Contributed by Eileen Stoner, The Stoner Group
In situations involving separation and divorce, a good friend may be the very next person to know the truth beyond the couple themselves. How can you help? First, understand that you can help by simply listening. Active listening is a skill. Our brains are sometimes busy formulating a response while we are still listening to the other person; this can lead to miscommunication.  When I seek to ensure that I am actively listening, I try for a 70/30 strategy where listening occupies the 70% share. Your friend may benefit greatly from feeling truly “heard” by you as she mentally and emotionally processes this major life event.
A few things to consider: It can be hard when a good friend has been betrayed or treated badly, but try to resist the urge to pile on with an attack on the offending spouse. If there is no physical danger involved, circumstances may change and perhaps they will eventually work it all out. If they do resolve their problems, it may be better that she not know “what you really think” of him.
Another approach to consider: Giving too much advice about what she should do. This can easily happen, especially if you’ve gone through separation/divorce yourself. It is tempting to offer advice upon the assumption that the steps you took though the process will prove to be the best solution for her as well. Maybe, but maybe not. In the early stages she may need a friend to hear her out.
On the positive side, along with listening there are additional ways you can help. As women, we can be in a unique position to help other women navigate through challenging seasons of life. You can be a connector. As you listen you may get a sense that she is ready to bring some professionals in for guidance. Think therapist, family law attorney, financial professional, job coach, realtor, and more.
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