Helping a Best Friend Through Divorce

Significant others may be temporary, but best friends are forever. Your BFF’s marriage is over, and you’re needed now more than ever. Your job as best friend is to navigate the fine line between support and smothering. These guidelines will help you act as a lifeline through the storm of your friend’s divorce:

Childcare and Chores
From mediation sessions to divorce court hearings, your friend’s life now revolves around stressful legal proceedings. Home life is a disaster. Offer free babysitting or assistance with various errands or chores. Deliver a casserole or a batch of cookies. Small gestures make all the difference.

Plan Fun Outings
Distraction is everything right now, but there will be days when your friend doesn’t want to leave the couch. Arrange a Netflix session, or plan a can’t-miss outing. If your friend complained of feeling restricted while married, plan a night out as a reminder of newfound freedom.

Avoid Preaching
In difficult situations, divorcees don’t want advice; they want a shoulder to cry on. Let your friend vent. Well-meaning advice when offered unprompted may come across as preachy. If you’re currently in a happy relationship, keep all talk of your fantastic family life to a minimum. If you’re recently divorced, wait until your friend asks to hear your horror stories.

No Smothering
You excel at playing the role of supportive friend. Unfortunately, your best bud doesn’t want 24/7 nurturing. Let your friend know you’re always there to help, and then back off. You’ll know when your presence is actually needed.

Don’t Harass the Ex
If you and your best friend have mutual friends, you’ll likely eventually run into the dreaded ex. Be polite, but reserved. Don’t betray trust by sharing secrets, and avoid playing the go-between. Except under unusual circumstances, the topic of divorce should be off the table.

Support Your Friend as He or She Reenters the Dating World
Your friend may need insight about the rules of the road as a newly single person. It might be years or even decades since her last first date. Ask for permission before playing matchmaker. If you have recent experience in the world of online dating, consider offering to set up a profile that showcases your friend’s unique traits. Provide encouragement after bad dates; and don’t judge if she chooses to abstain from dating for a while.

What your friend really likely needs right now is an effective family law attorney to help develop a strategic plan to handle the divorce and achieve a favorable outcome.

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