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astralweaver

Help me support a friend going through Divorce

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Hi,

I have a friend, a fellow homeschooling mama, who is going through a pretty terrible divorce. I have never been in a situation like hers and she is struggling with some serious feelings. It’s been 3 years since her husband left, and they finally got all the financial and custodial issues worked out legally this past summer. They were officially divorced last month. 

In all this time, she has tried her best to help her kids through it all. She hasn’t badmouthed him or the woman he left her for. She hasn’t complained about the months he refused to pay support to force her to go to work and give up homeschooling. She tries to make transfers between the two households comfortable and without drama.

But it’s really hurting her to see her kids with her ex and the other woman. She feels so hurt still by what her did to her in the lead up to to their separation and worries that letting the kids be around the woman she considers a home wrecker is irresponsible of her as a parent. Her anger is growing so much right now after years of being only in survival mode that she wants to tell some of her kids some of the details. She has four, ages 16, 14, 10, and 7. The oldest is the only boy.

I have counseled her not to. I’m not sure what she could gain from it and the ex is a really vindictive guy. If he takes it as my friend intervening in his current relationship he might take it out on her in legal stuff. I also worry that then the kids will feel all three of the adults in their life are messed up and willing to lay their burdens on them. The kids do know the facts about the break up but not most of the fall out on their mother.

Also, since I’ve never been divorced and my parents never divorced, I feel unequipped to give advice on how the kids might feel and how it would affect their relationships. 

What I would like to know is this:

1) If you went through something like this, what were the best ways your friends comforted and supported you?

2) What are some book recommendations I could give her regarding the perspectives of children after divorces?

3) She has not gone to therapy and I really think she needs it. Her oldest child is in therapy but the others aren’t. I also have tried to look for divorce support groups for her. She’s not refusing those things but she’s so burdened and overwhelmed that she basically does no self-care at all. It’s all she can do to get through each minute of the day and no amount of my “put your oxygen mask on first” speeches has made any dent at all. I totally get why this is happening but what will need to happen for her to realize she needs these things.

4) What faith based resources might be useful? I’m an atheist, but she is an evangelical Christian. I met her after her marriage fell apart and I feel pretty sure that if we’d met before that we would never have become friends. She’s ... from money, and cares about appearances, and believed in the power of cheerfully carrying out your callings. I’m ... a mess. Really, no better way to put it. It’s all jeans and sci-fi t-shirts. I am on meds and in therapy for severe anxiety issues. But I like helping. And she needed help. So over the past couple of years we’ve bonded. She needs more than I can give her and though I don’t share her beliefs I can tell that’s where she wishes her help was coming from. Is there an organization for divorced Christian women, or books to read, or forums she can surf?

Anyway, thanks for any insight. I love her kids and I care about her. My husband goes to fix stuff over there for her, I take the kids to do stuff a lot, and I listen to her vent and try not to judge her when I catch myself thinking, “how can you still love him when he was such an a-hole?” Where can she go from here? 

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My situation is a bit different as my ex is in prison for life for sex offenses involving minors.  It is a tough rode and maybe hers is harder in some ways.

One book that was the best one for me to read during the terrible mess as It's Not Fair: Learning to Love the Life You Didn't Chose by Melanie Dale.  She is a Christian, as am I, but she doesn't sugar coat things but rather tells it like it is.  I appreciated that.

She might be missing him, as a person, but maybe more so, missing what she has lost....a husband to care for her and parent with her, a full time dad for her kids, a partner to do things socially with, etc.

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A friend of mine is going through a 13 week program called Divorce Care. She says she has progressed so much further in a few weeks with this group and program than she did in the past year on her own. She is good about showing up and the ‘homework’.

https://www.divorcecare.org/about

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I don’t have any advice but I just wanted to tell the OP I think it is so kind of you to try to help. You’re a good friend! 

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Well, I went through it.  It isn’t pretty.,  and I will say that over a year after I discovered the affair and kicked him out the financials were finally finished and that was unexpectedly some of the worst times.  

When you say the kids  know the basics.....they know dad left their mother for this other woman?  I am a firm believer in the kids at least knowing that much.....anything beyond that she really just needs to keep to herself.  

As far as resources.....a marriage board helped me a great deal.  I also had a great IRL network.  The best things my friends did for me was to keep listening to me.  I know it got old....me being so obsessed by it all. 

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I vote not to say anything unless your friend has a pile of money to pay for college for four kids.

I have a friend whose husband had an affair when the oldest child was 8th grade. The (then) 8th grader knew the details. I "think" the mom told the teen but we weren't super close friends at that time so I cannot be sure how the teen found out. So, all thru high school, the teen refused to see the dad at his new house with the "other woman". The teen would go if the dad took just her out for coffee, movies, etc...  Dad didn't enforce the custody arrangement with the teen but did take the younger kids on his assigned days to the new house with his new partner.

In this state, most divorces include an order for parents to split college costs. What that looks like in real life can be very different (and somewhat unenforceable).  It's a little weird to basically ignore your dad's partner for four years then suddenly expect that the dad is going to use some of his income (that supports the new family) to help the angry teen pay for an expensive private college.

 

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43 minutes ago, amyx4 said:

I vote not to say anything unless your friend has a pile of money to pay for college for four kids.

I have a friend whose husband had an affair when the oldest child was 8th grade. The (then) 8th grader knew the details. I "think" the mom told the teen but we weren't super close friends at that time so I cannot be sure how the teen found out. So, all thru high school, the teen refused to see the dad at his new house with the "other woman". The teen would go if the dad took just her out for coffee, movies, etc...  Dad didn't enforce the custody arrangement with the teen but did take the younger kids on his assigned days to the new house with his new partner.

In this state, most divorces include an order for parents to split college costs. What that looks like in real life can be very different (and somewhat unenforceable).  It's a little weird to basically ignore your dad's partner for four years then suddenly expect that the dad is going to use some of his income (that supports the new family) to help the angry teen pay for an expensive private college.

 

I guess I am a little confused about what you are saying....,,don’t tell the kids why the divorce happened so that dad will pay for college?

i have found dad’s either pay for stuff or they don’t.  Those who hold crap over ex wives heads are less likely to pay regardless of what she does.  I would not be held hostage by that sort of torment.  

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2 hours ago, matrips said:

A friend of mine is going through a 13 week program called Divorce Care. She says she has progressed so much further in a few weeks with this group and program than she did in the past year on her own. She is good about showing up and the ‘homework’.

https://www.divorcecare.org/about

 

I second this, i have not been through it myself, but our church has a group and our church is really selective about what groups meet with the church’s endorsement. Do have her check to see if there’s one local to her. 

You are a dear friend, seeking her best interest. She is blessed to have you care for her.  

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