What are the rules of engagement when dealing with a friend going through a divorce? Should you ask them specifics about it, or talk about the weather? Do you cry along with them, find them a good attorney, or keep refilling their wine glass?
The truth is: all of the above. And when you can't read what they're feeling at any particular moment, don't be afraid of saying the wrong thing as so many people are.
Ask your friend exactly what they need. Divorce is a roller coaster of emotions and your wounded pal will need different things at different times.
While everyone has their own way of dealing with divorce, and there are some obvious things you can do as a friend, there are a few lesser known guidelines that will help you.
Never tell the prospective resingled that they are strong.
This is a very common mistake made by friends and acquaintances alike, and it's certainly understandable. However, hearing that you're strong once is great, twice is nice, but when the scales tip into double digits, it's hard to keep from yakking.
I remember wanting to be weak and self-pitying, at least for a moment or two, but when everyone is telling you that you're strong, you're obligated to live up to it. As a friend, you need to allow your soon-to-be divorced teammate time to wallow. In fact, break out your pompoms and encourage it. "Give me an S, give me a U, give me a C and a K! What's that spell?" But just don't let it go on for too long.
Help them redecorate their bedroom.
Yes, the bedroom is indeed where all of the magic happens--but not anymore. Those intimate moments that rocked your friend's world are gone, and the resingled need to see their bedroom from a fresh perspective. If they don't, they'll be roaming the halls at all hours of the night straightening out their linen closets.
Move the furniture around, buy a new duvet and decorative pillows, most especially, replace that memory-laden mattress. Oh, and hit up HomeGoods for some porcelain nudes to remind your friend that their mojo will return and at some point there will be a new bed buddy.
This is key to lifting the injured party's spirit. Even in a "successful" divorce when your ex is basically a good person, there is anger, and that anger has to be dealt with. A true friend will help relieve the sufferer of their anger. Sure a therapist is the obvious answer for this but it's not always possible to schedule your anger once a week for an hour.
So the next time you visit your resingled friend, bring a voodoo doll in the perpetrator's likeness along with you. Find residual DNA from the offender. Surely there's a rogue hair or blood spattering somewhere in the house. Light some candles and sit your pal down. It's your duty as a friend to begin by saying something negative about the former significant other. If you need to, let loose with a few more unseemly gems. Your friend is probably too afraid to unleash their own rage so it may be time to get the pins out.
Of course, nothing will really happen to the ex, but that's not the point. What you're doing is showing your dear friend that you care, sharing a good laugh with them, and maybe, if you're lucky, unwittingly cursing their ex's private parts. Now if this seems far too radical for you, just bring white sage over and perform a good smudging instead.
Get them drunk.
While I don't normally condone plying a friend with alcohol, this guideline can be a major stress reliever. Your friend that's divorcing probably has many obligations. Divorce will often double the daily responsibilities and financial burden where there were two people sharing in it before. Your friend is fulfilling the needs and emotions of others as well as themselves. Many have children to help navigate through this crisis. Plus the former couple's circle of friends and family are reeling from the divorce too--yet another burden for your resingled friend to handle. Hence the need to have just one night of total irresponsibility--to get hammered and laugh, cry, say stupid stuff, and generally be out of control.
So many people that go through a divorce feel as if they have to put on a façade, to wear a brave face in front of everyone including family, friends, coworkers, the grocery checkout guy, and the cop who just pulled you over for speeding because you were lost in thoughts of seeing your ex with their limbs tied to four horses running in different directions. As a friend, it is your job to call bullshit on being in control and allow your newly unattached friend to get a little crazy for just one wild night.
Don't give them plants.
People like to bring gifts to their suffering friend. While this is a lovely gesture, and wine is always appreciated, please do not under any circumstances bring them a plant, because that beautiful orchid will be toast in no time.
The resingled friend has just spent the past two, ten, maybe twenty years taking care of the "love of their life"--feeding them, honey-doing them, picking up their whatever, fixing this or that--and what did they get in return? They got crapped on. Do you think the divorcing friend wants to spend one moment of their time taking care of anything else? Hell no! That plant is just another responsibility, and a slap in the face to the years that were devoted to unselfish giving. Bring them a book by the Dalai Lama instead.
There you have them--five obscure guidelines to helping a friend through divorce. One last thing, it takes a long time to recover from divorce. The most important thing is to be patient.