Watch Your Mouth
Things You Should Never Say to a Divorcing Friend
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When you hear that a close friend is divorcing, you want to be nothing but supportive. But when you combine the delicate subject matter with your own mixed feelings (Is she making the right choice? Is my marriage in trouble too?), it's easy to end up blurting out the wrong thing. You may mean to say, I'm worried for you, but you end up saying, How will you take care of your family now? "Friends try to be helpful, but their own fears and biases can make their comments backfire," says Monique Honaman, author of The High Road Has Less Traffic: Honest Advice on the Path through Love and Divorce. Here are eight things you should avoid saying to a divorcing friend, plus helpful words you should offer up instead.
"I knew it would happen eventually!"
This comment, along with the ever-popular You know, I never really liked him, comes across as pessimistic and, worse, dismissive of your friend's entire marriage, says Lisa Rene Reynolds, Ph.D., marital therapist and author of Parenting Through Divorce: Helping Your Kids Thrive During and After the Split. "She might think, Why didn't you tell me?" Your friend may even suspect that you've never trusted her decisions. Not only that, but when you say anything like I knew it, you're implying that you understand more than she does about her own relationship—which is a major insult, says Reynolds. Instead, if you mean I'm on your side, then say precisely that, suggests Honaman. That will keep the focus on her. You might also ask what you can do to help, such as offering to find a good therapist or attorney or taking her out for a drink so she can vent.
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