Not too many years ago it seemed like I was going to a wedding every other weekend. I recall a coworker commenting how now I was in the “wedding season” of life, and soon enough I would find myself in the “marriage dissolvent” season of life.
What a pessimist, I recall myself thinking.
Turns out he was right.
Years went by and my friends and I grew our families. Life seemed to be coming together nicely. Babies came and our love grew bigger than we could have imagined. At the same time, life grew complicated.
Marriages have seasons of happiness, seasons of struggle and seasons in-between. I found some of my friends struggling more than we would have anticipated when they were in the “wedding season” of life. I found those friends working harder on their marriages than they ever would have imagined was necessary. Counseling, tears, breakthroughs and disappointments.
Some of that led to stronger marriages.
Some didn’t and resulted in marriages ending and families adjusting to a different way of life.
If you find yourself in a season of friends going through separation or divorce, here are suggestions on how to support them.
1. Don’t bad mouth their spouse (ex spouse): At one point, they were married to this person. In some cases, they are the other parent to their children. If separated, they may end up back with this person. You don’t have to paint everything with rainbows but try to limit the amount you instigate with nasty things about the person, no matter what they have done.
2. Be normal: They are still the same friend they always were. They are just going through challenges. Don’t walk on eggshells around them. You provide stability for them and they may very much need that normalcy right now!
3. Give them space: While being there is important, equally so is giving them the space they need. Alone time can be healthy and a way for them to reflect and pray.
4. Help them: Maybe your kids go to the same school and you can help with pick-up so your friend can attend a church group, counseling session or just have some time to breathe. If they have become a single parent, they are likely feeling overwhelmed and the simplest of things can mean a lot to them.
5. Let them talk: Do not constantly try to “fix” their marriage or their situation. Be a safe place for them to let it all out.
6. Listen: This goes with letting them talk, but be sure you lend an excellent ear. Don’t just hear them, actually listen to them.
7. Encourage them: We never want to push our friends out of a marriage (excluding an abusive one) but we certainly can encourage them on their journey and with their future.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
8. Continue to include them in social events: Just because they are no longer “attached” doesn’t mean they should lose the right to dinner parties or other couple-type gatherings. Social events can help keep them sane!
9. Don’t try to make them sad: In many cases, a separation and divorce is a long time coming and your friend may feel a huge sense of relief versus total sadness. Don’t be a downer over the “D” word!
10. Make your support ongoing: Separation and divorce can be expensive, drawn out and exhausting. Be there for your friend not just initially, but continually. It might be a long, confusing roller coaster of a journey. Be there.
What else would you add to this list? Are you in a tough season of life with suggestions on how your friends can support you?