You know the quote, the one about friendship that you see on Pinterest all of the time, “I would rather have four quarters than 100 pennies” – it’s the truth. And unfortunately, nothing will help you figure that out more than going through a divorce. I wish I could go back in time and chose a different attorney (that’s for another post) but the one thing that she told me that was SOOO important for me to hear, was that I needed my friends more than ever while I was on this ride. And let me tell you, nothing could have been more true. That is, unless you have a money tree in the backyard so that you can pay your attorney to become your therapist to listen to you every time that your ex makes a stupid decision. You will need that person, desperately need them, so that you can pick up the phone and text or call about how your ex thinks it’s fun to call you fat while you are pregnant or tells you that his new girlfriend will do a better job parenting the kids than you or when he won’t let the kids talk to you on Christmas morning, because your only other alternative is to hand every cent you have to your attorney.
So to you, the divorcee – I write this post so that you can understand what you will experience and how to grow those close relationships, and to you, the friend of the divorcee, I write this post so that you can understand how you can be a support for your friend.
Here’s the bad news. You’re going to lose friends. A lot of them. You’ll likely lose the following friends:
- Any married couples that you’ve gained during your marriage.
- Any friends that were his friends before your marriage.
- If you’re a church-goer, you’ll probably lose those friends.
- Any friends that have a husband that’s insecure.
To expand, I think that my first two points are obvious. The married-couple friends that you’ve gained during your marriage will feel caught in the middle and I can guarantee that even if you confide in one of the spouses, if the other is close to your ex, you’ll always wonder if they will break your confidence and let it get back to your ex. It’s ok. Be understanding and don’t try to force anything, especially in the beginning. You’ll be surprised when one or two reach out to you a year or so later, when the dust has started to settle, to have lunch and catch up because there will be more to your life than just this divorce, to catch up on.
His friends that you thought you had grown close to during your marriage…they’ll probably drop you like a bad habit. But do you really blame them?? They’re probably some of his closest, lifelong, friends and they will always have his back. And guess what, they probably understand more about your ex than you realize so take comfort that they “get it” but they will always support him so be understanding in the fact that you’ll need to just let them go.
My third point probably stings the worst, at least to me it did. These are friends that you have grown close to because of a deepening of your faith in God, which is a very intimate thing. When these friends find out that you are getting divorced it rocks their world because it goes against everything that is in the Bible. Handling divorce may be difficult for them because they are likely having a hard time differentiating between “loving the sinner” versus “loving the sin”. The only piece of advice that I can give to you, because in all honesty I’m still working through this, is to be patient with these friends. Try your best to move on and learn to treat others with the respect and love that you didn’t receive so that you may positively affect someone else one day. Understand that they don’t know what to say to you or how to act, so say hi and exchange pleasantries and know that God is truly the only one that knows your struggles and understands where you are in life. And the best part is that the one other person that has been through a divorce that you attend church with, will reach out to you and will be a shoulder to lean on, and you won’t feel like an outcast or so ‘alone’ anymore.
I’ll make the explanation to my last point brief. From my experience, if a friend is married to someone that is insecure, the insecure spouse will think that you are a man-hating, love-hating, marriage-hating person and will likely be afraid that you will convince their spouse (your friend) to leave them. Believe it or not, it happens. Try your best to be understanding. Once the husband sees that you are not going to convince his wife to leave him, the reins will be loosened and you’ll be able to rekindle your friendship.
The good news – the friends you’ll keep that you will text at midnight once a week: the ride-or-die three (or four or five) will be there for you through thick and thin. Treasure these friendships. Thank them (I don’t do it enough, so thank you R, M, C and K)…a lot…because you’re draining them and it hurts them to see you hurting. Invest in them as much as they invest in you. Not only will this build your friendship, it will help you focus on something other than just your situation. And make sure that you thank your family as much as possible. They are each on this ride with you whether you realize it or not. Let them help you, let them be there for you; they want to do these things because they want to ‘fix’ what you are going through, just don’t forget to invest into them what you’ve received.
Dear Friend of the Divorcee,
If you are an acquaintance or fall into any of the categories I listed for the Divorcee, all the divorcee needs is to see that someone cares. All your friend wants is for someone to ask how they are doing. When they tell you that they are good, ask again, “really, how are you doing?” That’s it. Asking that one question with sincerity behind it can soften the hardest shell and bring comfort to those on this ride because they will know that someone really truly cares how they are doing.
Those going through divorce, especially those with children, are great at putting on a smile when they are in social settings. Speaking from personal experience, I never wanted to burden someone with my drama, so unless I felt that someone was really wanting and had the time to hear my story, I smiled and said “everything is good”. But when you run into someone that really cares and wants to know how you are doing, you feel valued and it means more than you’ll ever know. And to be honest, you may still hear, “everything is good”, but I promise that you’ve made that person’s day complete and they’ll walk a little lighter knowing that someone stepped out of their comfort zone to show them that they are valued.
I know that running into a friend/acquaintance that is going through a divorce at the grocery can be awkward because you don’t know what to say, but I promise those five words, “really, how are you doing?”, will do more for them than you’ll ever know and many times it will be just what they needed at the just the right time.
Shortly after I filed for divorce, I received a card in the mail that is so valuable to me that I keep it in my safe. It’s so valuable to me because this encouragement card came from a person that I had only spent about 15-20 days with over a span of three years, about 8 years ago, and the card came at just the right moment when I was at my weakest, most worn down, most exhausted point in the divorce. The card she sent only had a few sentences in it but it made me feel important and valued, something that was far opposite than I had been dealing with. She will never fully understand the depths that she pulled me out of that day with just a few handwritten sentences simply because she cared enough to step out of her comfort zone and drop that card in the mail. The smallest gestures can mean the world to someone.
If you are the friend that is close enough that you can text them a dirty joke…then keep doing it, it is very likely that you will send them that dirty joke at just the right moment. The moment when they thought that they were going to lose their minds, your joke made them laugh and sucked them out of the hole that they were in.
When you’ve tried texting them five times over a period of 24-48 hours and received zero response, take solace in the fact that they are seeing your texts and they mean more than you’ll ever know but they are having a tough moment that they need to crawl out of first before they respond (unless you fear for their safety then you know the number to call…911). It could also be that because they are now a single parent, the daily parental duties have sucked the life out of them so instead of partying like rockstar, they just want to crawl in bed by 9pm and go to sleep. Be patient, we love you and are so thankful for you and couldn’t keep our heads above water if it weren’t for you. We feel like we are taking advantage of you but we promise to repay your investment of friendship one day soon…just hang on a little longer please.
Be ‘real’ with us and offer advice or suggestions…just be gentle. We are broken so we are sensitive but we need your help and your feedback. But don’t always feel like you have to have the answers because sometimes we just need to vent. Knowing that someone is there for us means everything and helps us keep our sanity.
Another great thing about best friends is that they’ll give your ex an evil look every time that they run into them. 🙂 I’ll never forget my first Thanksgiving away from my kids, one of my best friends was with me when the boys dad arrived to pick them up. She walked ahead of me just so she could stare him down. I know that may sound silly or immature, but man, it felt good to know that I had someone in my corner, even if it was just to give someone a glare. Thank you for being our best friends.
Thank you to everyone for your friendship and kindness. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without you. And a big thank you to my hubby for putting up with me and my friends and for being my best friend. 🙂