There are many ways to be a good friend and just as many ways to be a bad friend. When a friend’s marriage is in turmoil it may be your instinct to stand back. After all, bad marriages are like the plague. And you definitely don’t want to catch it, so it’s best to just stay back right? Girl, you are so wrong. So so so wrong.
If your friend is going through a hard time she needs you. Like NEEDS you. Right now her world is upside down. She is probably not eating even though she is feeding her kids. Your friend is probably not sleeping after getting the kids to bed. She probably isn’t a barrel of laughs or really any fun to be around but she needs you. She is lost and she needs to be reminded how to get out of the turmoil; that someone misses her smile and her laugh. That it’s okay if those are lost right now, but you, as her friend, will help her find them again. Even if that means sitting in the dark place while she wails, cries, and contemplates illegal activities.
Marriage is hard!
If your friend is having a rough patch in their marriage, and I don’t mean those day-to-day annoyances; I mean a real issue, the worst thing you can do is abandon her. She is probably already thinking the issues are all her fault. And when you take away that friendship she so desperately needs, you are solidifying that fear in her. If the marriage survives, she won’t be the same person. She won’t make friends the same way or at all. She will forever think that she isn’t good enough. Because all the people that supported her all left when she needed them the most.
What NOT to do!
So, what is a friend to do? Or what should you NOT do? You should not offer unsolicited advice along the lines of “you should leave him” “if that was me I’d be gone” This isn’t about you. At all. This is about being there for someone in need. And you cannot honestly say what you would do unless you have been in the situation. You shouldn’t place the blame on her alone. She may be fighting, alone, to save her marriage.
What to do
What should you do? Listen to her as she cries and tries to figure out her life. Make her (or bring her) food. I promise she isn’t eating. Watch her kids for her so she can nap, cry, go to therapy. Make her go for a walk or get out of the house. Give her a hug and tell her you’re there for her no matter what. Don’t stop listening to her. Don’t stop being her friend. Try to be empathetic. Some women don’t want to ask for help and will sit alone as they fight demons in their minds-don’t let your friend do this. Don’t ask her how you can help-just show up. She can’t say no if you are already there.
When your friend’s marriage takes a hit she isn’t going to be a good friend for a while. But, once she digs out of this black hole that swallowed her, she will not forget who stood by her and who left her.