Divorce can be a difficult thing for anyone to discuss. There are so many emotions tied to it that the persons going through it often experience periods of not wanting to talk about it and absolutely needing to talk about it in a 60-minute swing.
For actress Jennifer Garner, it has taken her nearly 10 years to open up about her divorce to actor Scott Foley. Prior to meeting, marrying, and having three children with Ben Affleck, Garner found herself in a California divorce court putting an end to her first marriage after four years.
“Oh, he’s a great guy. We were full-on grown-ups, but looking back I’m aware we did not know what hit us,” she said in a recent interview with Allure, adding, “We didn’t have a shot. He’s a really good guy, and we just imploded.”
The long delay highlights a problem that many in a divorced person’s support unit face when they’re first hit with the news that their friend or family member is signing divorce papers.
If you know a friend who is going through a divorce — whether it’s a bitter, contested courtroom drama or a simple online divorce — here are some appropriate reactions you should consider.
How Do You Feel About It?
Be slow to insert your own opinion. If someone tells you they’re getting a divorce, it’s probably because they need to talk about it; they need the ear of someone, who will listen. Not a person, who is going to take over the conversation and make it about them.
Is It What You Want?
Reflecting the conversation back to them shows that you’re willing to listen, and it helps the person work through their emotions. Of course, they’re not going to work through ALL their emotions in one conversation, but providing them the opportunity brings them one step closer to processing the difficulty.
I Hope It Works Out How You’d Like.
Showing that you’re on their side without resorting to negativity can be a daunting task, but this response usually puts you in a good position to do just that. And again, you’re giving them the opportunity to continue talking or cut the conversation off if they’re simply letting you know the situation, and don’t really want to talk about it.
How Can I Help?
With these four words, you allow them to decide exactly what they need from you. It could be after-work drinks, a night at the fights, or a full day of shopping. Maybe they just want to unload all their feelings right then and there. However it happens, it’s up to them, and they know you’re not going to judge or trivialize what they’re feeling.
Whether you’re a friend helping someone deal with divorce or a person actually experiencing it, what responses do you think are best?