Everyone knows that divorce impacts children, but what's not always talked about is how divorce impacts other relationships. When a couple splits up, relatives typically take the side of the family member that they are related to. But what happens with friendships? This can be more complicated and many different scenarios can occur.
Through my work with individuals going through divorce, it is clear that many friendships are tested while one of the friends is going through a divorce. Sometimes things end amicably with the couple and both parties are able to remain friends with their pre-divorce friends. But this is rare. Most of the time friends are forced or feel obligated to choose a side. This can be devastating to the person going through the divorce because it compounds an already difficult time.
It's hard to understand what it feels like unless you experience it yourself. Several years after my divorce, my close friend separated from her husband and started her divorce proceedings. Every time we spoke she apologized. She told me that she had no idea how difficult it was and she was sorry that she wasn't more supportive of me when I was going through it. I thanked her for saying that but told her that she didn't need to apologize. There wasn't really a way for her to understand what I was going through until she went through it herself.
It's upsetting to lose friendships during divorce but the ones that remain usually grow stronger. Try to give your friends the benefit of the doubt and maybe in time they will come around. Focus on the people who are supportive. Take care of yourself. Make some new friends. As time goes by and the dust settles, things will get better. And the old saying really is true - you will be stronger for it.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.