My best friends are getting divorced - advice needed please

One of my friends called me up crying a few minutes ago. She said her and her husband are getting a divorce. These people are very good friends of mine and my husband - we’ve known them about 7 years now, and they’ve been together for the majority of that time. We regularly go out for coffee and have movie nights at each other’s houses.

This news came as a complete shock to me - her and her husband are one of those couples who seem made for each other, and neither me or Mr. AFG have seen any outward signs of trouble between them. I’m totally depressed over this right now.

I invited her over so she can try to relax a bit and we can talk. I have no idea what to say to help her at all - what should I (or shouldn’t I) say to her? This is a really tough time for her and I want to be supportive.

If you like them both, as you say, try not to take sides. As someone who has been through a divorce, I remember when folks would take a crack at my soon-to-be-ex, and it didn’t help. All I got out of that was the feeling that I’d made a bad choice in partners, I must be dumb.

Just be there to listen, for now.

Just have a plentitude of kleenex handy and some tea or hot cocoa, maybe it will relax her as she talks to you. And keep the night free for her, turn the answering machine on, cancel plans and get ready for a night of crying.

And I agree to not take sides and just listen. Who knows, maybe it was just a threat, and they’re just taking time off. I’ve known couples who say they’re going to get divorced, get all hyped, then decide to work it out since a divorce would cause so much trouble. You never know =/

Sorry for your friend and good luck in comforting both them through this time of need.

You know, saying you’re not going to “take sides” isn’t as easy at it sounds. When my BIL got divorced, his soon-to-be ex interpreted things I said as being “on her side”. This resulted in what may be irrepairable damage between my husband and his brother.

I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what you may think, you’ll likely take one side or the other in their eyes.

Do not say anything bad about one of them to the other, no matter what kind of jerk either of them has been. I made this mistake once, and now they both hate me. If you’ve got to say something besides, “there, there” or “oh, sweetie”, say something positive like, “You’ve always been such a strong person” or “You’ve been a great wife to him”.

Whatever you do, try not to drift away. A good friend of mine is going through this right now and the most hurtful thing to her has been the people who are avoiding her, even though their intentions are good. They don’t know what to say, or they’re giving her her space, or they feel like she might not be ready to socialize (which she’s not). So, whatever you say, say something. It would mean a lot to my friend if more people were just dropping by and having a cup of coffee, or offering to take the kids for an hour while she’s meeting the lawyer, but a lot of people just aren’t sure where to start. My mom, who went through a divorce before I was born, said this was one of the worst parts for her, too. She felt ostracized.

Be very Canadian :wink: - in other words, follow everyone’s advice about being supportive and available to listen without saying anything critical about the soon-to-be-ex. If you want to have the chance to remain friends with both after the dust settles, this is really important. This includes avoiding revealing that (for example) you have thought for awhile that her guy was not good to her. There may be a natural tendency for you to be comforting the wife while Mr. AFG listens to the husband of the other couple, slowly sucking the two of you into the fray as well - please be aware of this tendency and resist it.

I’ll echo what everyone else has said. However, I can’t help but wondering if this couple could work it out. Would you feel comfortable suggesting counseling? Of course, I don’t know the reasons why they are planning to get divorced, so I don’t know if that would work for sure. Even if their relationship still ended in divorce, counseling might be worth a shot, though, if they want to save their marriage.

I really think they could work it out. The problem is is that the Mr. has a job managing the tech support dept. in a big computer company, and he works 12 hour days and is more or less always on call even when he’s supposed to have time off. The Mrs. doesn’t work and basically just sits around all day. They live out in the boonies so she doesn’t have any friends who live close. I arrange lunch dates with her a couple times a week, but I work full time so I don’t get to hang out with her for long. So she’s lonely, and when the Mr. comes home he’s usually exhausted and frustrated about something at work. She wants to make things better but doesn’t know how, and he is so caught up in his work he doesn’t have much time for her. She tends to internalize her problems b/c she’s afraid of “inconveniencing” people by telling them - to which I’ve told her many times to not be silly, friends are there to listen - so she’s been seething up with negative feelings for a long time that finally boiled over.

The Mr. totally did not see it coming, and is quite distraught. He loves her, and I know she loves him, too. I suggested that they might try counselling, and she said maybe. I think she needs some time first to be away and talk to friends and get some of the bad feelings out of her system. But I am really hoping they can avoid divorce.

Definitely sounds like a reconciliation is possible. It also sounds like she needs something to do! I’ve had friends who have gone through this same thing. In their cases, they were much happier when they had at least a part-time job. Volunteer work might be another option.
I remember when my husband and I first got married, he’d come home all grumpy and sulk all night. He works in sales, and it’s very stressful sometimes. He’s the type of person who keeps everything inside and I’m the type of person who just blows up and then feels much better. After much pleading, I convinced him to come home and tell me about it when he has a bad day. It’s surprising how much it has changed our lives. Now, he comes home and says, “Wow, X customer was such a jerk, he did this, etc.” and gets it off his chest. It’s good for him to talk to someone about it, and I like not sitting there thinking he’s mad at me all night when really it’s a customer he’s fuming over. Your friends both sound like they need to start doing this on a daily basis—sit down and tell each other what happened during the day.
Anyway, I really hope things work out for them. They sound like they really do love each other.

Of course its never this simple, but why doesnt she work? Then in turn wouldnt he be able to find a job that requires less of him? So instead of him working 100%, they’re sharing it and bringing in the same, if not more income as they are now?