You’ve just heard the news. Your best friends are getting divorced. You’ve known them as a couple for years. You are devastated by their breakup.
You may even feel like a child whose parents are separating. You don’t want them to split. You love them both. But you’re helpless to change the situation. And you know your life is going to drastically change.
The divorce of close friends has a serious impact on a couple. For instance, allegiances must be redefined. Before the breakup, they were friends with both partners. Now, equal friendship is difficult and may feel like betrayal if you pick one over make joint friendship impossible with statements such as, “I won’t talk to you if you continue to have contact with him.”
Sometimes the choice is obvious. If the wife leaves her husband and moves out of the area, you’re more likely to keep in touch with the guy. Or if both men have known each other for decades, it’s a bet they’ll stay best friends.
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But things can get murky in a hurry. Should the husband start dating a gal you detest, your friendship will quickly fade.
Divorcing friends create upheaval in your activities. The days of joint wine tasting, movies or camping trips are over. You’re less likely to watch each others’ children so the other couple can have a night out.
Finally, favorite couples are difficult to replace. It’s a challenge finding four people who get along well. Adding kids to the mix makes things even tougher. Close bonds between couples take years to develop. A divorce erases the time and energy you’ve all invested and makes you start over in your search.
But life is always changing. Couples come and go out of our lives. Sadly, even our favorite couples sometimes go their separate ways. We can’t prevent the breakups. All we can do is grieve, adapt and move on.
WHAT TO DO WHEN FRIENDS DIVORCE
Talk with both parties. Express your sadness about the breakup. Let them know much you value their relationship. Express your desire to remain close friends, even after the divorce.
Don’t take sides. Never talk trash about the other spouse. If one member wants to sway your opinion, politely redirect the conversation and say, “I love you both and don’t want to know the details.”
Encourage them to seek professional help. It’s great to offer your support, but don’t try to be their counselor or attorney.
Consult with them about upcoming plans. If you’re having a party, let them know ahead of time if the other person has been invited and when they’ll arrive. Your sensitive tactics will be appreciated and will help avert awkward situations.
Understand that your relationship with both parties will change. All of your lives are in a state of flux. It will take time for the dust to settle and for a new normal to emerge.
Find new friends. Seek out other couples you equally enjoy to begin the process of creating new relationships.