everyone tries to be about divorce these days, sometimes it really helps to just light a big old fire and burn stuff.
I am NOT suggesting that you burn down any buildings or burn any possessions of value. Or that you do anything illegal.
Please don’t do anything illegal.
For this type of fire, I’m suggesting that you help your friend burn small reminders of married life. Like her wedding album. Or the stupid lingerie that she kept in her sock drawer throughout most of her marriage.
Or maybe a picture of the ex. Or his stupid-faced girlfriend.
Whew. Sorry. Got carried away there.
Make s’mores over the fire. Toast to new beginnings, and watch the fire burn.
INTRODUCE HER TO AN AMAZING THERAPIST
If you’ve read my blog for more than a hot minute, then you know that I am a HUGE believer in therapy and counseling. My mom was a counselor, and she started sending me to therapy at the age of 5. I’ve gone on and off my entire life, and there is nothing better than finding an amazing therapist to spill your mess with.
To be clear, I’m not saying that now that your friend is getting divorced she needs a therapist.
I’m saying that everyone could benefit from a great therapist – so why not use a divorce as an excuse to get started?
TAKE HER TO GET A TATTOO
I seriously can’t think of a better time in life to get a tattoo. There is so much healing and growth (and total BS moments) that can come out of a divorce – why not get a tattoo to symbolize the absolute badass that your friend has become through it all?
Granted, I am a tattoo person, so just about any “big moment” seems like the perfect time to get a tattoo.
And – to be completely honest – I have yet to have a friend going through a divorce agree to go get a tattoo with me.
BUT – if you can get your girlfriend to get inked, my big advice is to not get anything about the ex permanently written on her body – like, “I hate Bob” or something. That should probably seem fairly obvious, but I have seen tattoos that make me wonder where their friend was for that one.
This ink should be ALL about the amazing new world your friend is entering – and all the hope and opportunity that it could bring.
CREATE NEW TRADITIONS
Divorce changes a life in so many ways, and holidays can be a doozy – especially during the first year. Be sure to check in with your friend during the holidays.
Does she have a plan for Halloween? Thanksgiving? Christmas? New Year’s Eve? Valentine’s Day? 4th of July? Her birthday?
Just be generally aware that your friend’s “normal” is all turned upside down – and this might especially be apparent during the holidays. Remember to include her (and her children if she has them during that holiday) to join you in your celebrations.
Or maybe you could create a new tradition. Maybe you take a long walk every Thanksgiving morning. Or maybe you have dinner together every New Year’s Day. This is your friend’s new normal, so be there for her as she figures it out.
DON’T PUSH DATING – OR DISCOURAGE IT
If your friend is eager to start dating after her divorce, encourage it (even if you can’t imagine anything better than eating popcorn for dinner and having total control of the remote.)
And if your friend refuses all of your best efforts to introduce her to a “nice guy” – that’s okay too. Let her enjoy her alone time for as long as she needs to.
There’s no “right” way to be happy.
DON’T LET HER CUT BANGS
This might be your very hardest battle when it comes to your friend getting a divorce, but do not – under any circumstances – let her cut bangs.
Approximately .00003% of the population looks good in bangs. (I made that up, but it is probably true.) The odds of your friend being one of them are pretty much zero.
Encourage her to dye her hair crazy colors instead. Or try some new hair tutorials on YouTube.
If she still resists, remind her that the only thing worse than going through a divorce and having to see her stupid ex several times a week to exchange kids is going through a divorce and having to see her stupid ex several times a week to exchange kids WHILE LOOKING TERRIBLE BECAUSE SHE CUT HIDEOUS BANGS THAT WILL TAKE AT LEAST A YEAR TO GROW OUT.
Save your friend from this horrible outcome. Repeat after me: NO BANGS.
HELP HER CHOOSE A NEW SCENT
A scent can stay with you forever. For my 10th birthday, my parents bought me a perfume that I loved. I doused myself in it and then went on my first-ever plane ride, where I proceeded to puke for two hours straight. To this day – 20+ years later – catching even a whiff of that scent sends my stomach rolling.
The same can be true for a lifetime of marriage. Certain scents and smells might take your friend right back to her married life. Sometimes that might be good. Other times it might be brutally hard. So why not help her choose a new scent for her new beginning?
HELP HER RISE AND GRIND
Sometimes the best way you can support a newly divorced friend with kids is to help her work through the logistics of being a newly single mom. On the mornings that she is solo with the kids, what does her new routine need to be?
Some of my friends have had no big change here because their husbands were usually at work before the kids got up for the day anyway. But others are struggling to figure out how to squeeze in their morning workout or how to get themselves ready for work while also getting the kids out the door.
Sometimes all it really takes is someone from the outside (that’s you!) to make a simple suggestion that can make everything easily fall into place.
One of my friends put a treadmill in her basement. She runs a mile and then wakes the kids up. Runs another mile and then gets the kids breakfast. Runs a last mile and then helps the kids make sure they have lunches packed, papers signed and that they’re to the bus on time.
Another friend can’t leave her kids home alone at all in the morning, so she has a team of neighbors that take turns walking her dog for her when she has the kids.
MAKE HER A MEAL
Whether your friend doesn’t see the need to make herself dinner when she doesn’t have her kids for the night or she really needs a quick meal on the nights that she does have her kids, a meal made by someone else is always a treat.
Be There for the Long Haul
Whether you convince your friend to get a tattoo (please send me a picture!) or start a new tradition of setting your resolutions together every New Year’s Day, remember that divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep being there, keep offering support, keep reminding her not to cut bangs!