The Friendship Equation: Never Discount the Value of Girlfriends During and After Divorce
Submitted by: Big Little Wolf
Can family help when you’re going through divorce? You bet. But when it comes to this particular bumpy road and the months that follow, don’t discount the importance of friends.
Don’t get me wrong – family is fantastic – and the more supportive they are, the better. Have kids? You’re all the more fortunate if parents or siblings can take them for a day, provide continuity in routines, and surround them with a sense of love and security. It will give you a break and ease your qualms, your guilt, your anger, your grief, and your worry. And yes – you’ll feel all those things. Divorce sparks so many emotions, unfastening your dreams, destabilizing your beliefs, and tossing your reality onto another planet.
But girlfriend – those other girlfriends can really be your anchors.
Think you needed good women in your life before? You need them more than ever now. To share confidences as you rediscover yourself. To vent, to rant, to cry, and simply to hold you. To reassure you that moving on was inevitable, or in your best interest.
One of them may have been through it herself, and can provide genuine empathy – as well as practical advice. Some will assist with childcare, others will offer coffee and a kind ear, or a few hours at the movies, sharing laughter.
If you’re being slammed by every sort of change possible – revealing disclosures about your spouse’s infidelities or business dealings, financial stress, the need to sell your home, children who require comfort and clarity during a time of turmoil – what’s reasonable to expect from your friends?
- Will a friend of six months be as likely to help as a friend of ten years? Of course not.
- If your divorce drags on and you rant every time you’re out with friends, is that reasonable? Definitely not.
- What about married friends who shared couples’ activities with you and your spouse? What if they feel put in the middle?
Be mindful – and considerate – even when you’re at your worst, and struggling through what may feel like the rockiest time of your life. Steadfast friends who have shared your ups and downs for decades will stand by you, but friendship is a two-way street. It cannot always be about you, your kids, your problems. Your friends have issues, too. They still need you – as a friend. And I learned this the hard way. I was so lost in the thick of my own troubles, I was unable to give.
Post Divorce Friendships
Coming out the other side, now many years after divorce, I have two friends who remain from the time “before.” One lives hundreds of miles away; we’ve been girlfriends for as long as I can remember, believing in each other through good times and bad, and we keep in touch through letters, emails, and phone calls.
The other friend was a caring shoulder during my divorce, and in the early years after. It wasn’t easy on her, but she stuck it out with me, and I’ve never forgotten her kindness and courage in doing so.
On your post-divorce planet, you’ll be seeking new relationships. Romantic and sexual liaisons are fantastic – and part of the process of finding a single “you” again. But remember that friendships are elemental. Cherish those you have, and continue to expand your community of great women – and men. Be there for them, as they will be for you.
These days, Big Little Wolf (”Ms. Big”) reflects on life and her Daily Plate of Crazy, where she writes essays on everything – sometimes serious, sometimes fun – whatever strikes her on a given day as interesting, unusual, entertaining, or of concern.