Divorce support
July 27, 2009 7:55 PM   Subscribe

A friend's husband just anounced he wants a divorce- help me help her...

She is a sweet sweet person. She married her high school sweetheart which may have been her only boyfriend... after 17 years of marriage he decided he doesn't want to be married. She is in shock and hurt and feeling alone and a million other things.

I am going to meet with her soon and I want to bring her a gift basket. Maybe a bottle of wine, some fresh picked berries, and I am looking for more suggestions. Keep in mind she can barely function- working full time, going to back to school, raising two girls - so I thought something like fresh baked cookies etc. Also- a book. Was there a self help that helped you deal with divorce??

For those who have dealt with something like this what would have/did help you??
posted by beccaj to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Emotional support is good, but what really would have impact right now, is good advice. She is in shock, and emotionally extremely vulnerable. Exactly the kind of situation where she might not be able to think clearly - and there are many, many things she needs to do to protect herself and her kids. You can be of the greatest help by being the voice of practical reason. First, persuade her that she absolutely needs to get a good divorce attorney ASAP. Help her here. She may not be in an emotionally strong enough state to function - seek advice and help her find a good attorney. Then, make sure she's in sync and following the legal advice. I know it sounds terribly cold, but it doesn't need to be - be there for her emotionally, but be also the practical person in her life. Good luck!
posted by VikingSword at 8:05 PM on July 27, 2009 [8 favorites]

I haven't experienced this, but if you are in the area, I would think that offering to make her a dinner for her and her kids would probably go a long way. Maybe offer to do laundry or other chores around the house - just anything to help lighten her load. She's not going to be able to function very well in these areas so any help she can get would probably be very appreciated.
posted by Leezie at 8:05 PM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

She may have little or no appetite for a while, so if you're bringing food, make sure it's something her kids might enjoy, or something that will keep for a while until she can eat again. I think you would both hate seeing her feel obliged to eat a lot of something you made for her at a time when she can barely nibble to keep herself going.

I agree that offering to take care of some chores would be appreciated, as would just sitting and talking.

And if you're more than casual friends, opening that bottle of wine late one night at the kitchen table may be a great choice.
posted by rosebuddy at 8:28 PM on July 27, 2009

Maybe you could help with childcare while she meets with lawyers, has potentially explosive conversations with her husband, etc.
posted by ecsh at 8:52 PM on July 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

beccaj: Keep in mind she can barely function- working full time, going to back to school, raising two girls - so I thought something like fresh baked cookies etc. Also- a book. Was there a self help that helped you deal with divorce??

For those who have dealt with something like this what would have/did help you??

That sounds extremely taxing. She may be too exhausted to realize this—I find that very hard-working people often are—but she really can't keep this up.

The best self-help in dealing with divorce? Friends who gently but firmly tell you what you need to do to stay healthy and safe, and to keep your life on track enough to keep moving. This is not to say that you need to make decisions for her, but it'll be handy for her if you can quickly sympathize and offer advice and consolation.

Meanwhile, there's only one thing harder than divorce, and that's divorce when there are kids involved. The only thing harder than that is divorce with kids involved and a full-time job. The only thing harder than that divorce, kids, full-time job and going to school. She needs to cut back on the huge number of things she's doing for her own health; I don't imagine she knows how, but there's got to be a way. Frankly, I think kids and school should be the priorities; it'd be good if she didn't have to work. That's in a perfect world, though.
posted by koeselitz at 9:29 PM on July 27, 2009

Best answer: Seconding what's been said. I went through this too and found that during this time a lot of my social group slipped away (I was the first in our group to get divorced), and that was awful.

It's important to be there for her. She undoubtedly is very upset and confused and this helped me:

* advise her to interview several lawyers until she meets one she feels comfortable with; offer to go with her to the appointments (or help her arrange them);

* something fun for the kids to occupy them (Wii saved my kids at this time);

* and seriously, a collection of exercise and yoga DVDs with a cute new workout outfit. I cannot underestimate the ability to get hardcore exercise at home when stressed. It helped a lot.

* If possible, nothing clears the head like a lovely walk.
posted by dzaz at 4:00 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd skip the fresh food (except for a meal together when you visit) and instead bring a bunch of prepared frozen food that's already in portion sizes so she can just pop it in the oven or nuke it and have food for a week or two. So it's one less thing she has to think about it.
posted by canine epigram at 6:19 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

She may not want solutions so much as someone to listen to her. Bring her flowers. Make the offer that you are there for her, anything she needs.
posted by bunny hugger at 7:44 AM on July 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Having been two months ago where she is today, I offer the following -

- Be there to listen, listen, listen. Let her know how sorry you are for her pain. She needs sympathy.
- Help her not fall so far into the pit of despair that she forgets to take care of herself and the kids both emotionally and practically. There are some big decisions she needs to make now and she will need to rise above the emotional trauma to take care of those things. Also, I lost 5 pounds in two weeks and in the process got a doozy of a flu. She needs to not let that happen.
- Let her know YOU won't abandon her. I was amazed at how abandoned I felt by my husband. Having others say, "Yes, but I won't abandon you" mattered tremendously.
posted by eleslie at 8:11 AM on July 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're up for it, I would suggest telling her she can call you at night. The middle of the night can be the loneliest time for people. It might help if she knows she has a friend she can call if she needs to.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:49 PM on July 28, 2009

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