When friends and family divorce
Think about it…when your brother and sister in-law separated and divorced, did you miss having your sister in-law at family gatherings? Do your children miss seeing their cousins as often as they did? And when your best friend left her husband for her boss, where did that leave your friendship? You couldn’t condone her actions and you felt horribly for her husband and kids. But she’s been your BFF since 7th grade!
No matter what your religious beliefs or thoughts on life in general, I think it is safe to say that no one would say that divorce is easy or that it doesn’t have wide-reaching effects.
When my aunt and uncle divorced I was heartbroken. I loved them both deeply. I couldn’t stand the thought of never seeing my aunt again. I loved our shopping trips together, the love of music we shared…it was awful! But I loved my uncle, too. We were only ten years apart in age so we were more like brother and sister. We laughed at the same movies, we loved slamming each other in ping-pong…. The split was due to a number of things-both accepted responsibility for the breakdown and breakup of their marriage. That was ‘big’ of them, but it didn’t make things any easier for me or the rest of the family.
When family members announce they are getting a divorce, other members of the family will either a) be relieved that ___________ is no longer going to be present (and tolerated) or b) they will be like me-not wanting to choose sides. If the divorce is a relief to everyone, there really is not issue to be resolved. But if you’re in my situation, it is important that you make your feelings known to both parties. These feelings should reflect that:
- You are sorry for their decision and for the pain they are going through
- That you love and respect them both and would appreciate not being asked to take sides
- That you intend to maintain a relationship with both parties
More often than not, both parties will appreciate your support and your honesty. There will, however, likely be those in the family who (no matter how they felt before) declare undying loyalty to family and begin bashing the ex. You may even find yourself being accused of disloyalty for taking the stance you are taking. To that I say pish-posh. Simply state your stand of neutrality and let it go. Time heals and it will all blow over in time.
Friends who split
Dealing with friends who end their marriage depends on:
- The depth of the friendship
- Whether or not you are ‘couple friends’-you and your husband are friends with both parties involved
- Who initiates the divorce and why
If your girlfriend’s husband leaves her (for whatever reason), it is only natural for you to want to be supportive and encouraging to her…as you should be. This is especially true if there is another woman involved. Let’s face it ladies, we have fragile self-esteems when it comes to our looks and desirability. Being scorned for another woman is a huge blow so being there for your friend is what friendship is all about.
If your friend is the other woman, you need to be willing to be honest with your friend as to how you feel. You should tell her that while you love her but will not condone what she has done. You shouldn’t sever your friendship, but you will need to decide for yourself how connected you feel comfortable with being.
The stickiest situation seems to come when both you and your husband are friends with the couple divorcing. Your loyalties are torn. No matter whose fault it is, you feel badly and mourn the loss of your relationship as couples who enjoy being together. And in the event that there is another person involved, how do you handle that? Do you associate with the ‘new’ couple? How do you do that without feeling completely disloyal to the ex? Do you just sever the relationship completely and move on?
There are no right answers to these questions. Each situation should be considered carefully. But you and your spouse should be in agreement with how, if and when you continue the relationship. After all, you don’t want to cause strife in your own marriage.
Divorce hurts. It can end friendships, make for awkward moments and sever relationships that you treasure. Feelings of betrayal and sadness over what is lost are natural and shouldn’t be ignored. Just try to remain as much on the outer rim of things as possible.
FYI: In case you are interested, both my aunt and uncle were completely understanding of my need to remain close to both of them-which I did until my aunt passed away at a young age due to a rare disease.
Darla Noble has been married to her childhood sweetheart, John, for 32 years. They are the parents of 4 beautiful children, an equally beautiful daughter-in-law, three son in-laws, 2 perfect granddaughters and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of 2 more grandchildren in the next few months. Darla, who has 25 years of experience, is passionate about her writing; mainly focusing on parenting/family issues, women’s interest, inspirational storytelling and writing to, for and about teenagers. Darla has also spent 20 years speaking to women and teens-inspiring them to live a life of love, faith, passion, wit and wisdom.
For more articles on marriage and relationships, see: