When you are in the emotional agony of a divorce, it is normal to ask yourself, “Are Divorce Support Groups Helpful?”. The short answer is that the research overwhelmingly shows that support groups of any kind are helpful, including online support groups (Chung, 2013). But, joining a support group isn’t enough, you must first think what is it that you want out of a support group, before finding the right group and then committing to that group.
Divorce Support Groups and Friendships
Most people join a group, to meet other people and have some peer support. This is particularly important when divorcing because many people lose their social networks. Some friends take sides, other worry that if they socialise with either of you, it will look like taking sides. Sometimes friends stop socialising with you simply because couples like to socialise in couples. Other so-called friends might feel too uncomfortable being around grief and sadness.
While some friendships are lost, there is also evidence that many new friends can be made. Therefore not only are you losing your spouse during a divorce, your entire social network and friendships might undergo an overhaul, as you stop seeing in-laws, friends of your ex, friends you made as a couple, and instead have to make a new group of friends. It is very likely that you will not have had to make new friends since you were a teenager and so this might be daunting.
At Divorce Club, we try to support friendship by in-person and on-line events. For some who have not socialised in decades, it can be a safe place to learn to fly solo again. We had many a terrified person join our groups, such as Lynette, and simply being able to talk to new people about her divorce, and herself generally made her believe in herself, “I really can talk, and even laugh, without my husband with me”.
Many of our members find friendship. Of course your friendships will have varying levels. There will be people with whom you hit it off and find yourself going on holiday with. There will be others with whom you only have your divorce in common, but this might still be valuable and appreciated during your transition. There will also be people you might make life-long friends from. We recently had a Divorce Club picnic and it was so nice having old members come back and share how they are doing. And so many of the members felt comforted seeing the “old member”, settled in new homes, in new relationships and with great parental relationships.
Divorce Support Groups, Debriefing and comparing notes
For anyone divorcing, you will want to talk about your divorce. Talking is a way of processing life events and can be most helpful coming from people who have actually gone through, or going through a divorce.
People will help normalise your intense emotions and empathise with you. I recall finding it helpful being told that non-stop crying was pretty normal. It is also helpful , and many people just want to vent about divorce proceedings to people who will have understanding and compassion for you, and who won’t judge them.
There is also lots of information and tip sharing. People share information on lawyers, divorce films, where to go for dancing lessons, organisations that do single holidays, how to co-parent and how to prepare for mediation. At Divorce Club, we have people at all stages of divorce, as well as divorce experts, and so there is always someone who can offer some good advice.
How to get the most out of a support group
You can join a gym but you won’t get fit without exercising. The same is true for joining a support group such as Divorce Club. If you want to make friends, then you must come to events, and during (and after), exchange numbers with people you liked best. It can feel vulnerable asking people to meet up but if you wait to be asked, you are not taking control, which is so important in divorce and life in general.
In Divorce Club, we also have designed a road map to rebuilding and recovery. This covers topics such as lawyers, mediations and money, as well as emotional topics such as forgiveness, parenting, learning from past relationships, and how to date. Rather than trying to go into things blindly or find all this information out yourself, we cut down the work by bringing you experts who can help you. This gives you more time to go into the world and put into practice what you know will be healing and helpful.
You are not alone and you are in control
When you are divorcing, you will lose your friends, your home, your pension, your children, your possessions and the list goes on. This can leave you thinking that your life is falling apart, and that no-one is there for you. At Divorce Club, there is always someone who cares. Whether you ask for support on our chat channel, at our talk, or in a Meetup, there is always someone who will respond to you. This can be for any issues, emotional or practice. We will try and support you. Knowing that, you have support is reassuring, and will help you feel safer, and more in control as you rebuild your life.
Don’t go through divorce alone!
About Divorce Club:
Divorce can be challenging, but it is also a real opportunity for personal growth and change. Both Lucy and Isabelle co-founded Divorce Club back in 2016 for one simple reason – we know that no one should go through divorce alone! It’s now the largest Divorce Club in the UK.