Do you have a close friend or relative who is going through a divorce? If so, then you probably know the struggles on a day-to-day basis of dealing with the pressures, anxieties, and stresses associated with that process. Knowing someone who is going through a divorce is almost like knowing someone who is dealing with a chronic illness or something equally as significant. Divorce tends to permeate every area of that person’s life. Have you noticed if your friend or loved one talks only about the divorce? As he or she gained weight or had their performance at work suffered or critiqued?
If so, then your friend call love one may need you to step in and provide support repairing this difficult time in their life. The tricky part for you is that it is difficult to always tell what degree of support he or she needs or wants. While some people look for guidance and words of reassurance at every turn other people appreciate your presence and physically being near them more than anything else. Luckily, as we begin to come out of this pandemic, being physically present with your friends and loved ones is no longer frowned upon was last year and the beginning of this year.
In reality, what your friend may need is for you to offer a listening ear more than words of wisdom or even encouragement. I realize that this may seem sort of contradictory given that you have started reading this blog post to gain some perspective on how to advise your close friend or loved one. However, the reality is that your close render loved one may not need to hear anything from you. He or she may have a pretty good idea about what problems they face and how to overcome them. What he or she may need this for you to offer your support in a physical sense whether it be going on a walk with that person, meeting him or her for lunch, or simply going over to their home to discuss a trip you’d like to take in the coming years period
Either way, it is up to you to learn the type of support that your friend or loved one needs. Since I don’t know you or your loved one I can’t tell you exactly what he or she will need. Once you figure that out, however, you can either offer the listening ear or perhaps provide some moral support through the advice that I’m going to share with you in today’s blog post. Remember: no two people are created exactly alike. In just the same way, no two divorces are created exactly alike. If you can keep that in perspective then you will be well served and be able to offer a great deal of consolation and support to your friend or loved one who was going through a difficult situation with their marriage.
Tip #1: talk about advice on how similar words helped you
The tendency that we sometimes have when it comes to giving advice is to essentially tell our friends and loved ones what to do and why what they’ve been doing so far is wrong or unhelpful. Imagine a situation where you are trying to cook a meal or perform some sort of household repair only to have someone stand over your shoulder until you are not doing it the right way. While their words may be true it is difficult on an emotional level for most of us to accept advice provided to us in that way. The tricky part is understanding that most people do not have the wherewithal to provide advice in a way that is readily accepted. Rather, most people will provide good-natured advice in a way that is sometimes rebuked.
So does that mean you should not bother offering any advice to your friends or loved ones about divorce? Not necessarily. But she needs to consider is how you deliver the message as well as the words that you choose to use.
From my perspective, I like to be able to provide advice based on my past experiences. For example, I find that people are much more receptive to men approaching my advice if I couch it in terms of what worked for me in a previous instance. That way people understand that there is a practical application to the advice and understand that I, 2, have been in a rough spot.
Tip #2: inquire about therapy
Admittedly, this piece of advice may not be that helpful unless you are extremely close to the person who is getting the divorce. It takes a special degree of no relationship to be able to discuss a difficult subject matter like this. However, if you have that type of relationship then you should inquire about whether or not the couple has sought therapy. going to receive therapy can be one of the most effective means 2 talks through difficult issues in a marriage and possibly even avoided divorce. However, it is my experience that many people don’t even consider therapy as an option. If you have the sort of relationship necessary to bring the subject up I recommend doing so.
Tip #3: do not offer legal advice
One of the first pieces of advice that I received as a young attorney was not to offer legal advice to friends or acquaintances unless you are their actual representative or attorney. There are many reasons why this advice is good but notably, the best advice I can conceive brother is that unless you are an attorney you should not be giving legal advice to anyone even if it is your friend.
For one, giving legal advice when you are not the attorney is a precarious position to put yourself in given that you are likely talking about your own experiences rather than what is based on the law. The second is that you may be unintentionally misleading your friend or loved one based on faulty advice. There is nothing wrong with helping your friend research finding an attorney or looking into help getting a divorce. However, I would caution against stepping over the line and providing actual legal advice. Rather, allow your friend to come to you with questions and help him or she discover resources that can be of better assistance to him or her.
Tip #4: save the horror stories for a camping trip
Based on my experiences as an attorney, I’ve come to find out that friends and family who share advice regarding divorces tend to do so almost in an exaggerated or hyperbolic manner. By this I mean that people involved in divorces tend to share the worst aspects and the goriest details almost without thinking. This can be difficult for someone going through divorce as he or she likely has no perspective I want to divorce actually is like and does not necessarily benefit from hearing our stories about what your divorce was like.
Even if your divorce was the worst experience of your life and was terrible consider the advice from the perspective of the person he was taking it in. If you think that you are a friend or loved one will be intimidated by the process even more so after the advice you provide him or her with then you may want to shy away from discussing these subjects. Again, most friends are not looking for gory details and legal advice when it comes to you to talk about their divorce. Providing moral support and context regarding divorce can be just as important.
Tips #5 and #6: encourage him or her to exercise and take care of their diet
One of the first things to not receive enough attention during a divorce is someone’s health. Without a doubt, when it comes to getting a divorce it can be difficult to go through the process and maintain any degree of normalcy or consistency in your routine. When you are under a time crunch spending time cooking meals or going out for a walk does not always appear to be the most efficient use of your time. Stress and worry also tend to prevent this from making good decisions for our health.
That is where you can come in. Like a trusted friend one you can take simple steps to help him or she maintain stability and consistency in their life as far as their diet and exercise routines. Simply going over to their home after work to walk in the relatively cool evenings keeping up great assistance to your friend or family member. Additionally, sharing recipes and even cooking meals in your free time for your friend can help him or him or her stay consistent in their diet.
Tip #7: help him or she looks to the future
It is easy to get stuck in the mud in a metaphorical sense when you are going through a divorce. It can seem like the divorce is taking forever and will never end. As the friend of someone going through a divorce, you are in a unique position to be able to provide context and hope that the divorce will come to an end. While it may not feel that way some days your friend needs to be encouraged that all things, good and bad, do come to an end.
The trick to this discussion is being able to reinforce these lessons to your friend without having your word sound hollow or contrite. We have all heard advice from people who are well-meaning but whose words seem unrealistically optimistic. It is possible, however, to be optimistic and future thinking but also be aware of the challenges that a divorce brings. Think about how you would want to be talked to regarding the future of your life and then apply those lessons to your friend or loved ones’ circumstances.
Tip #8: provide case-specific advice only when asked
One of the tricky parts of a divorce is being able to identify those times that your advice is truly needed or wanted and those times where your words fall on deaf ears. It is impossible to be perfect about situations like this since you do not live in the head of your friend or loved one. However, I have found that a good rule of thumb is to provide advice regarding divorce only when specifically asked. This doesn’t mean not asking your friend or loved one about how the divorce is going but it does mean not sharing your $0.02 on every issue of their divorce unless you were asked.
For one, being asked to share your opinion on their divorce shows that he or she is in a receptive mood to take in the advice you give. Otherwise, you may be advised at an inopportune time or simply about a matter you don’t know enough about to offer an opinion. The other thing to bear in mind is that your words mean more when they come from a place of experience. For instance, your friend may share with you the struggles that he has in raising his kids with a Co-parent. In that case, you may be able to provide better advice when it comes to issues regarding his kids than regarding his finances. If you can learn to pick your spots well in this regard then you will be better off.
Tip #9: if you are going to offer your friend money do so as a gift, not as a loan
if you find yourself in a position where you can assist your friend from a financial perspective then you should consider the implications of making an offer to do so. While you may approach the topic as one of just wanting to be generous to your friend it could be that your friend or loved 1 does not take the offer the same way. As you likely know, things can get complicated when money gets involved. Even a relatively straightforward relationship can take a turn once money and when the considerations become relevant.
Certainly, I would not make an offer of a loan to your friend for anything having to do with their divorce. If you feel called to assist your friend or loved one then do so as a gift. A gift carries no conditions with it and allows your transaction to be an open And shut one. On the other hand, a loan carries conditions with it, most notably the need to repay the money over time. This is a situation that can hang over the heads of your friends and can certainly impact the tone and tenor of the relationship negatively.
Tip #10: show patience tours your friend or family member
In general, patience is something that is in short supply in our world these days. Not only are we used to getting everything we want exactly when we want it through the door-to-door sales and instant ready meals but we are becoming less patient with one another in our daily interactions. This is especially true of people going through divorces who find themselves dealing with a spouse who is extremely persistent and impatient when it comes to getting what he or she wants.
For that reason, I recommend taking an opportunity to show patience to your friend or family member whenever possible. Doing so allows your friend or family member 2 breathe a little bit easier and two feel a bit more human. The simple courtesy of having some patients extended to you can encourage the same type of behavior in the case of a divorce. This may be exactly the type of support your friend or loved one needs during a difficult time.
Tip #11: help during a divorce does not have to be complicated
sometimes we can overthink what it means to be a friend or family member when it comes to advise. Oftentimes, we forget that simple words and gestures can mean as much as anything else. If you have a friend or family member who is going through a divorce then providing simple words of encouragement and necessary distractions from the case can be the best service that you can provide.
Don’t get caught up in the complexities of your Friend’s Life or their case. Remember: he or she is likely looking for an outlet from their case just as much as they are advised regarding the case. You may be the only person in your friend’s life who is not providing day-to-day advice about the divorce. If you can be perceptive about the type of support your friend needs then you will be in a position to help her or him more than if you give unsolicited advice at every turn. While the advice is important and can be extremely beneficial to friends and family members it is no exaggeration that your physical presence can also be simple and appreciated just as much.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.