Surviving a divorce requires building a support system of family and friends on whom you can rely. You may find that you need to start turning to them early on in the process.
People who care about you want to help but do not always know how. They may say or do things that are unhelpful at best or unintentionally hurtful at worst. Fortunately, there are things you can do to have constructive conversations about your divorce with members of your support system.
Know your audience
If you have known someone for a long time, you probably have a pretty good idea of how he or she is going to react to certain types of news. This can be to your benefit because when you need something specific from your support system, such as advice or sympathy, you have a pretty good idea where to go and whom to ask.
Expect others to view the news through their own filter
According to Psychology Today, the experiences that others have had with divorce, whether their own or those of people close to them, can color their response to news of yours. For example, a relative who left an unhappy marriage may congratulate you, while a friend who watched his or her parents’ marriage break down may offer condolences.
It is normal for people to respond to your news based on how it affects them, but their response may not be what you need if you are feeling vulnerable.
State what you want from the other person
No matter how close they may be, your family and friends cannot read your mind. Rather than expect them to know intuitively what you need from them, state it explicitly at the beginning of the conversation.
For example, if you do not want advice, it is completely appropriate to tell the other person that you just need someone to listen while you express your feelings.