Divorce, Damage and Friends. Is Harm Minimization Possible?

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Answered by: Nicholas, An Expert in the Coping During the Divorce Process Category
Divorce, Damage and Friends

By definition, being married equates to being adult. Your friends are most likely to be adults too, and rest assured that none of them will be strangers to divorce. Either they've experienced it themselves, seen their parents go through it, or have other relatives and friends divorcing around them. Three tips that are in no way bullet-proof, but are more helpful than harmful.

1. Your Friends

These are the friends who you may have bought into your marriage from your single days - the ones that typically said a casual hi to your partner before turning their attention to you. The best practice is to wait till you are reasonably settled with your decision before informing them as calmly as you can manage. Value their support, and respect them if they wish to avoid indulging you in any rants you engage in about your partner.

Also accept and understand that, over the course of your marriage, they may have become fond of your estranged partner. Should this be the case, try your utmost to respect the difficulty this situation will be presenting them. Above all, avoid the temptation to ask them to 'declare their allegiance' as no one likes feeling cornered, and besides, you may not like their answer.

2. Your Partner's Friends

This can be awkward. Once your estranged partner has made them aware, let them choose their path forward in respect of you. Be very wary of assuming they are somehow 'against you' simply because they pause communications. It may be that this is out of respect for both of you, and they will wait until your separation has settled before saying hi.

You may choose to make some changes with your communication details - phone number, email, social media etc. Reach out with these new details to those friends of your estranged partner that you wish to - but then leave it up to them as to whether they reach back. Respect, time and space are the watch-words here.

3. Your Mutual Friends

Without doubt, this is the social equivalent of a minefield. Acknowledge the fact that it is almost a certainty that both you, and your estranged partner, will experience awkwardness and most likely disappointment with the actions of some of your mutual friends. It is helpful to also acknowledge that it can be excruciatingly difficult for these friends as well. Focus on making the best out of each relationship, and anticipate that these friends will at least try to do likewise.

Depending on your location, incidental contact at the supermarket or post office can easily happen. If you feel your pulse rising on these occasions, acknowledge that it's undoubtedly happening to them too - and act accordingly. If you feel inclined to chat, do so - but if it's evident that these mutual friends are uncomfortable with that - then respect their feelings and go on your way with a smile, and with all opportunities for communication down the track staying intact.

Divorce, damage and friends is a topic that can make you shudder, but with some calm thought and empathy it's entirely possible to make the best of it.

Divorce is rarely pleasant, it inevitably affects those around you, and shows no sign of extinction in our modern society. Perhaps the take-away message is to commit to getting through the process with harm minimization as your corner-stone, and with as many friendships as possible surviving along with you.

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