What Not to Say to Your Divorced Friend

Friends are so important!

The Oxford dictionary defines friendship as “a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” But I believe that a true friend is so much more!

Friends are so important to your life. They’ll be honest, caring, loving and reliable – all because they cherish your friendship.

When going through a divorce good friends can give you the strength to pull through by being there when you need them and by not asking anything of you in return. Strong friendship like this always reminds me of this quote:

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

Divorce can be one of the darkest places and times to find yourself in and it can be all the worse if you go through it alone. Reach out to your friends, talk to them, go out for a girly day and take comfort in the stability of your friendship.

If one of your friends is currently going through a difficult divorce, you have the opportunity to step up and support her through this challenging time. However, there are certain rules to helping a friend through her divorce and so I’ve put together these tips on what NOT to say to help you, help her:

  1. What? I thought you were happy? You’ve been together so long/you seemed like the perfect couple!” – Needless to say, this kind of comment is going to make matters worse. If it was your friend who ended the relationship this will only pile on the guilt and if not, you’ll be increasing the feeling that she’s had the rug pulled from under her feet and she’ll continue to question why this happened to her both of which will prevent her from letting go and moving on.

 

  1. I’m really sorry. What happened?” – You might think you’re being sympathetic but saying sorry can come across as pitying which will knock your friends self-confidence and can cause her to doubt her decision (if she was the one who ended the relationship.) You also don’t want to pry as your friend might not be ready to talk about her relationship breakdown yet. Instead, reassure her of your friendship and your sympathy, without asking questions by saying something like, “You don’t have to talk about it, but if you do I’m always here for you.”

 

  1. What about your children?” – When it comes to other people’s children, the best thing you can do is to keep your thoughts to yourself. Adding to your friends’ feelings of guilt, doubt and low self-worth isn’t going to help and telling someone that you don’t agree with how they’re raising their children is one certain way of driving a BIG wedge into a friendship.

 

  1. It’s not a big deal, half the people I know are divorced.” – Downplaying the divorce and trying to ‘normalise’ it may seem like a good idea at first as you may be trying to show your friend that she’s not alone. But this can have the opposite effect by making your friend feel bad for being upset over something that others have coped with. Instead, ask her if there’s anything she needs, or anything you can do…and don’t take no for an answer!

 

  1. What a pig! You should take him to the cleaners!” – You don’t want your friend to dwell on feelings of hurt or anger that could lead her to try and take revenge. This will only make things worse for your friend, leading her down the wrong path by dragging the divorce out and making it more difficult for her to move on with her life.

 

  1. You just didn’t pray hard enough!” “You are too carnal, walking in the flesh!”, “Surely you could have believed God and stayed in your marriage!”. “What did you do? There are always two sides to every story!” “If you say he cheated, I bet it was because you were not meeting his needs? Otherwise, why would a Christian husband cheat?” “There is nothing God can’t do, pray to God for his deliverance and he will stop beating you.” - If you are a Christian and happen to be divorced, one of the most devastating things of all (and one that often saddens me the most as a Divorce Recovery Coach who is also a Woman of God) is that on several occasions, I have found that many of my clients and friends too, while in the middle of their worst nightmares, some finding themselves either as victims of abuse and/or being abandoned by their husbands, were also abandoned by the church and by many of their "Christian" friends. Some divorced or separated Christians, have, as a result taken a downwards spiral and experienced a crisis of faith and even where they may have healed from the grief and shame of the divorce (and the traumatic years of physical and emotional abuse leading up to it), the betrayal and abandonment experienced at the hands of the Church and of church friends is something many are still hugely struggling today, many years later. The reactions above are quite representative of what many Christian women have had to experience.

On a personal level, I also received some of these comments or similar. I recall vividly, being told by a a particularly indignant woman that “Zina you need to marry the ground with your knees” and it was like a knife piercing the very depths of my soul. Those comments stuck with me and came to mind many times as I was struggling through my abusive marriage and eventual divorce many year ago. I felt it was my fault, I felt shunned and judged in so many situations, so I can identify and emphasise with any of my Christian sisters who maybe feeling like this today. However, there is redemption in Christ, and I just want you to know God’s Grace and Love is available and sufficient. Nothing, I repeat, absolutely nothing which includes divorce or other people’s opinion of you - can separate you from the Love of God. I hope you find much comfort in Ecclesiastes 3:11 - "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."

3

Whatever your faith maybe or not, saying the right thing to your divorcing friend isn’t always easy, but the most important thing to do is show her that you’re there for her when she needs you and when she feels she’s ready to talk about what’s happening. Explain that you’re there to help in whatever way she wants you to whether that’s by talking things over, taking her mind off it or acting like nothing’s happened.

In the long run, she’ll appreciate that you’re doing this for her and it will only serve to strengthen your friendship.

If you feel that your friend is wallowing and does need further guidance and support, try recommending my website as a source of reference, it’s as easy as leaving a post-it note on her fridge and if you yourself are going through a divorce and need help with friends who are being a little too forward, send them a friendly link to this article.

Whatever you do, take the process in your stride, it is all part of your Believe and Live Again recovery, bounce back and transition journey from being a “we” to becoming a “me”.

If you would like to have an informal chat about it, don't hesitate to get in touch on: +44 208 938 3672 and myself or a member of my team will gladly schedule a Complimentary Believe and Live Again Coaching Discovery session or a no-obligation 30 minute "Forgive and Let Go" consultation and together, we could be embarking upon the Believe and Live Again 5 R's journey to heal your heart, outgrow your challenges and let go of the past so that your glorious future can finally emerge.

Once again, I invite you to contact me or schedule a time to talk, call: +44 (0) 208 938 3672 (24 hours) or click on the pink "Contact" at the bottom right hand side of this page and this will take you into my "Let's Talk" contact form. Kindly complete the form and you will get a call back.

In the meantime, until next time, Keep Smiling, Keep Strong and Keep Believing.

Best Wishes and God's Blessings

Zina 7xxx

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Zina Arinze helps female professionals, business women, entrepreneurs and women of faith, swiftly recover from the grief, trauma and stigma of divorce, separation or relationship breakdown by giving them clarity for their radiant future so that they are able to transition their mindsets from “we” to “me”, reconnect to their positive of self, regain their feminine power and walk in the healing restorative power of God. A lawyer by training and armed with an MBA, Zina has over 15 years in IT Project Management Consultancy, Training and Capacity Building for both the Public and Private Sectors, she very passionate about building lasting relationships and encouraging the discovery, development and deployment of hidden talents.

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