It’s stressful to talk about divorce – especially if you’ve never been through it!

“We’re getting divorced”, your friend confides in you, one afternoon over coffee.

“Wait, what?!”, “But, you looked so happy?”, “What went wrong?”,”What about the kids?!”

Before you know it, you start rambling, and although you might mean what you ask and say to be supportive, you may inadvertently end up hurting your friend.

Healing over hurtful

It’s stressful to talk about divorce – especially if you’ve never been through it!

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What do you say? More importantly, what do you not say, as your friend struggles to come to terms with her new self and life, post divorce?

To help you navigate this sensitive topic, we’ve outlined five things you should never say to a friend who is going through a divorce:

5 Things you should never say to a friend who is going through a divorce

1. “What happened? You looked so happy!”

Your friend may not even be able to pinpoint a specific reason for her divorce, so asking “What happened?” or exclaiming that “You looked so happy!”, will most likely just add to the confusion that she is no doubt experiencing.

If you’ve never been through a divorce, you need to understand that divorce doesn’t just “happen” overnight. For many couples, divorce is a long time coming – with many reasons contributing the final decision.

Instead of asking your friend outright to unpack the events that led to her divorce, offer to be there if she ever needs someone to talk to.

2. “I never liked him anyway” or “Your marriage was doomed from the start!”

Depreciation does not equal support, so take care when throwing stones at your friend’s ex-partner or relationship…

… even if her partner was undeserving of her, or it looked like her marriage would be an unhappy one.

Your role is to support your friend as she moves through a wide range of emotions such as pain, sorrow, despair and even nostalgia, not to point out how everyone knew that her marriage was doomed from the start!

Depreciation does not equal support, so take care when throwing stones at your friend’s ex-partner or relationship

3. “What about the kids?”

Most divorced parents will agree that the only thing harder than divorce itself, is having kids who must go through the divorce with you.

They are, no doubt, at the forefront of your friend’s every worry and decision. So, asking “What about the kids?” could come across as a slap in the face.

After all, at the end of the day, it’s all about the kids.

So, instead of asking “What about the kids?”, ask your friend if there is anything that you can do to help with the kids; like fetch them from school, or have them over for a play date to take their minds off things at home.

4. “You have to do this, you have to do that…”

Remember; you’re a friend, not a counsellor.

Every person deals with hardship differently – and what would work for you, may not work for your friend. So, be ‘there’, but try not to prescribe to your friend how she should ‘get over’ or ‘move on’ from her divorce.

5. “Are you going to start dating?”

While single moms can (and should) make time for romance, they first need time to mourn the loss of their marriage and partner, and to figure out what they want; for themselves, for their kids, for their career and for their life in general.

Dating after a divorce, especially after a long-term marriage, is difficult at best. Your friend will want to navigate it in her own time and on her own terms. To give her the space that she needs, don’t bring up the subject of dating – unless she does!
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