“what can I do?”
The divorce process is certainly difficult for the couple going through it, but it can be equally difficult for their friends. What do you say? What do you do? Who do you support?
If you have a relationship with both the husband and wife, it may be very difficult not to get caught in between them, particularly because circumstances are usually adversarial.
If you wish to maintain your relationships with both, it is very important not to take sides. You need to make it clear to each of them, separately, that you are there for them, to listen to and support them, but that you will remain neutral and not side with one or the other.
Picking sides, or attempting to side with both, will not only end up hurting them, but it will hurt you because they may feel you are being disloyal. One party may get angry and decide they would rather not continue your relationship, which is unfortunate but may very well happen.
If you are friends with only one of the parties, it is important that you not fuel any of the anger that your friend may be feeling towards his or her spouse. There are always two sides to a story. Your role as a friend is neither to pick one of those sides, nor overtly blame your friend’s partner, as that may only serve to exacerbate your friend’s emotional state.
Be willing to listen. Often, not saying anything can be the best gift you have to offer. Your friends will undoubtedly endure volatile periods and feelings, including anger, sadness, hopelessness, frustration, guilt, blame, shame, and fear. Being there to listen and comfort them during these difficult and sometimes unpredictable times, will be more helpful and important to them than they may know or realize in the moment.
If your friend asks you for help, you may suggest that they get as much information as they can about the process. Of course, a mediator is a good place to start. I offer a free consultation to explain the process and answer questions that the divorcing couple might have, as well as help them assess if mediation is the right path for them. If they need legal or financial advice, the mediator can refer them to someone after helping them narrow down exactly the kind of questions they need answered.
The very best way in which you can help your friends is by being “there” for them, making yourself part of their emotional support system and letting them know that.
Do you know a friend or colleague whom you feel would find this article relevant? Please feel free to forward this article to them.
If you have any questions or concerns about Mediation,
or would like to schedule a no fee mediation consultation ,
please don’t hesitate to contact me today!
jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator divorce and family mediation upper east side of manhattan (nyc) new york, ny (212) 472-8626 firstname.lastname@example.org connect on