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Ask Athena: Our Best Friends Are Getting Divorced


Published October 4, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated October 8, 2017 at 5:28 p.m.

Dear Athena,

My wife and I have been friends with this other couple since before we all got married more than 10 years ago. Now they are splitting up. I am sad for them and want to be there for both of them, but I am angry about some of the things the wife did (since the husband and I have been friends since we were kids). I love them both and I want to be a good friend, but how? Is it possible for all of us to stay friends?


Breaking Up Is Hard on All of Us

Dear Breaking Up,

Your friends are lucky to have you. The love and kindness in your letter will help you along this somber journey with your pals. It's really sad to watch a relationship dissolve, and it's hard to be objective and sensitive to both parties. Here are a few tips to get you through this season of change.

First, it's impossible to be completely impartial — but do your judging on your own time. When you and your wife are alone, you can have all the unedited debriefs you want. But when you're with one of them, stay mum. They don't need you chiming in; what they need is a friendly ear. Make separate and equal time to listen attentively to both versions of the story. This might feel frustrating at times, but let compassion guide you. Be the kind of friend you'd want to have if you were in their shoes.

Second, beware of backlash. At some point or another, one of them may feel like you're taking a side. Just remind them of your commitment to your friendship. Reassure them that you're there to support them and are being as fair as you can. And offer them space if they need it. Giving relationships a little breathing room can ultimately bring you closer. Hopefully, in time, you can all get together in a civilized and mature way. But that's a lot to ask for right now.

Finally, don't be afraid to set boundaries. Be mindful of how much time and energy you're putting toward their situation, and balance it with something that's just for you. You can take care of yourself and still be there for your friends.

Good luck,