Mette Harrison is a novelist who also works in the financial industry. She was blindsided by her husband’s leaving her after six kids and 30 years of marriage. She also lost half of her friends. Sound familiar? According to a 2013 study headed by Brown University scholar Rose McDermott, if people in your close social network divorce, the risk of your marriage ending greatly increases. The result is that many divorced people find themselves losing not only a mate but the family home, their lifestyle and their friends.
Learning to accept and ask for help
One woman who was mourning the loss of friends also admits that “I didn’t know what I needed even when people asked.” One friend offered a bed until Ms. Harrison could find an apartment; another walked her through a frank assessment of her financial situation. A third texted every day for a year — a simple back and forth that she depended on to calm her panic in the early months. Her older brother set up a recurring monthly payment for rent and food plus a wish list on Amazon.
I can’t fix it, but I’m here for you
There are many ways to help those slammed by the shame, shock and economic panic of a separation or divorce. Ashley Mead, a New York psychotherapist who specializes in divorce, recommends connection. “Divorcees are losing the person they have been most connected to for their whole lives,” said Ms. Mead in an email. “They are often desperate and feel incredible shame.”
“Show up,” but forget “I told you so.” If you don’t know what to say, try this: “I know I can’t fix it but I am here for you. Trying to cheer someone up is often about calming our own discomfort.” Ensure that your friend has a place to vent, cry, laugh and think out loud.” Don’t stop inviting divorced friends to parties just because they are single. Call them on holidays even years after the divorce is over. Remember that it takes a few years to make new friends and rebuild a social network. A supportive person helps you see yourself in a bright next chapter, not someone who urges you to complain or stay mired in victim mode.
Offer to help with small projects
Divorce often means that now there’s just one person to manage daily chores–carpooling, paying bills, yard work. If you’re looking for creative ways to support a friend, think about offering to babysit one night/week, helping clean house once/month, car repair or small projects around the house.
Grief, loss and validation
For those who tell their friends they’re divorcing and their friends respond with “Great!”–that’s validation that it’s way past time to get out of a bad relationship. The language around divorce is all about failure, but sometimes it’s a victory that can help people make needed change.
The economics of divorce
The economic impact of almost every divorce hits hard; studies show that income may drop, especially for women. In an earlier article, we noted women’s standard of living may drop 27%. Details around spousal and child support take months and to get ironed out. Sydney Petite left her marriage in July of 2018 with three children. While she was awarded support from her ex-husband, she didn’t receive any payments for nearly three years. “I am where I am today because of unexpected support,” she said.
Other avenues of support could include gathering friends to pay for a few hours of an attorney’s time or organizing meal deliveries. “It can take years to get back to a stable financial situation,” said Alex Beattie, co-founder of Divide and Thrive, a downloadable financial divorce tool. “Dropping off a few meals or a few movie tickets can lighten someone’s spirits without costing much.”
Guideway’s Divorce and Mediation Services
Guideway has been assisting Bay Area couples with Divorce for nearly 20 years. While the majority of our clients may not have worked out the details, they know they are willing to reach agreement on division of assets and a parenting plan—and those are the critical components of an Amicable Divorce. Our Guided Mediation is for couples whose Divorce has stalled for whatever reasons. We guide you through it, and we prepare the legal documents. Schedule an appointment with Guideway today.
Guideway services the entire Bay Area
Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Alameda, San Leandro, Castro Valley Newark, San Lorenzo, Concord, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Livermore, Tracy and Fremont. Our clients also live in the Napa Valley, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, Fairfield.
This article based on an article in The New York Times.