You met them through your husband, and have been hanging out for years. But now that you're getting a divorce from him do you have to ditch them as well? Or is there a way to "share custody" of friends post-break-up?
We asked certified Divorce Coach and Mediator Susan Pease Gadoua, author of Contemplating Divorce and Stronger Day by Day about the rules for keeping friends once the marriage falls apart.
"In many cases, who 'gets' which friends is obvious, for example, the women stay friends with the wife and the men with the husband, or those who knew the spouse as a single person tend to remain in his or her life," she says. "Unfortunately for the splitting couple, couples who are still intact may choose not to be friends with either due to a sense of awkwardness, tension or not wanting to appear to take sides."
But don't lose hope, she says. In this case, where there's a will, there's probably a way. It may be tricky to remain in touch with your ex's friends, but it can be done--if there are clear ground rules. "Promising not to talk about the ex and not to share with the ex about time spent or conversations had with the friend," she says. "The more it can be kept separate (which is different than secret), the better. Secrecy has a toxic feel to it. It is a betrayal of sorts whereas if the ex knows you are maintaining a friendship and simply has a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, it tends to be cleaner for everyone involved."
As with everything, communication is key. Be clear with your ex who it is you wish to remain friends with. "Generally, if you are calm about it, your ex is more likely to be calm," says Gadoua. "If you are scared or apologetic, your ex is more likely to get angry about your wanting to stay in contact with one of his friends."
And remember, this isn't a conversation that has to take place on day one. Split up the bookcase, before moving on to the friends. "It's often best to wait until both of you are more comfortable with the other issues involved in the breakup such as who gets the house, the kids, who gets what money, etc.," says Gadoua.
And what if the shoe is on the other foot and it's your friend that your ex stays in touch with?
"I think the less you know, often the better," says Gouda. "As tempting as it might be to ask the friend, 'What did he say about...,' you're going to be much better off not going there. Time and distance heal the wounds of divorce and this applies to the area of friends as well."
Have you had to deal with splitting up friends or have any of your friends divorced and you've been caught in the middle? How did you deal?