Sunday, August 05, 2007

Dealing with Friends And Family During Divorce

In a divorce it is not just mom, dad, and the kids who are affected. Your parents, siblings, in-laws, uncles, aunts, and friends are all drawn into the conflict. As you begin the divorce process, your tendency will be to think only of your most immediate world: home, children, and property. This is the core that is changing, but that can blind you to the larger world outside. As the process drags on you will discover that your entire range of relationships has changed. Some of these changes are sudden and huge. Others are far subtler.

Whose friend is whose? Will you ever see your in-laws again? What are the fault lines of your children’s loyalties? Will any of their friendships be affected? Much of this turns on the divorce process itself. The nastier it gets, the more difficult these questions become. Can you remain friends with the couple that is still on good terms with your ex? When you’re around them do you have to watch every word you say?

As with all issues of divorce, this one is easier if the split is amicable. If you and your ex are on friendly terms, that feeling will usually extend to his relatives. But if things have been ugly, then relationships change radically. The bitterness in a divorce tends to bleed into far too many other parts of one’s life.

When you are one of the people who are divorcing, you suffer not only the loss of a spouse, but a whole set of people you cared about. These may be people you spoke to candidly, folks with whom you shared holidays and vacations. You may have even thought of them as people you would confide in about anything. Suddenly they are cast into an enemy camp, and you wish you’d never said a word to them.

The easy thing to say is: be strong. The most important thing to say is: go to the friends and family who have stuck with you. When people turn against you, go to those people who are true to you. Your real friends won’t ask you to spell out everything, or to prove anything. They will simply give you love and support, and that is exactly what you need most now.

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