Tuesday 16 July 2019

How to support a friend through a breakup

Inside - 5 tips for supporting friends through marriage breakup

Marriages don't always last, even when they're built on solid years of togetherness. It's just a fact.

Being a supportive friend can bring great comfort in times of stress, but providing that support in a way that doesn't damage our own mental wellbeing is crucial. By being aware of these points, you can both come out the other side of a marriage breakup well supported.

1 - empathise, don't relate

It can be hard to have any conversation with a friend without relating it to our own circumstances, but your friend needs your empathy, not your relative story.

This means expressing to your friend that you understand how they may be feeling, and leaving it at that. No need to expand the discussion further, just let them sit with your support.

2 - stay out of the lawyer's way

We're not lawyers, so while it's easy to support our friends by driving them to and from legal meetings, don't undermine the lawyer's advice.

Finding a lawyer can be fraught with anxiety for the struggling friend, they worry how to pay, will they be treated fairly, and when we voice our own opinions, we undermine the courage our friends are showing.

Stand back, stay quiet, and show support.

3 - don't pick sides

If you've had a relationship with both members of the marriage, be aware that you may feel you have to choose a side. But don't.

Make it clear to your friends that you still consider them both to be friends, and keep in touch with both parties during this process so they feel the support.

4 - be aware of the stages of grief

The 5 stages of grief aren't just for dying. A marriage breakup is a major life change, and brings out the same feelings in people.

Having an understanding of these stages means you can support your friend if you notice that their mental health isn't coping, and they may need some extra support.

5 - take time out if you need it

Supporting others in times of need can drain our own emotional tank. Be aware of how others feelings can impact you, and take time away if you need to.

Bonus tip - don't bad mouth the ex, especially on social media

We've all been guilty of saying mean things about exes, but see point 3 above. When we bad mouth exes, especially on social media, we can unwittingly provide ammunition in their legal case. Case in point - I shared a photo on my sister's first wedding anniversary after separation, someone shared it with him, and it ended up becoming a key piece of his argument against my sister in his legal case*.

Do you have a friend who could use some support right now?

* don't worry, the case was thrown out of court, but it should never have come to that.

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