Divorces impact more than the two people who are separating and their children. The stress can also affect others who love one or both spouses, such as their parents, in-laws, friends, and siblings.
But you may be at a loss about how to provide emotional support to your loved one. Or you may become overwhelmed yourself.
Here are a few tips for being there for someone getting a divorce while also caring for yourself in the process.
More than anything, your loved one needs someone to confide in. What they don’t need is unsolicited advice.
While it may be well-intentioned, you cannot know what your loved one is going through. And you may end up pushing them away instead of providing them with support.
So, focus more on asking questions and expressing sympathy than making statements or suggesting courses of action.
Get your loved one out of the house.
Divorce can feel lonely, so get your loved one out and about. It doesn’t have to be a day-long affair. Meet up for lunch, grab a cup of coffee, or go for a walk together.
The goal is simply to give your loved one social interaction. And when you part, share a hug. That physical embrace can mean a lot at a time when your friend or family member may be feeling a lack of love.
Provide child care.
For divorcing parents, childcare is often a barrier to self-care and de-stressing. So, offer to watch the kids for an hour.
Make it clear that they shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving the children for a little while. In fact, it will likely be better for all, since they’ll come back with renewed energy to focus on parenting.
Help your loved one find emotional support.
You have your own life, so even if you want to, you can’t be there for your loved one all the time. If you find that you are struggling to meet the demands of your own life and be there for your loved one, encourage them to find outside emotional support.
There are plenty of resources available, such as divorce support groups, therapists, and even divorce classes.
Encourage your loved one to get legal help.
Especially if your loved one is just separated, they may have a lot of fears, questions, and concerns about the process. Many people make the mistake of trying to “save money” by forgoing legal counsel and going it alone. But the truth is this can lead to larger costs in the long run, particularly if the other spouse does have an attorney.
Most law firms, including The Law Office of Dana Pechersky, offer free consultations. This provides an opportunity to find an attorney with the right personality and attitude, and it is also a time to discuss options for payment. In some cases, you may be able to ask the court to require your spouse to pay.
Check in with yourself.
When someone you love is going through a difficult time, it can be easy to get down, too.
Are you taking care of yourself? After all, you’re not of much help to your loved one if you are physically or emotionally struggling yourself.
Eat healthy meals. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Go out and have fun yourself.
That way, you’ll have more physical and mental energy to be there for your friend or family member.