It can often feel like a shock when you hear a loved one tell you they are separating from their husband or wife can't it?
Often we may not have known there were any problems in a marriage until a decision has been made to end the marriage and then we feel like we are just catching up trying to figure out what on earth is going on!
Divorce impacts many people in many different ways and it is quite normal and reasonable that you will be feeling affected by the divorce of your loved ones.
I strongly believe in working on marriages and am always eager to help and support people wade through trials with the hope to get to the other side with a marriage still in tact. I believe God is the God of the impossible and that He is able to do more in our marriages than we could ever imagine. I do not think marriages should be thrown away. However, I also know, we live in a fallen world and the reality is divorce does exist and that at times, it is even necessary.
With so many loved ones around me going through divorce I began to wonder what is the best way I could be a supportive friend and be a realistic help during their time of struggle? It is not my place to judge their choices but to love and point them to Jesus. One of the best ways to do this is to be a supportive friend with practical help.
I have had the opportunity to interview 12 amazingly honest, transparent women who have been through divorce and willingly shared some of their experiences in the hope to give me (and maybe you) some ideas of best to support those going through divorce.
These views may not always reflect my own - but they ARE the feelings and views of real people who have gone through real divorces. I figure their views on this topic are going to a lot more realistic than my own.
What was the most practical support you received when you first separated?
Long chats with friends.
Help with packing and moving.
Help to make a new budget.
Gentle reminders to pray and read the Bible. At the time it was the last thing I wanted to do but in hindsight it started to build a strong foundation for me.
Time to grieve and help with the children.
A place to stay while we figured out what to do with the family home.
Understanding, they saw the reasons and they loved me.
Having people to listen to me and be there for me when I needed them.
Taking the children out so I could have a break.
Financial help (paying for a school excursion).
Friends and family dropping off groceries every now and then.
What actions were well-intentioned but not helpful?
Speaking negatively about my ex-husband and bashing him verbally. Regardless of his choices, the horrid comments did nothing for my heart.
Family telling me I should have stayed.
People telling me it was for the best.
Promises to be there if I needed help were not fulfilled.
The church telling me to reunite with my husband because it was what God had ordered.
Trying to set me up with someone new and encouraging me to move on.
Was there anything you wished your parents would have said or done while going through your divorce?
I wish they had put some distance between themselves from my ex-husband instead of allowing him to continue as their son-in-law. I did not need to see them supporting him.
Be more understanding that relationships don't always work.
I wish they were less angry at my ex - or at least less vocal about their anger.
To understand I am old enough to make my own decisions and not question me bluntly about those decisions.
Was there anything you wished your friends would have said or done while going through your divorce?
To not take sides.
To remember there are children involved who love both their mum and their dad.
To try and include me more in social gatherings.
To try and remember to contact me after the initial few months had passed.
Constant reassurance that I would make it through.
I know you might still be confused or crushed by the news of your loved one's divorce but now is the time where your loved ones need your love and support in the most practical way, even if you do not agree with their decision.
I want to thank the 12 courageous ladies I interviewed for sharing their experiences. May we open up our hearts and hands and love without condition as we walk these next chapters with those we love.