You have to be careful though so you don’t complicate things for your friend. Here is how to help when your friend’s marriage is on the rocks.
You are with your friend through so many phases of her love life. From that first crush, to that secondary school boyfriend she held hands with, to that university boyfriend she lost her virginity to, to that work boyfriend who gave her that first major heartbreak, and to other adult relationships she had before finally finding the man she married.
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Maybe you two found your forever-mates around the same time, and grew together as couple friends. Perhaps you were a bridesmaid or even the maid of honor in her wedding. The point is that, you have invested in her marriage. You have seen it grow and, for the most part, you have felt it was a good one.
But if your friend’s marriage is struggling, you will want to help. You have to be careful though so you don’t complicate things for your friend. Here is how to help when your friend’s marriage is on the rocks.
Don’t tell her to be in or out
Whatever you think she should do—fix the marriage or join the divorce statistics—you can’t tell her, flat out. You may think her marriage is over and that she should give up, but if you say so, and she stays, she will feel you disapprove.
Assess what she wants
Find out what your friend wants. Does she want to save this marriage? Does she want a way out? You have to support her within those desires. Remember that she will probably figure that out eventually what she truly wants. What she needs from you is to not feel judged.
Be a good listener
Be a tremendous listener. This is important for her, and for you. Your friend needs somewhere to talk out her thoughts with right now. You should also get all the information you can if you are going to make informed comments.
Encourage her to talk to him
While you should be there for your friend to talk to, you shouldn’t be the only person she’s talking to. If you get the hunch that she’s just talking to other people about her marriage, and not directly to her husband, nudge her to talk to her spouse.
Don’t dramatize her stance
If your friend doesn’t think something is a huge deal like her partner coming home later than usual one night or sleeping in the guest room one night, then you shouldn’t make it out to be one. She’s the one in her marriage, who knows if something is really a big deal. She doesn’t need people sounding alarms right now.
Be there when she needs an escape
When someone is fixing their marriage, it can feel like a fulltime job. There will be times your friend just needs a mental break, and asks you to take a girls trip or go out for dinner. Help her out and go with her.
Discourage her from running away
Just be careful not to enable your friend in running away from her problems. If she wants to start sleeping on your sofa most nights of the week or to go on a trip for three months without her spouse, she’s moving into avoidance territory.
Do not talk to other people about your friend’s marriage problems. If she has any chance of fixing things, she needs a safety bubble around her marriage. She doesn’t need outsiders giving unsolicited opinions and advice.
Consider what you know about her
You know your friend. If this is a childhood friend, then you know her family history, her traumas, and her insecurities. You know when she is reacting to a relationship problem and when she’s just had a personal problem triggered. Keep all of that in mind.
Don’t make assumptions
Don’t ever tell your friend, “You’re just feeling this way because your parents got a divorce” or “You only say that because that one guy cheated on you.” Nobody likes to be accused of not understanding their own feelings.
Ask engaging questions
Ask questions to help your partner better understand her own needs and feelings. You are an outsider and you can pick up on patterns that perhaps your friend cannot. You can ask questions to help her see those, too. Don’t say negative things about her marriage. You are there to help her figure out what she thinks not to put your own thoughts into her head.
Support her however you can
Be prepared for the fact that people can do some shocking and odd things when their marriage is on the rocks. Approach her gently. Don’t come off as judgmental. Be there for her through this turbulent time.