During a divorce, most assets get divided in half. A couple may decide who gets the property and other belongings, but who gets custody of your friends? Should friends be divided in half? Couple friends are often placed in a delicate position. They care about both of you, but can no longer invite both of you to their house at the same time. Many times women and men want to maintain the friendship separately. What happens the next time they have a party? Should they invite one and not the other? Who decides?
The outcome really depends on who was a friend before your marriage or other conditions surrounding the friendship such as working together or going to church together. The friends I worked with continued to be my friends and if I knew them first or outside of my marriage, they remained friends. Whatever you do, it’s not a good idea to try to make people choose. Don’t try to influence anyone by bad mouthing your spouse in order to win conflicted friends over to your side.
Your friends should be allowed to decide who they want to maintain as a friend after the divorce. If they suddenly stop returning your calls, don’t take it personally. Most of all don’t harass them trying to convince them that you are the victim. Don’t try to steal friends by confronting them and trying to make them feel sorry for you or guilty for maintaining a relationship with your former spouse.
Some couples can’t choose and will continue to invite both of you over which can be extremely awkward. You may have to turn down a few invitations here or there as to not run into your spouse. It gets even more awkward when one or both of you start dating or remarry. Don’t be surprised when suddenly the invitations to family and friends’ gatherings come to a screeching halt. I remember the first time I didn’t get invited to a birthday party for one of my former friends. I had just seen them at the mall and they didn’t mention anything. I was really disappointed when I found out the party had already occurred. What was even more disheartening years later was not being invited and finding out my ex-spouse was invited and brought a guest along with him.
Friends often feel like they have to choose between you and your ex-spouse, and they don’t know how to continue being friends with both of you during the divorce period. Again, don’t take it personally because their choice may have nothing to do with you. Your status my expose their vulnerabilities. Just like they may not have had a clue what was going on in your home, you may not be aware of their marital struggles. Sadly some of my friends sought my advice later when their marriages were failing or they were going through a divorce themselves.
If you lost friends in the divorce process, you may find yourself mourning over your loss. You may feel like Job did in his time of trouble. “My best friends and loved ones have turned from me.” (Job 19:19 CEV). Use Godly discernment when seeking new friends. Pray for guidance and God will send the right people your way. Be careful of those who just want to get the real story. Be careful of finding pity party buddies. Seek out friends who are like-minded who also share your values. The quickest way to ruin your testimony is to choose the wrong friends, those with the wrong reputation. Choose your friends wisely.
Finally, it’s too bad you can’t keep all of your friends after a divorce, but it is reality. There’s a time for everything and friends were meant to be in your life for a season. Now that you are in a new season, it is time for new friends. Friends can be helpful in this difficult season in your life and they can be found in many places even if you have known them for a long time. There are some old friends who will stick by you and support you and you can always count on them through thick and thin. They have been there for you perhaps before you married and will continue to be your friend. Take an inventory of your friends and decide which ones you want keep. Then ask God to send you some new friends. In 2nd Corinthians 4:8-9 (GNT) Paul reminds us: We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.”
Remember your first day at school? You were nervous about making new friends, but by end of the week you had at least two best friends.
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach