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Does the divorce of a friend affect our own relationship?

DivorceArticle by Ceri Wheeldon

Do our friendships affect our relationships?

We have some lively discussions on the FabafterFifty facebook page and one in particular subject really struck a chord when I read it. Gabriela Lerner ( the raw food chef who also happens to be a contributor to the site) posted the following:

“Last week I had an interesting experience. I’m generally a positive, happy person, but I spoke with a friend who’s going through a severe relationship issue. The friend was deeply hurt and I listened to her story for almost an hour. I felt very sorry for her and for the relationship and I could really put myself in her position and feel her hurt.

Does your friend’s hurt overlay your own relationship?

That night, I picked an argument with my husband over something banal. It could have easily turned into a full blown fight if not both of us had made the decision to not carry on with the argument but to get a good night’s sleep instead. As I lay in bed I reflected on the day and realised that I had internalised my friend’s hurt and had overlaid it onto my own relationship. Not a good thing. Because actually, I love my husband. I’ve loved him for over 20 years and I still love him just the way he is. Including the bits that irritate me at times.

The next morning I had regained my positive energy and had reconnected with my love for him and all I appreciate about him. Try it, it’s very healing and it really makes a lot of ‘irritating behaviours’ completely irrelevant. I’m not saying, ignore rudeness or cruelty in a relationship, as that is not healthy. But just consider what you loved about your partner/husband/other half when you first met them and ask yourself whether you still love that about them. Appreciate them for who they are and hold a value of them being free to be who they are. Oh.. I can see this could turn into a whole blog… I better shut up LOL. Have a great day, be grateful for what you have, have fun, be free! ”

Being drawn in to the negative view of men

Gabriela’s experience certainly resonated with me! I spent a lot of time recently working on a project with someone whose long term relationship had just ended. She was extremely negative about men  (and life in general).  Every meeting or conversation that took place somehow managed to touch on how dreadful men happened to be- to the point where I was starting to wonder if being single was really the best way to live as I looked for signs in my own husbands behaviour which bore out the events of my colleague’s experience. Fortunately I was able to distance myself from this colleague’s views on men and life, and continue happily in my own relationship. It would have been incredibly easy, however,  to get drawn in to that same way of thinking.

There is a fine line between being sympathetic and supportive, while not being pulled too far into the hurt and disappointment to the point where it impacts your own life.

I have often seen group of friends instigate breakups or divorces at similar times. Who else has experienced similar?


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Carol Cassara

    February 17, 2014

    Yes, I think it’s normal to find ways someone else’s situation might parallel our own, for good and for bad. It’s sometimes hard to be mindful every moment, but like you did, we can always catch ourselves just after and regain our equilibrium.

  2. Ceri Wheeldon

    February 17, 2014

    Thank you for commenting Carol, as you say, it’s important to ‘catch’ ourselves 🙂

  3. Judith Brady

    February 22, 2014

    I experienced this when my brother’s marriage broke up and he happened to be married to my best friend, so it was particularly upsetting and did lead me to question my own marriage at the time. It is so easy to start sucked into the negativity rather than thinking how lucky you are. That was over 10 years ago and fortunately I got through it and we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next year!

  4. Catherine

    March 5, 2014

    Thanks for your insightful article. I agree it can be very difficult not to subliminally hold onto thoughts through someone else’s negative experiences in a relationship. The skill is in balancing between being empathetic while not translating into actions in your own relationship later on. Sometimes it may even require asking the person to not relay all of the negativity back to you, but it will depend on your relationship with that person.

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