Just the other day I hugged a scared, tearful, mom of three who just joined the club I entered almost 20 years ago. She didn’t want to be a member. She fought hard not to enter this tribe. She’s still unsure how exactly she ended up in sisterhood with me and millions of other “Good Girls” who said vows before God only to see it all dismantled before a judge.
The Club of Divorced Good Girls
Now let me address the obvious point that makes my situation way less painful than what many experience. When I sold my wedding band there were no little kids in attendance. I was able to donate wedding gifts knowing I never needed to see the face associated with the memory.
Getting out of an abusive marriage is tough enough so Lord Jesus be near the moms who must protect their little ones through that hell. Then be forced to work through custody agreements and financial battles together? No. I cannot even fathom.
Yet regardless of where you fall on the side of the split – the leaver or the left behind – being a Christian or “Good Girl” adds another layer of stigma. From re-entering church to attending events with no plus one the world does not make it an easy transition.
Holidays must now be maneuvered, negotiated and sometimes given up. The future of both parents sitting together at high school performances, college graduation or their little girl’s wedding one day must be grieved.
And in the situation of my friend mentioned above, everything presented to her from separation to divorce papers was a shock. Her happily ever after was taken away against her will.
Yet the number one question she fields from friends, family and even slight acquaintances is one that used to drive me batty too.
The innocuous “what happened?” As though the dismantling of a relationship and all its intricacies can be summed up in a soundbite. Or that all of it should be summed up at all for nosy information seekers.
Do you know how you can help a newly divorced woman or mom to little ones?
- Be kind.
It’s that simple. With over 50% of marriages failing in the US odds are if it’s not you, it’s gonna be a dear friend or precious family member returning one day soon to her maiden name or listing her wedding gown on Craigslist.
And it might seem odd as an encouragement blogger for moms up to their elbows in little kids to write a post aimed at divorced women these are moms of Littles trying to navigate the legal, emotional and societal battles too. God bless them.
If we strive to be Christlike then we should be actively looking for the least among us, the downtrodden, the meek due to heartbreak. That girl standing on the outside of the “perfect family circle” be it her choice or not needs us to scoop her up, stand alongside her in the pit and simply be a friend. Simply be like Christ. Simply be kind.
So how can you be kind?
- Don’t Judge – if you are couple friends you might immediately feel the need to choose sides. Beyond a tragic all details out or public trauma, you simply don’t know it all. In an effort to try and speak truth or hope into the situation, don’t make her feel guilty bringing up what this will do to her kids. She knows. She is well aware. Usually once someone announces a divorce, although it may be news to you as a casual friend, they have wrestled with the decision, had time for it to become their reality and are really just giving you the newsflash. Not the green light to try and talk them out of it.
- Show Support – dropping off a dinner or even taking a pizza order will be appreciated to help her get through the day. And yes, be it if she left or was left it is an emotional roller coaster like no other and a newly separated woman will welcome the chance to take “what’s for dinner” off her plate for a few nights. Offer to meet for coffee or something stronger to just listen. Another idea is to gather up several different gift cards and add them to a flowering plant she can replant at a new house or just see as “growth” to remind her hope springs eternal.
- Be there – let her know you will save a seat at church so she doesn’t have to be alone. Think of any plus one opportunities coming up or situation possibly making her feel awkwardly left out and bring her along. You’d be amazed how many jealous or insecure wives will suddenly clutch their husbands in fear the divorcee is now on the hunt. Trust me. That’s the last thing on her mind fresh off a court decree.
- Offer to help – there are so many opportunities to give a mom a break from watching her kids to paying for a few hours of babysitting. If you or your hubby are great with lawn or car maintenance and that’s now a whole new chore for her, offer to assist bringing her up to speed or offering names of service providers you trust.
- Check in – each and every holiday is still a “new normal” for her splintered family and November/December might present a whole new set of emotions or depression even if she was divorced in February. When the divorce decree is final see if she needs a pedicure or movie out with a girlfriend. In a year, check in again and see how she’s doing. People get really curious out the gate, then really awkward over time, but sometimes a simple “how are you doing?” makes all the difference to someone’s day.
- Pray – be a praying friend and tell her how you prayed for her. Send along verses of wisdom, peace, squashing anxiety and healing that you feel your friend would be blessed to hear.
- NO cheesy statements – no woman on the other side of a failed marriage is looking to hear “you’ll find someone soon” or “you’re so young” or “you’re so pretty he’ll be back.” What she needs are bold statements of faith and hope that validate her regardless of the future, Remind her how she is enough, she is worthy and she is going to be alright in time.
The only true cheesy statement? Time heals. It really does.
And here are a few more thoughts I leave you with stronger-than-you-know-momma whose marriage didn’t make it.
You will. You will make it.
Yes you are defeated now, but one day this will make you undefeatable.
One day you will no longer recognize the girl you were when you were married to him. And then just like a light switch, you’ll wake up and realize you no longer even want to be that girl.
There are no rules or timelines as to how you heal. No shoulds as to when you are ready to step a toe back into the dating pool. You get to write your story. But in the meantime, if you need to laugh at someone else’s follies, I wrote about that too.
PS, talking from experience here, if anyone tells you with a straight face “Jesus can just be your boyfriend now” you have my permission to say “bless your heart” dripping with Southern sarcasm and walk away.
You’re gonna be alright sweet girl. All us other club members are rooting for you.