Supporting a divorcing loved one without taking sides

When divorce becomes contentious, it is rarely a battle between just two people. More often than not, family and friends seek to get involved, immediately rushing to take sides and to vilify the other spouse.

While this urge is a natural one, it may not be the best course of action. In fact, it may not even be the best way to support whichever spouse one has chosen to unify with. Instead, choosing sides and placing blame (especially right away) might make the divorce more acrimonious and painful than it needs to be.

In many cases, one spouse files for divorce and the other one responds. Formally, these roles are called the petitioner and respondent. Unfortunately, many outside observers may judge the petitioner as the “bad guy” for initiating the divorce. But this judgment is often premature and unfair. In most cases, both spouses share responsibility for the deterioration of the marriage.

The other thing that should be considered is what taking sides may do to the children whose parents are getting divorced. When in-law relationships become strained, the children may suffer because they can no longer enjoy spending time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles. At the very least, they may be exposed to relatives badmouthing one of their parents, which children should not have to hear.

If you are trying to support a family member or loved one during divorce, you don’t have to pick sides in order to do it. Instead of pushing for an explanation, vilifying the other spouse or acting as a go-between, simply ask: “What can I do to help?”

If you are the one going through a divorce, you can tell your loved ones that they don’t need to take sides. In doing so, you may be helping yourself and your children by not letting the acrimony escalate.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Why You Shouldn’t Interfere With a Divorce,” Thomasina Guidry, May 4, 2015

Related Posts