One of the most painful experiences a father can endure is divorce. Yes, men hurt as much as women, although it is always assumed that women are the only hapless victims. A lot of men going through divorce also feel loneliness, anxiety, disappointment, and depression. There may be feelings of anger, betrayal and rejection for their soon-to-be ex-wife, but being in a family is one thing that they surely miss. And most of all, fathers going through divorce often miss living with the kids, who usually stay with the mom. Divorce rates are at an all-time high, and itís common to have a divorced mom or dad in our circle of friends.
If you have this friend, how can you be more supportive? How does one go about helping a friend through the process positively? Do you know how not to take sides but still be there for your him? At the early stages of a separation or divorce, your friend will go through different stages of grief. Of course heís hurt, and thereís nothing more that he would want to do than talk. Unlike women, men donít usually express their feelings and emotions. But then, divorce is an extremely emotional period. Spend time with him in a listening modeójust let him talk or vent his feelings, even cry.
Men are born with the inclination to solve the problem at hand, but you will not be able to solve the breakup of your friendsí marriage. Always put in mind that you are neither his lawyer nor his therapist. Avoid giving direct opinions and advice; whenever you are tempted to do so, check yourself. Your friend is already having a hard timeóand there will be more troubled times. The legal process of divorce can cause either regret or pain. Critical moments such as birthdays of the kids, anniversaries or the holidays can be especially tough. It would be a big help if you could visit or be with your friend on these days.
During conversations, we can sometimes get carried away in helping a friend. True, he has a lot of emotional problems at the moment, but it doesnít mean that you can prescribe answers to his problems. You are not a trained therapist so donít try to be one. You can, however, recommend resources, such as his employee assistance program at work, or good books about surviving divorce. If he has a hard time coping on his own, you can guide him to a good divorce lawyer, getting him to church or looking for competent psychological help when needed. It is normal for a person going through divorce to withdraw or isolate himself from family and friends.
Find ways to get him out of the houseópick one of his favourite activities and enjoy it together. Camping, a long aimless drive to somewhere, or fishing are all excellent ideas. Even just a long walk is a good way to let a friend out of his cocoon of self-pity. Unhealthy crutches, like alcohol and prescription drug abuse are common for men going through divorce. Be vigilant and watch out for signs that he may be turning to these crutches. Help him cope in a healthy way, one that does not involve excessive drinking and pills. Well-meaning friends have the best intentions if they introduce a single female to their friend going through divorce.
Not an excellent idea, though. Moving into a new relationship may only cause problems for his kids, and it will not help him get over his lost love. Being there for a friend through divorce is important, but you have a life and obligations as well. Donít let your own family or work suffer-- keep everything in balance, and youíll be better able to help him. Your support during these times is invaluable in helping him cope successfully.