I don’t know about you, but I get so discouraged when I hear a friend, family or anyone start talking the “D” word. (yes divorce). The “D” word is HORRIBLE in most circumstances. I was talking with my daughter just last night and she said something very interesting. “If only when they say they were sorry it would make things better, but it doesn’t.” Said like a true child of divorce. She has a good relationship with me, her mom, her dad’s is getting better and stepparents it’s mostly ok. But there is still a lot of frustration and sadness she experiences. So I really want to focus on how we can help others. Here’s what I’ve come up with and what I have found to be helpful personally.
1. Encourage your friend to be with other positive people. When we hang out with others that have divorced, they are positive about divorce, but not marriage. We need to be hanging out with others that are married and basically happy. Go out with the girlfriends or guy friend. Get the support of being with friends and having time and accountability.
2. Encourage your friend to find the “Good” in their spouse. What’s good about them and the relationship. Sometimes they need a little help. I know it’s easy to get into a spouse bashing party. I’ve been frustrated this past two weeks with my spouse and it’s been so helpful for my friends to point out his point of view and give me a lashing to get out of the self-pity.
3. Encourage your friend to go out on a DATE with their spouse. One of the greatest indicators of a strong healthy marriage is for couples to spend time connecting with each other. Date Night is not quite the same when you watch TV or a Movie together. That’s ok occasionally but encourage them to try something different. Check out my previous blog.
4. Encourage them to be in church. Besides all the spiritual benefits, church is a great social support system. There is a better chance to find couples that are positive about marriage htan at the BAR as I tell my patients and my own children. Getting into a positive spiritual atmosphere also brings out the best in both spouses.
5. Encourage them to touch, hold hands and let their kids see them hold hands and kiss. When a couple touches more frequently they have a greater chance of making it. I could do my Oxytocin Lecture here, but I won’t. But touching builds a strong bond between couples. I’m not really talking about SEX but touch is necessary.
6. Encourage them to read positive books. Some of my favorites are “The Five Love Languages” or “Love and Respect”. These particular books are very positive when couples are struggling a bit. There are actually things that they can do and encouraging words to hear.
7. Demonstrate in your own marriage all the above. People notice when you have a good relationship and will encourage you as well as ask for help. But if they can see it demonstrated it’s very powerful.
8. Listen, but don’t necessarily agree with them. You can encourage them by helping them to remember some of the good times they have had. Such as ask them how they met or where did they go on their first date? These questions help them remember the good times. Sometimes we just need someone to help us remember the good times.
9. Encourage other friends that hang out with them to do the above to help them. Help them to be surrounded with those that BELIEVE in healthy marriages. You might want to have a small group that just encourages them.
10. If they share that they have been physically harmed or they are in some type of physical danger encourage them to seek help from the Domestic Violence Shelter locally. Stay close and watch for signs that they are being abused. Many withdraw from their friends when there is violence involved. Keep checking on them, a call or text is very helpful.
I hope these are helpful and I encourage you to encourage your friends to keep working on their marriages. It’s worth it in the end.