With 50% of first-time marriages ending in divorce, it would be almost impossible for you to not know someone who has or is going through a divorce. And considering that 70% of divorces are initiated by women, there’s a good chance that one or more of your current girlfriends are in that situation. So how can you, as their still married friend, help and support them during this life-changing time? Having gone through a divorce myself, there are things that I wish(ed) people had known and I want to share some of the ways you can help and support your friends.
Going through a divorce is similar to dealing with a death. While it’s not the death of a person, it’s the death of a dream and a plan. But no one shows up on your doorstep with a casserole when you’re going through a divorce like they do when someone in your family dies. Dealing with the death of a marriage is hard regardless of who asked for it. And if you happen to be the person that did set the plans in motion, you’re almost always seen as the bad guy. It crushes your soul and your spirit and you walk through the days and months trying to put your life and the lives of your children back together again so that it can resemble something that looks like ‘normal’.
Yes. We thought about it. A lot. No one ever shows up to the altar on their wedding day and thinks “Ok! Let’s do this wedding thing because, in 14 ½ years, we’ll be filing papers for divorce!”. If someone is going through a divorce, it wasn’t a decision that was made lightly. Most likely there were months or years filled with therapy, talking, making compromises, pleading, begging, and crying to avoid having to go through the end of a marriage. So please don’t ask us “have you really thought about this?” because honestly, that’s probably the only thing we HAVE been thinking about during that time.
Being single again in your 40’s and 50’s sucks. The last time any of us dated was way before the online dating game was even a thing – we met our partners organically. Fast forward to 2019 when everyone has jobs, a home to keep up, kids to raise on your own (even with shared custody), hobbies, and life in general, and about the only way to meet anyone is online and believe me, it’s an interesting world. I’ve met some great people online but it takes a lot of time that I don’t necessarily have time for. You don’t have to play matchmaker, but if you happen to know someone else who’s single and think that they get along, ask if they would like to be introduced and let them take it from there!
Being excluded hurts. I’m not sure if coupled friends think it would be awkward for those of us that are single again to be around a group of couples, but what’s really hard is sitting at home alone and not being included because we’re not part of a twosome anymore. I realize that it’s not intentionally done but sometimes it feels that way. So go ahead and invite us – we may decline the invite but I would rather have that option than not being asked at all. In small towns like this, where almost everyone is boo-ed up, going through a divorce can definitely make you feel like a leper or Hester Prynne with a giant, red letter “D” slapped on your chest.
We’re not coming for your man. I’m not sure why this is even a thought in anyone’s head but apparently it is with some people. Yes, dating is hard as I stated before, but trust me just because we’re single now doesn’t mean we’re looking to wreck homes. Our homes have been turned upside down enough without adding that level of chaos to it. Don’t think anything else needs to be said about this one.
Going through a divorce is quite possibly the most stressful thing that I have ever endured and I would not wish it on anyone. I am grateful to the close girlfriends that were there for me during that time and I’ve been there a few times for others as well. So if you know someone that is going thru or has arrived at the other side of divorce, double up the compassion, and ignore them when they say that they’re fine because they’re probably wearing the superhero mask to make everyone think that all is right in there world. And if you’re up for it, show up at their door with a casserole and a bottle of wine… you have no idea how much that would mean to them.
I originally wrote a version of this post for Triad Moms on Main