Every 36 seconds someone gets divorced in the United States. Given those statistics and the title of this article, you likely know someone going through a divorce. Divorce is one of the most stressful things to go through in life, in fact, according to a recent survey it is second only to spousal death in terms of stress inflicted.
Knowing you are there to support them can make all the difference for your friend during this time, and even lower their stress levels. Here are four different ways you can support your friend as they go through a divorce:
How to Support Someone Going Through a Divorce
1. Become a Support System
One of the first things to go out of the window with your friend will likely be chores and personal care tasks, as a recent study has linked divorce to a decrease in structure. Helping with different tasks around the home can make a tremendous impact. This can range in time and commitment from something like helping them move to simply do the dishes when you’re over if you see they’ve piled up. What matters is you’re there to help when you can, and they know that. Even just offering a listening ear can be an immense help. Research shows that talking feelings out abates the response of the amygdala, or the panic center of the brain, during stressful times.
2. Engage With Them Socially
Over one-third of adults surveyed said they became lonely as a result of their stress. Your friend may politely decline at first as many divorcees face a dip in their social engagement as they process what’s happened. Never stop making an effort to include them in spite of this. Having a social support network lessens the adverse effects of stress. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to bombard them with invites out every day, just make a conscious effort to include them in outings so they don’t feel forgotten.
3. Send Comfort Food
You may be surprised just how much food gifts do to lift a person’s spirits. There’s a reason you tend to treat yourself when you’re down and it’s in the name itself: comfort food. A tasty treat during a stressful time can be the difference between another bad day and having a smile on your face. In fact, one-third of people in the United States reported comfort food as their go-to way to handle stress. Comfort food is an especially great gift for divorcees as it has been linked to the sensation of relational connectedness.
4. Encourage New Relationships
The keyword here is encourage, not push. Let your friend move on naturally because pushing a relationship before they’re ready could result in an unhealthy one. Most experts recommend that people wait at least one year before entering a new relationship after a divorce. However, it is important to remember every individual is different.
You should not judge your friend for waiting a much longer, or shorter, amount of time. There are several factors that may contribute to how quickly your friend processes their divorce including; personality traits, circumstances the marriage ended under, children and custody involved, and loss of additional social relationships connected to former partner
Any one of these will affect the level of trauma associated with the divorce and how quickly your friend is able to process that trauma.
Going through a divorce is nothing short of life-changing. Being there for your friend during these uncertain times makes all the difference. Even if your schedule is tight making an effort to let them know you’re there to help, they haven’t been forgotten, it’s ok to move on and yes, they do deserve a little treat once in a while, will be greatly appreciated.