Divorce Support: How Can I Help a Friend Experiencing Divorce?

Divorce is one of the most painful things a family can go through. It breaks my heart whenever I hear that friends or family I care about are ending their marriage.

If you love someone who is going through a divorce, it’s natural to want to help. But you may feel powerless to know what to do. If you know both people well, it can be especially hard to know how to be there for people who are at odds with one another.

I know how you’re feeling, and I want to support you so that you can support people you care about. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years about how to be there for people who are going through marital problems.

Listen First

When someone is going through a hard time, it is so hard not to jump in right away with a solution or an idea to help. But when someone is going through a divorce, it can be disheartening to hear how they might be able to make things work, or what they should do to feel better.

I’ve made the mistake of speaking too soon, but I notice how much more supported my friends feel when I simply listen. Often, the longer I listen, the more my friends are able to be clear about how I can help and support them.

Listening also gives me the chance to know exactly how they’re feeling, and where their spirits are hurting (as one of my friends once put it). Knowing this allows me to lay those needs before God in prayer. God can heal them in ways that I can’t. His love and strength are always within reach.

Self-Care is Key

When someone is going through a divorce, the overwhelm can cause them to forget or neglect their self-care. Offering to help with grocery runs, errands, or cooking meals are great ways to ease their stress without feeling like you’re intruding.

Avoid Taking Sides

If you know both people going through the divorce, and if you’re close enough to both partners to be a listening ear, you may find yourself feeling drained more quickly.

It’s important to remember that both friends are going to be in a lot of pain and perhaps even anger. Do whatever you can not to take sides. Remember that your relationships with your friends are important, too. You can set boundaries to protect those relationships.

Still Need Help?

Sometimes, no matter what we do, our friends are going to be overwhelmed. That can be scary, but don’t despair.

If you’re concerned about your friend’s well-being after doing what you can to support them, reach out for help. If you need someone to talk to, we can offer online chat with a HopeCoach and guidance for relationship healing through email mentors. And if your friends are open to help, we offer divorce support resources, too. You or your friend can reach out to a  HopeCoach for confidential help whenever you need it.

No matter what, know that you are loved by your friend. Your support is appreciated. And when you’re not sure where to turn, we’re here to support you.

Are you dealing with your parents' divorce or your own divorce? Read my blog on 4 steps to healthy healing.

A guide to help you with the steps to consider when thinking about divorce along with recovery and forgiveness. 

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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