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Supporting loved ones throughout the divorce process

Every divorce process plays out in unique ways. Therefore, it is impossible to know exactly what to expect when a family member or friend opts to divorce his or her spouse. However, it is safe to assume that your loved one will need various kinds of support throughout their divorce process. Unfortunately, knowing exactly how to support your loved one can be quite tricky.

If you have weathered divorce in the past, you may be tempted to treat your loved one exactly how you would have liked to have been treated during your process. However, it is important to understand that not everyone reacts to this process in the same way. As a result, it is important to personalize your support in accordance with your loved one's personality and your own personality as well.

Your loved one's personality

There are few hard and fast rules that apply to the divorce process. Certainly, it is vitally important to obtain experienced legal guidance once a couple has decided to divorce. And it is almost always a bad idea to allow extremely negative emotions to "drive" the divorce process. But beyond a few exceptions, the divorce process is different for everyone.

Some individuals need a great deal of interpersonal communication during their divorce process. These individuals either need to talk about their experiences or be distracted from them by fun and engaging social situations. Others tend to process their experiences more privately. If your loved one needs your voice or physical presence, you may offer these things. But if your loved one needs space, please avoid taking this personally. This approach likely has nothing to do with you and everything to do with how your loved one is coping.

Your own personality

Once you have a handle on what kinds of support your loved one needs right now, it is important to evaluate what you are capable and willing to give your loved one at this time. You do not need to be this person's sole support or even his or her primary support. Perhaps all you have the emotional energy to do is drop off food, offer to watch his or her kids, host a movie night or take your loved one out to eat once a month. There is nothing wrong with this.

When you can give your loved one support genuinely and without depleting yourself, you will be in the best position possible to actually aid that person. If you overextend yourself or try to fill a need that your personality simply doesn't match, you both may end up hurt or exhausted. Trusting your own needs while tuning into your loved one's needs is generally a beneficial way to approach this period of time. 

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