Divorce is an emotionally charged experience for couples, but when someone you know is coping with infidelity, he or she is probably angry, resentful, sad and lonely. It is natural to want to help a friend or family member cope. Providing a safe environment to express feelings and a helping hand can make a difference in this person’s physical and emotional health while grieving the loss of a marriage.
When friends or family members learn of infidelity, it is common to lash out and express anger or frustration. It is important to stay neutral, however. Instead of placing blame and fueling his or her anger, reassure this person that you will be there to listen and provide support. While coping with a divorce, it is also natural to feel isolated. Just knowing you are there can be a comfort.
Emotions can be intense for both spouses. Let your friend know that feelings of betrayal are natural. Be compassionate and allow him or her to express these emotions and process the changes, suggests Adele Theron, therapist, mediator and founder of the Naked Divorce support series. Be the shoulder your friend needs to lean on and offer words of support such as "I'm sure this is difficult," and "You have every right to feel the way you do."
One of the most difficult aspects of coping with infidelity and divorce at the same time is envisioning the future, according to The Family Journal article "An Integrative Approach to Treating Infidelity." You can help your friend by assisting with a plan to move forward and work through the pain and baggage of infidelity. If your friend relied on his or her spouse to provide financially, help him or her find employment. Offer suggestions for professional counselors to help work through feelings of betrayal while moving forward. With a clear plan in place, your friend can begin to see the steps to rebuilding trust in others while gaining confidence and independence.
Suggest Professional Help
When trying to process not only a divorce but also a betrayal by a spouse, dealing with assets, property and divorce paperwork can be overwhelming. Ensure that your friend has access to divorce and family attorneys so that he or she is protected legally, suggests the Lewis Kannegieter Law website. If the situation is hostile and bitter, it may be necessary for your friend to seek protection orders. Ensuring that your friend has access to police personnel, lawyers, therapists and child custody professionals can help better prepare him or her for a divorce after infidelity.
Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.