Just getting through an acrimonious divorce makes one an expert. You learned the ins and outs and discovered what worked. Making it through this difficult life transition enables you to illuminate the path for others. Just be careful of how you do this.
How Those Who Are Divorced Can Help Those Who Are Divorcing:
1. Do not give unsolicited advice to your friend during her divorce. None whatsoever. Yes, she may be making the same mistakes, but even well-meaning advice can be perceived as criticism or judgmental. Bite your tongue if necessary. There are ways to get information across plus share your wisdom by speaking about personal divorce experiences.
2. Pick relevant divorce scenarios that you survived and your friend is facing now. If you wished your ex’s pension plan had been divided in half and you received less of another asset, then let your friend know. She is making financial decisions too.
Maybe you bought your husband out of your marital home and wished that it had been sold and profits divided, that is a helpful tip. Letting her know what worked and what didn’t in your divorce gives her information to digest about her own situation.
An acquaintance told me the best thing she did in her divorce was to select a strong therapist for her son who was comfortable going to court. I asked for his name and he ended up going to court post-divorce for my younger son. She never told me what to do. Use statements like, “Have you thought about,” or “Did your attorney consider?”
3. Inquire if she wants some divorce resources to help her get through the divorce. Inform her of what helped you in your community. I tell people about our local community college’s “Women in Transitions” course which brought in speakers on a plethora of topics, such as finances, dealing with stress and moving on. This class is available across the country and was like a lifeline for me.
See if she would like assistance in finding a divorce or women’s support group. Through MeetUp.com I joined The Transition Network for social and emotional support. We go to stimulating lectures, have lattes, talk about our transitions and sometimes new career paths. Sometimes I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark without a savvy friend to guide me. Perhaps she would be receptive to receiving a book on divorce. I give out the one I wrote as presents to those going through this life transition.
4. Nurture and pamper your friend. I received a relaxation CD from one friend and Murad skin care from another. People lined up to take me out for lattes. We have a beauty school that does excellent treatments for a greatly reduced rate. I hand out their brochures so that divorced friends can get pampered.
Pedicures and manicures are the ultimate in relaxation for me. Consider treating your divorcing friend to one of these. I like aroma therapy and bought lavender and other scents to relax or revive me during this stressful time.
5. Remember holidays. Purchase a small Mother’s Day or birthday gift for your pal. If feasible, take her children out to buy their mom a present. I presented a friend with a small box of expensive European chocolates for Mother’s Day during her divorce, and she was ecstatic with her only gift.
Bake homemade goodies especially for the holidays so this is one less thing on her holiday to-do-list. Your pal may face her first holiday without kids during these proceedings. Invite her out around or on the holiday. I discuss my new holiday routines that my sons and I initiated during my divorce. We go to a movie and get a latte before our big meal. This sharing spurs pals to consider changing or adding new rituals to their special days.
6. Encourage your friend to vent about what she is experiencing. Keeping feelings bottled up can lead to an explosion down the road. Discuss the emotions that you went through during your divorce. Mention that death of a person or marriage is a time of mourning what was and will never be again. Is she stuck? I tell people that both of our collaborative attorneys mandated that we each see a life coach during our divorce. This helped to release steam and give us a reality check. My husband even had his come to one divorce session as moral support.
7. Discuss nutrition and supplements for anyone going through stressful periods. I took “Holy Basil” which lowers the stress hormone, cortisol and has been prescribed in India for 4000 years. I took this in my divorce and others I recommended it to feel calmer, including my college age son. Now I take Rhodiola to support a healthy response to stress. B vitamins are depleted from the body quicker during stress, so a supplement is helpful. Others to consider are Omega 3, Coenzyme Q10 and to reduce inflammation with Curcumin. Check with your doctor first. I upped my intake of protein during divorce and continue to drink a protein shake every morning for extra energy.
8. Pass along divorce wisdom from others. People who told me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel or life truly will be easier post-divorce got me through this ordeal. Folks encouraged me to watch comedies and take a short escape from my situation. Going to Disneyland also helped. Saying “This too shall pass” put my temporary circumstance into prospective. When friends hear these adages, they realize that they are not alone and many have trod this path before them.