Many of us have been there. A close friend has just confided that their marriage is ending. The news may or may not be surprising, but may still catch you off guard. You want to say and do the right thing. What can you do to be helpful? Here are three suggestions:
Listen. First of all, just listen. This is so important…and much more difficult than it sounds. Listen with empathy and openness. Try to resist the temptation to react, interrupt, interject your own experience, or provide advice. Understand that your friend is expressing the truth as they see it in that moment, and that what they need most of all is connection. When we are listened to, we feel connected.
Support. Divorce is an emotional event that takes time. As with any difficult journey, it helps to have a support along the way. By being available, and providing a stable presence in your friend’s life, you can provide much needed emotional support during what can be a tumultuous time. Meanwhile, try to refrain from giving legal and financial advice. Your friend must have competent professionals to assist them in these areas and needs you to be a friend.
Be honest. If your friend does ask you for advice, be honest. Telling them what you think they want to hear will only serve to bolster what may be an unreasonable position. Instead, try to engage in a compassionate conversation about your friend’s situation. Expressing your own perspective from a place of caring may help your friend become more open to other perspectives and possibilities.
You have been invited to accompany a friend through one of life’s most challenging transitions. By listening, supporting and being honest, you can provide a much needed connection along the way.
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