What about your friends, will they stand their ground, will they let you down… That snappy little tune from the hit 90’s group TLC played in the back of my head during my divorce. So many friendships and associations were shared between my ex-husband and me, so naturally, the question of what would happen with my friends was on the forefront of my mind. Selfishly, and scarily like a five-year old on the playground I wanted to make sure my friends remained my friends. Thankfully, those that mattered are securely in tact. Some didn’t make it (boo hoo) and gratefully many blossomed out of places and with people unexpected.
Figuring out friends following divorce can be as unpredictable as the Alabama weather in April. It can be hot, cold, rainy, or tornado-laden intermittently or sometimes at the same time.
It’s tough to know who falls on what side of the proverbial fence when it comes to shared relationships had by your former spouse and you. Adding to the mix of that any inappropriate behavior, children, in-laws and shared spiritual or business associations and you just might be in for the perfect storm.
So what do you do? I really don’t have all the answers. But what I do know is that something must be done. Friendships are important especially during and after divorce. That’s the case for all involved, including the couple and their previously established support system. Sometimes sin or guilt might cause one party to isolate himself/herself. That same guilt might cause some parties to isolate themselves from the one deemed “guilty”. Embarrassment might cause some to become secluded. Misdirected anger, and other unhealthy emotions may be the cause of the dissolve of some associations. Being unaware of how to move forward with the remixed version is also often a cause for some friends not knowing what to do or even of the need to do something to let those who’ve experienced the divorce know they’re still there and care.
So what do you do? I still don’t have all the answers, but just a few suggestions from the inside looking out.
- Do something. Don’t just let friendships die because of divorce. Purposely see where each person fits in and how.
- Reach out. If you’re the person experiencing the divorce don’t isolate your friends.
- Reach out. If you’re the friends of the person experiencing the divorce don’t isolate them. You each might have to strategically change how you do things to accommodate the divorced friend’s new season in life (a couples event with a recently divorced person is not what’s happeningJ)
- Find new commonalities. If your friendship was built on your relationships as a couple or stemmed from the marriage, look for new ways to connect that aren’t centered on the marriage (or the divorce) but on other shared interests.
- Talk about it. Sit down as adults and friends who care about one another and talk about how the new friendship can look and should look in a way that’s comfortable and supportive for all, especially the one experiencing the loss.
- Revise the relationships as relationships revise. Be certain to revisit the need to adjust the friendship as time and healing takes place and divorced friends move on to different relationships.
- Don’t pass judgment on the divorcer or divorcee. (That’s self explanatory.)