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Someone I Love Is Divorcing—What Should I Do?

Updated: Sep 5, 2023




by Laura Petherbridge



“My mother said if I had been a better housekeeper my husband wouldn’t have left me

for another woman,” the young woman said, weeping uncontrollably. Overnight she

discovered that everything she believed about her marriage and husband was a lie. He

had a secret life complete with a private bank account and lover.


As life spun out of control, she sought reassurance from her mother’s arms. But instead

of receiving consolation, her mother’s piercing words plunged a knife more deeply into

her already battered heart. Better spaghetti sauce or a cleaner toilet was not going to

repair this marriage.

Her mother was wrong.


If this lady’s husband had died a squadron of women would have marched into her home

supporting her with tuna casseroles, spa gift cards, and bouquets of flowers. But the death

of a marriage doesn’t end with a funeral. Therefore, most people don’t know how to

respond.



Divorce produces overwhelming layers of loss. Many people lose their home, finances,

friends, pets, relatives, health insurance, time with the children, and even church.

Therefore, when a friend is suffering through divorce it’s best to share words that are

healing channels rather than hurtful ones.


You may feel that it’s important to share an opinion, or a bible verse, with your friend,

but weigh your words careful. Remember you don’t know all the details.

When I was divorcing a person said to me, “it takes two to get divorced. You must have

done something to make him want another woman.” It emotionally damaged me for

months as I was already hating myself for being such a failure.


Although some people say hurtful things, others desire to reach out during divorce but

don’t know how. Here is a list of things that might help:


BE AVAILABLE:

 Make time for your friend and discover the most difficult time of the week.

 Listen and don’t rush the conversation. What people need to know is that

someone cares and hears their pain.

 Your loved one will be less likely to fall into the trap of a rebound relationship

if he/she has a strong support system.


BE SUPPORTIVE:

 Help the person to find a good Christian counselor who specializes in the issues

contributing to the divorce. Marriage counseling can be the worst option if the

spouse is manipulative, addicted, or abusive. Examples: alcohol or drug abuse,

domestic violence, pornography addiction, adultery and co-dependency.



 Research web sites, classes, or books to share that address the situation.

 Strongly encourage your loved one and the children to attend a support group.

If he/she is intimidated offer to accompany your friend to the first session.

 Accompany the person to court dates or difficult events such as weddings or

funerals.

 Remember your friend’s pain on special occasions such as birthdays,

anniversary, etc.

 Sit with your friend in church. Often the loneliest time during divorce is

Sunday morning.

 Recognize that his/her social life has drastically changed; treat a same sex

friend to dinner or pizza and a movie.

 Surprise a female friend with new bed linens, a comfortable pillow, or a new

nightgown. It will help her feel like a woman again.

 Ask a male friend to join you for a fun event such as camping, sports game, or

car racing.


BE UNDERSTANDING:

 Grief takes time to overcome. There is an incorrect assumption that people get

over divorce quickly.

 Love your friend unconditionally. This doesn’t mean you must approve of all

his/her choices. Merely be careful to weigh your words. Is God nudging you, or

are YOU desiring to spout bible verses.

 Listen for suicide threats and don’t ignore them.


 Give your friend a hug.

The bed is empty, the house feels cold. This person

needs human touch.

 Discern when to demonstrate “tough love.” Seek counsel from a divorce

recovery facilitator or counselor if necessary.


BE USEFUL:

 Help him/her create a new financial budget and find affordable housing. Seek

help from within the church if necessary.

 Review the immediate financial needs. The former spouse may be refusing to

help with day-to-day things such as: attorney fees, utilities, childcare,

counseling, car maintenance, groceries, and daily household expenses.

 Fill the freezer with casseroles or easy-to-fix meals. His/her concentration level

is low. One less thing to think about is a blessing.

 Offer to store family photographs until the pain lessens.


DON’T

 Lend money unless you are okay with never getting it back.

Otherwise, it will

strain the relationship.

 Act offended if your friend doesn’t seem grateful for your help. It may take

time for the person to recognize your sacrifice.

 Give advice unless asked. Exceptions include: if the kids are being neglected

or the utilities are about to be terminated.

 Assume that offering help gives you the right to voice an opinion.


 Bash the former spouse, especially in front of the children.

 Lie to the kids or pump them for information. This creates tremendous stress

for their wounded minds.

 Share the details of your friend’s situation with others.

 Assume you must pick sides. You can remain friends without turning against

the other spouse.

 Visit places that trigger painful memories.

 Fix your friend up with a date. Don’t even think about it.

 Assume your friend still feels welcome at church. Often those ostracized by

the church during divorce, leave forever.


I didn’t defend myself to the woman who made that hurtful comment to me. I was in

shock. But I wanted to scream, “It takes two to get married, but only one to get

divorced.” It’s been thirty-nine years since that woman inflicted that stab to my tortured

heart. I forgave her long ago, but I still remember the pain.


Fortunately, the weeping woman in this article had found an excellent Christian divorce

recovery support group. New friendships provided a haven where she discovered her

identity and worth in Christ, not a spouse. Healed from the sorrow, she now works in

Christian ministry full time.



Won’t you consider reaching out to someone who has lost a spouse through divorce?

Copyright © 2023 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved.



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