Finding Your Support System During Divorce

Getting Support Throughout the Four Stages of Divorce 

There’s a lot of talk in popular culture about “meeting friends where they are”, supporting your loved ones the way they want to be supported, not necessarily the way you’d want to be supported.

A review of recent advice on Oprah.com includes inviting your divorcing friends out (and keep inviting them!), if they’re moving, help them pack, and when in doubt, just listen. This is sound advice in any friendship. But the thinking turns more specific when it moves toward “never trash their ex” and “show up for partner-type things”. What this advice does is acknowledge that there are cultural practices—customs, traditions or simply habits—that encourage us to have partners. And that’s goes double or triple if you have kids. Father-daughter dances, Mother’s Day, school conferences and events. These are designed for two parents, or, a couple. Friends who want to help their divorcing friends should step up to fill in those spaces. What’s important, too, though, is to respect boundaries. Don’t push for details. Don’t assume you know what they need. Remember, you’re their friend for their whole lives. This is just one part of it.

So how can friends best support those going through divorce?

This month we’ve been taking a close look at the work of Liza Caldwell, cofounder and director of SAS For Women, graduate of Fordham University with an MA from Columbia Teachers College where she studied Gender and Leadership Development. She’s trained in transformational coaching and she’s a certified professional coach and recognized by the International Coach Federation.

She’s also a mother and an ex. Her own experience confronting her own divorce has informed her work. Her journey taught her about where the challenges can be, especially with kids and, ultimately, launching her own business.

Caldwell’s Journey

It’s always a relief to know that the person listening to you, counseling you or giving you advice has been through similar struggles themselves. In Caldwell’s case, she lived the experience many of her clients do. After taking time off from her career to raise two children, she found herself facing divorce. The way she navigated it became the framework for her four-step approach to counseling divorce. We’ve covered each step in-depth this month. But I think it’s worth looking at what kind of support you might need depending on where you are in the process.

Stage One: “Something is Wrong”

This first stage requires more than just the help of family and friends. This is where you start looking for resources on your own, Googling divorce. At this stage, you should start researching laws in your state and examining divorce alternatives like collaborative.

Stage Two: Hitting the Trigger

This could also be called “picking up the phone”. This is where you reach out to professionals to start the process. You should look here for counselors, psychologists and support groups who can see you through the process. This is a bigger job than your friends can do. It’s also sometimes complicated for friends. A counselor can help with an objective perspective.

Stage Three: Hitting the Trigger

During this stage, you will need emotional support. Expand your network and seek out professional resources.

Stage Four: The New Normal

You may find yourself in possession of a whole new support network—new friends and activity partners who understand your new needs.

As your situation evolves, so will your needs. It’s important you get the support you need at each stage.

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.