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How to Comfort a Friend Whose Spouse Wants a Divorce

by Susan Hildreth

Listening is the key to help a friend who may be going through a divorce. In 2002, 59 percent of the United States' population was married, and 10 percent of the population was divorced. Your friend may feel alone in this unfortunate journey; reassure her she is not.

Let your friend talk and get his feelings out in the open. Let him know you are listening by saying "I'm sorry" or "I can't imagine how you must feel." If your friend is having trouble opening up to you, try asking open-ended questions like "what happened?" or "what's going on?"

Focus on her feelings and not your own. You may have had a friendship with the divorcing spouse, and the news of their separation may come as a shock to you, but put your friend's feelings first.

Help your friend find a support group in your area, which can provide support and information. If none are available, suggest books on the subject of divorce. A couple of titles to recommend include "Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends (3rd Edition)" by Bruce Fisher; "The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death Divorce, and Other Losses" by John W. James; and "Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, Revised Edition" by Abigail Trafford.

Be patient. It may take your friend some time to deal with her situation, especially if the reason for the divorce is particularly painful. If your friend is not ready to open up just yet, make sure she knows that you are there and ready to listen.

Offer a change of scenery to your friend. Being in the home that was shared with his divorcing spouse may bring out feelings of pain and anger. Go to a park or your own house. If your friend seems to be up to it, suggest going to a movie or other activity to help get his mind off real life.

Tip

  • Your friend may want you to speak to her spouse on her behalf. Don't get involved. Instead say, "it is not my place to speak to your spouse. When you are ready, you can do that yourself." Be as sympathetic as possible without making her feel worse by thinking you are giving pity.

About the Author

Susan Hildreth became editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper after graduating college. The following year, she took on the task of editor-in-cheif of a daily newspaper. Hildreth began writing professionally during the summer of 2001. Her articles have been published in various small town newspapers and in the "Omaha World Herald." Hildreth holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.