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OT How to support someone going through a divorce

stepadvice's picture

I don't post much but I read a lot of the posts. My sister called me today and said she most likely will be filing for divorce in the next month or so. Some background. They have been married almost 8 years next month. She is the breadwinner and her soon to be ex-husband just left his job to start his own company. All I know is that they tried couples counseling and it did not work. She said he has a lot of issues that he does not know how to handle. There was no cheating or drugs involved. He is a great father even to her acknowledgment. She said she hopes one day they can learn to be friends for the children's sake. 

She said she is going to contact a mediator when she returns from vacation to see about the next steps. I suggested speaking to a lawyer instead. Years ago I worked in family law so I did ask her if she thought she would owe him alimony since she makes more money now that he quit his job to start a new company. They both have/had high power jobs that they each have the earning potential of making well into the 6 figures. Her husband seems like a nice guy to me I honestly never got to know him too well but what I do know is that he loves his children and they love him. The kids are 3 and 6 years old. All she keeps saying is that she wants to do what is in the best interest of the chidlren and is taking it one day at a time. 

She is very private so I don't think I will ever know the real reason why or full details of what went wrong in her marriage. She is bitter and mad at this time but that is to be expected. However, I want to support her to the best of my ability. It is hard for her to ask for help and I do not want to overstep. Right now she is very embarrassed and afraid to admit her marriage is over. When I mentioned I can come out on the weekend to keep her company she told me no she doesnt want me there. I understand but don't know what to do to help her through this difficult time. For now we promised to text every other day and call once a week. Its hard for her to talk as usually the kids are within earshot. 

Those of you that went through a divorce what were some things your family and friends did to help you with the transition? I would love to take her out and spoil her with a day of pampering but it seems right now that is not what she wants. Is there anything I can do to help. I feel really helpless and my heart breaks that she is going through this. 

Comments

StepUltimate's picture

I never got divorced or had any sisters, but if I did I hope it would be a sister as caring & considerate as you.

 

still learning's picture

Listen and be supportive but also let her know that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.  Divorce is expensive, messy and really hard on kids. Then it gets really complicated when new gf/bf SM/SF come on the scene. It sounds like they have a lot at stake.  If this were my sister I'd encourage seperation rather than divorce and giving counseling another try with a different counselor.  

NotURMomma's picture

Why would she divorce the father of her children when he is a good dad, not a cheater nor abuses substances? Marriage is supposed to be in good times and bad. I ditched my ex husband but he was lazy and put his hands on me and lied to me and it took me years to come the conclusion.

Has your sister tried marriage counseling?

susanm's picture

She may not be the one asking for the divorce.  No one really knows what happens behind closed doors.  It is wonderful that he is a good dad but he may not be a good husband.  It seems pretty clear that she is not ready to talk about specifics yet.

justmakingthebest's picture

I agree with NotURMomma on this one. I think in order to support her I would have to know more. 

Marriage isn't easy. If you ask your grandparents, I bet they will tell you that there were YEARS where they didn't even like each other. Divorcing should be a last resort. If the first counselor didn't help, did they try more? Have they gone away for a week, just the 2 of them to reconnect? 

I hate to see people give up on a marriage just because it isn't all fun and games and got hard. 

However, if you just need to blindly support her, I would recommend helping her with her custody paperwork. Convince her to make it as fair as possible. Also explain that she will need to keep all her future opinions about her STBexH to herself in front of her kids. Remind her that since he is a great dad and has a job, he will get scooped up fast. Be prepared for that. Also, tell her dating in your 30's sucks A$$. -- I am doing this all wrong. Support her by bringing her wine. She will need lots of wine. 

StrawberryPie's picture

Be supportive, and be there to listen.  Also remind her not to make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling.  Maybe this feeling is not temporary, maybe it is.  But there is nothing wrong with being methodical and taking this process slowly.

ESMOD's picture

Best advice.  Get the BEST legal advice that you can afford.. even if you don't think you can afford it.. MAKE it a PRIORITY.

Then, have your attorney get you the maximum of EVERYTHING you are entitled to under the law.  Have your obligations to your EX be the LEAST you are required to do under the law.

In the end.. if you think you have too much?  you can always voluntarily give things back lol.

The bottom line is that many times women don't want to be a bad person.. they want people to like them.  They feel if they are reasonable, they won't be hated.  They give away too much trying to be nice.. this is NOT the time to be nice.  I'm not saying ACT an Ahole.. but do ensure you are legally fully armed.

susanm's picture

Agree 100%.  Obviously it is important to co-parent reasonably but as far as splitting things financially she has to be completely objective.  He left a high paying job to start a business recently.  Especially if he is the one asking for divorce, an expectation that he should get alimony because of his new business should be fought vigourously.  Quitting his job was a choice and it no longer fits in the current economic reality.  Enjoyment of her earning capacity to have the luxury to start a business is for marital partners only.  He can either make the business turn a profit ASAP, downgrade his standard of living to what the business is earning, or go back to his previous work.  

stepadvice's picture

Sorry for not posting replies to questions as a lot has been going on the past week.

My sister is very private and I don't have the whole story. What I do know is that she DOES NOT want this divorce. She said they have tried counseling the past 9 months and it has not worked. Apparently, he is the one unhappy in the marriage and has told her he does not love her.

She doesn't deserve to live in a marriage where one partner isn't happy. He moved out of the bedroom into the basement. Apparently, he won't make the final push to file so she needs to.

I am trying my best to support her. They are all going on a trip to disney next week with both sets of inlaws. My brother and I have both begged her to cancel because we can only see disaster written on the trip. But she is stubborn and will not change her mind.

I told her to speak to an attorney figure out all her options and than make the best decision for her and the kids. She comes from the notion that if I don't have children or am divorced than my opinion does not matter to her. So I listen and am keeping my opinions to myself. I feel bad for all involved and know she is hurting right now.

Pinkleton's picture

i am currently going through a divorce. My divorce is slightly different as I am the one who initiated it and i do not have children with my stbx. 

However, a few things i can add for you from my experiences: Do not question her about anything related to the divorce. I hate when people ask about it or want to know details of anything. If i want to tell you, I will do that. Please don't ask questions and tread carefully when discussing. Do NOT give me your opinions. I don't want to hear you talk badly about the man I chose to marry. I don't want to hear you say how "i'll be better off" or "it was a mistake" or "I shouldnt have done it". I don't care what you think about me, my choices, or my stbx or his choices. I know whats fucked up and I know whats right, I don't need to hear it from someone else. I do like when people reassure me that things will be okay in the future. I don't need you to put my marriage down or my stbx down just to do that. You can talk up my future without bringing him into it.