Female Friends

From time to time we all find ourselves listening to a friend who is getting a divorce or considering one. Human compassion leads us to lend support to that friend. But what does it mean to support? Agreeing with him or her?  Maybe. Maybe not.

Frequently, something hurtful has happened, and the friend comes to you wounded and sad. You want to offer comfort. But so often one thing can lead to another – an escalation here, a bad encounter there – and soon the talk turns to divorce. All too frequently, the reasons for seeking divorce are not well considered. Pride gets in the way. A line is drawn in the sand. Cruel things are said. …. And the couple is suddenly on a trajectory to split up.

Be thoughtful before offering words of wisdom. If everything were clear, your friend would not be discussing the situation with you. Just maybe your friend is seeking counsel, REAL support, for doing what you believe is the right thing. Your friend could be crying out for help to achieve perspective – perspective not clouded by pain, hurt, anger – the wise and honest perspective of a wise and honest friend.

When parents set aside the anger and focus instead on their children, they can be heroic in times of marital difficulty.  This heroism, pure and simple, is sacrifice, sacrifice for the children’s welfare and an unwavering commitment to protect their one and only childhood. It is powerful and humbling stuff to witness. How can it be better for you than to know something you said or did brought out this wonderful heroism? Every parent and every spouse possesses this characteristic. Sometimes, though, it is hard to find.

Not every hurt can be reconciled. Not every word can be taken back.  Sometimes the genie simply cannot be put back in the bottle. What happens ultimately is out of your control. But you can control the way you support your friend. By appealing to that person’s higher good, the sense of sacrifice and heroism, you help your friend decide to do the right thing. If there are children, the result of the heroism and sacrifice can be a preservation of childhood happiness. Children or no children, the result can be peace. The great irony is that when parents set aside hurt and anger as they commit to saving their children, they save themselves. What would you want your friends to do?

Support heroic behavior. It’s good for everyone.