With as many as one in two couples heading straight for divorce court within a few years of marriage, divorce is now more common and socially acceptable than it was in our grandparents’ day. Just because it happens more often, however, doesn’t mean it’s any less overwhelming.
When people are stressed, they tend to only hear bits and pieces of all the details they need to focus on. A natural response for those in a support role is to offer “comfort,” which unintentionally comes out in the form of “control.” All of us at one point or another have to resist the temptation to offer advice. Even when well intentioned, telling a friend to leave the marriage or treat the spouse in a certain way is generally one-sided. It is impossible to know all there is to know about your friend’s marriage as an outsider, even if you are very close friends and your friend regularly confides in you.
Instead, try to offer support in a more pragmatic way. One practical way you can help is to become familiar with the state-specific process for filing which your friend will need to follow once he or she decides to get divorced. You can easily search online for more information about the divorce process. Because divorce laws and proceedings vary by state, be sure to include the state name when you’re looking for information.
By helping people focus on the steps they need to take, and where they’re at in the overall process, you reduce stress by reminding them there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Keep in mind, one of the best things you can do is offer your friendship and support. While your friend may feel overwhelmed, your ability to stay grounded and non-judgmental will make a difference wherever your friend is at in the process.