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Supporting a friend through divorce

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  • #873330 Reply
    avatarSnoopy128
    Guest

    Last week, in a discussion with friend A, I learned that friend B, who just got married in summer 2019 (I went to her bachelorette and wedding) is separated and in the process of getting divorced. I’m at a loss for how to support her through this process.

    For reference: I don’t live in the same city as friend B, but we try and meet up whenever I’m in town for a coffee (2-3 times a year) and text occasionally inbetween. She is generally a poor texter/communicator, so in person stuff is really our method of catch up. Friend B also didn’t mention her divorce during our happy Christmas/new years text exchange a few weeks ago although she did offer up a “this year will be a lot quieter” when discussing our plans for the year. I assumed at the time it was in reference to not having to plan a wedding and honeymoon, but now realize it was likely a reference to not having to deal with said wedding and honeymoon, AND finding out about spouse cheating, and therapy and separating all within 6 months.
    Our friend group commonly does share big news like this between each other (not in a gossipy way) and it would be normal for her to assumed I already knew about her divorce from others.

    So my questions are:
    How do I best support her through this process, given she hasn’t actually told me and I don’t think text is the way to really have this conversation? I won’t be back in town till late spring when I may see her at another friend’s bachelorette.
    Do I just call (which is so out of the norm for us that she may not even call back)? Do I text saying I heard and I’m there for her?

    This is the first friend I have getting divorced, so I’m a little lost. I want to tell her good job for being strong and leaving this loser, but I also don’t want to assume how she’s feeling and where she is in the process.

    #873331 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    Don’t do or say anything yet, let her share it or not, the way she wants to, in her own time. And then let her frame and tell the story the way she wants, don’t assume you know how she is or isn’t feeling, just let her talk, don’t give advice, ask her how she feels, and basically just let her tell you. Be really really careful to withhold offering any opinion, it’s important to just listen.

    (I was married at 21 and divorced at 28).

    #873332 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    In case it’s not super clear, I would NOT reach out and say you heard.

    And don’t call him a loser or congratulate her on leaving him or being strong… just take your cues from her. If she shares a narrative in which she feels strong for leaving him, say that’s great. If she calls him a loser, you can be like, “yeah…” but you don’t want her to feel like everyone thought the guy she married was a loser.

    #873474 Reply
    avatarSnoopy128
    Guest

    Thanks, Kate.
    I won’t reach out and will let her tell me when she’s ready. And once she does, I’ll take the conversation cues from her.

    #873475 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    I mean, you can reach out as/if you normally would, but just don’t mention it. I feel like this is one of those situations where you (the divorcee) want to process it and control the narrative. It’s not like a death where you want people to reach out and say they’re sorry and offer help.

    #873478 Reply
    avatarLisforLeslie
    Guest

    No one wants to hear that people are talking about them (well not negatively anyway). Let her share whatever she’s ready to share. If she bitches about him you can say things like “I hate that you’re hurting like you are.” or something to that effect. Never talk bad because you don’t know what will happen. They fight about something, she tells him all the terrible things her friends said about him then they get back together and he demands she cut all of those people off.

    #873512 Reply
    avatarbloodymediocrity
    Participant

    It’s good to not assume you know how she is feeling. My divorce was overall pretty acrimonious, all things considered, and it was really frustrating when people would try to talk shit about my ex when we’re still actually pretty friendly, or assume I was angry, when really, I was more just confused and anxious about the future. Listen to them, and let them take the lead. If they want to talk, that’s great, but they also might just want to hang out.

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