Know someone who is separating? Here’s how to provide support that will help
Know someone who is separating? Here’s how to provide support that will help.
Every year there are more than 50,000 divorces in Australia and roughly the same number again of de-facto separations, so at some point most of us will be called upon to help someone through this difficult period in their lives.
Friends and family can play an incredibly important support role for separating couples. They can also unintentionally make things more difficult by ‘taking sides’ or offering advice that fuels conflict.
amica is an online separation tool created for couples who want to separate amicably. The amica website (www.amica.gov.au) is also a fantastic resource with all the information that couples need to navigate the separation process calmly and fairly.
amica’s director Gabrielle Canny has these tips for anyone who wants to help a friend or family member through a separation as simply and calmly as possible:
Separating can be a hugely emotional time, and most people just need someone to listen to how they are feeling and what they are going through and show that they are loved and cared for. Try to encourage them to share their feelings and listen without judgement or trying to solve the problem for them.
Avoid criticism and don’t trash talk the ex
This can often be the first impulse as we want to defend those we care about and make them feel better. Remind them that separation is a process which will have ups and downs, but they are moving towards a future that might suit them better. Now that the decision has been made to ‘move on’ the focus should be on how to create a future that works for everyone involved, including their former partner and any children.
Be there to provide ‘everyday’ help and support
The first few months of a separation can be the toughest and it can often be simple, day to day things that cause stress. Offering to help with ‘partner duties’ like the groceries or picking up the kids from school can make a big difference. Showing up with a meal, inviting them out do something fun or offering taking the kids off their hands for a few hours can also help. Helping with packing up items and moving out, or even letting them know that they can stay at your place should they need to, can also provide a strong sense of reassurance and support.
Encourage them to do some research
Being well informed about the separation process including their options, rights and ‘what most other people do’ can help all of us make better decisions, in a calmer and more considered way. amica is a one-stop-shop for couples who are separating and has all the information needed to begin the separation process, as well as a carefully considered and ‘user-friendly’ process for agreeing on property, finance and parenting decisions and creating written agreements.
Be there for the long term
While the few months of a separation can be hard, this is also the time when people are more likely to have help and support. The reality of the separation may also not fully sink in until later, when new arrangements have been bedded down. Continue to check in, keep showing up, and make sure they know you are there for them. This ongoing support is critical and can help ensure they are able to fully ‘move on’.