If you’re divorcing your spouse after many years together, you may feel like you’re not just losing a partner but your entire social circle and support system.
Friends may disappear. When couples divorce, their friends (particularly other couples) often feel like they have to choose sides and continue socializing with one or the other spouse. They may avoid both of them.
This happens because it can be frightening and disconcerting to see a couple you’ve known for years suddenly split — even if the problems had long been brewing under the surface. People wonder if what happened to their seemingly happy friends could happen to them.
You may feel sad about your in-laws. If you’ve relied on your in-laws for support and likely considered them family, it can be jarring to contemplate an end to those relationships or perhaps only brief, strained interactions if there are kids involved.
None of these other “breakups” is a foregone conclusion when you divorce. However, you may need to take the initiative to reach out to people — especially those you know socially or perhaps through involvement in clubs or organizations. Tell them how much you value your friendship or other relationship and that you hope it can continue.
Of course, this is also an opportunity to extract some people from your life. You no longer have to deal with your spouse’s pompous boss or annoying best friend. Further, you may find that people whom you thought were your friends aren’t on your side now.
You need a strong support system during and after divorce perhaps more than you ever have before. If you don’t have one, go out and make one. By getting out more on your own, you’ll be able to create a new “tribe.”
If you have grown children, it may be tempting to rely on them for support, particularly if you’ve become estranged from in-laws and friends. However, remember that they’re grieving over the divorce in their own way. You wouldn’t criticize your spouse to younger children or ask them to take sides. You shouldn’t do that with adult children either.
If you can go through your divorce with a minimum of conflict and stress and come out of it with a fair settlement that puts you in a strong position to move forward, you can more quickly focus on your other relationships. Having experienced legal guidance can make all the difference.