Hey there, if you're reading this, chances are you or someone you know is going through a divorce. First off, let me say that I understand how incredibly tough this journey can be. I've seen countless individuals over the age of 35 struggle with the emotional toll of divorce. But here's the good news: you don't have to go through it alone.
Divorce can turn your world upside down. I've been through it myself, and I know firsthand how it can leave you feeling lost, hurt, and overwhelmed. The emotional rollercoaster of anger, sadness, and confusion can be paralyzing.
This is where divorce support groups come in. They are like lifelines in the stormy sea of divorce recovery. These groups offer a safe space for men and women to share their experiences, receive emotional support, and learn valuable coping strategies.
Divorce support groups are gatherings of individuals who have one common goal: to heal from the wounds of divorce. These groups can be in-person or online, and they provide a platform for sharing feelings, experiences, and advice.
I remember joining my first divorce support group. It was in a small community center, and the sense of relief I felt when I realized I wasn't alone in my struggles was incredible.
Not all support groups are the same. The biggest factor in the quality of the group is whether the facilitator has mental health training or is a volunteer. Generally the ones run by volunteers at the local church are great for meeting others going through divorce but if you want to heal these are not the place to do it.
I also have found that there is a big difference between a Divorce Support Group and a Divorce Recovery Group. A support group near you might provide local connections such as good lawyers, therapists, financial advisors or realtors. Recovery groups are groups that have a curriculum and structure to the meetings and are focused on your emotional and mental transformation. Generally they start every few months and run for 8 to 10 weeks.
Also, there are a fair amount of Women’s Divorce Support Groups but generally men don’t call them “Support Groups”. It is more likely to find “Men’s Groups”. I think there is a place for both. Personally though I found that it was really helpful to be in a mixed group. I met a woman in the group that behaved similarly to my Ex-wife and I was able to talk to her about why she did what she did. It helped me see a different angle that I wasn’t able to with my Ex. Nevertheless, I think some people need a particular group such as women that were abused, LGBTQ+, or highly traumatic marriages.
Joining a divorce support group is not a sign of weakness; it's a smart move towards healing and recovery.
One of the most significant benefits of these groups is the emotional support they provide. You can share your story without judgment, which can be incredibly cathartic.
I'll never forget the feeling of validation when someone in my group shared a similar experience. Knowing that others had walked the same path made me feel less isolated.
Over time, these groups can become like a second family. The connections you make can extend beyond the meetings, offering a network of people who truly understand what you're going through.
Before diving into a group, take some time to assess your needs. What are your primary concerns? Are you looking for emotional support, a new community, or both?
Finding a divorce support group near you is easier than you might think. You can start with online resources and directories or ask for recommendations from professionals like therapists or lawyers who specialize in divorce. To make it easier I’ve created a list below that can give you a head start.
Not all support groups are the same, and group dynamics vary. It's crucial to find a group that fits your personality and comfort level. If you prefer a smaller, more intimate setting, look for that. If you want a larger group with diverse experiences, you can find that too.
People going through divorce rarely have lots of money to spare. Many have something after the finances have been settled out but when you need the support the most is when budgets are tight. Most support groups are very low cost, if not free. Nevertheless, you get what you pay for.
Also, keep in mind that joining a group that is run by a certified professional means that you are getting access to a highly qualified professional at a fraction of the cost. If you are struggling emotionally but can’t afford therapy, start with a support group. If you find that you like the group but need more then you can move up to a Divorce Recovery Group.
If you can't find a local group or prefer online interactions, don't worry; there are some really good virtual divorce support groups available. These provide flexibility, efficient use of your time, and can be just as effective in offering emotional support. Plus you can often see recordings from the group if the time doesn’t work for you.
Emotional healing is at the core of divorce recovery. By sharing your story and listening to others, you can start rebuilding your self-esteem and confidence.
I remember the first time I shared my story in a group. It was scary, but it also felt liberating. The weight of my pain seemed a bit lighter after I had shared it with people who truly understood.
Learning from others' experiences and hearing about their coping mechanisms can be a game-changer. You can pick up practical strategies for managing stress and moving forward.
In my group, I learned about boundaries, understanding trust, communication skills, plus mindfulness and meditation as tools to deal with stress. The information and techniques not only helped me during the divorce but continue to serve me well in life.
Divorce involves more than just emotions. It has legal and financial implications. Many support groups bring in professionals to offer legal advice and financial planning tips.
If you have children, co-parenting can be a tricky road to navigate. Support groups often offer valuable advice on effective communication with your ex and coordinating parenting schedules.
Joining a support group is a great first step, but making the most of it requires active participation and realistic expectations.
To benefit fully, share your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly. Don't be afraid to listen and offer support to others. It's a two-way street.
Remember, a support group is designed to provide community and support. It is not where you should expect to get the tools you need to heal.
I talk to a lot of people that do our Recovery program after doing a popular 13-week program that is in many churches. They didn’t get the healing they hoped for. They are still struggling, looking to recover. The content is focused on encouraging them to join the church rather than healing.
Most support groups offer educational materials or suggestions for good materials. Take advantage of these resources. They can provide valuable insights and tools for healing.
While support groups help address loneliness and shame there are situations when you need individual work. Ideally the person running the group is qualified to do individual work as well. Then you get the group and individual experience that combine for the healing result you are looking for.
My biggest recommendation is to look for a professional that has been divorced themselves AND focuses on divorce recovery. Many therapists are trained to keep couples together. Those skills don’t transfer to actually dealing with the heartbreak.
To give you a taste of what's possible, here are some personal accounts of individuals who found healing through support groups:
"When I joined my divorce support group, I was so lonely. Having a group of people to talk to that understood how hard divorce is was my lifeline. "
"I was lost. Completely lost. I heard other people’s stories and it gave me perspective. I also was able to see that though my situation was hard it could have been worse, much worse. It gave me incentive to do everything I could to keep the split as friendly as possible."
You can actually listen to people describing their transformation here.
In the midst of the chaos that divorce can bring, support groups offer a lifeline to healing. Whether you're seeking emotional support, practical advice, or just a safe place to share your feelings, there's a support group out there for you.
Remember, you don't have to go through this alone. By taking that first step and seeking out a divorce support group near you, you're already on the path to healing and recovery.
Rebuilders offers both local and online support groups AND Recovery groups. The facilitators are all highly trained and able to handle a wide variety of issues. Many of the support groups are free. Participants can often join local activities as well as do the deep recovery work needed to really let go of the intense feelings so that they can move on.
Circles groups are led by mental health professionals. The $79 monthly fee is not covered by insurance, but financial assistance is available. In my experience the facilitators are not specifically focused on divorce. They fill their groups as much as possible and even though I asked for a divorce support group there were people that were not actually going through divorce.
This program is offered in many churches. Often it costs $25 to $50 to join. The program is 13 weeks long and is led by a volunteer. There is no training required to be a facilitator for a program. The format is supposed to be that participants watch videos by “experts” on the topic of the week. The problem with this format is that there is no cohesive information. Each week a new topic is discussed but it doesn’t relate to the previous week, nor does it build on earlier information. Also, every week participants are reminded that they shouldn’t be divorcing in the eyes of God and that they should join the church to find true healing. The quality of the program varies from church to church.I like that they are in a lot of locations. Having a community of people going through divorce can be very helpful.
MeetUp.com is a fantastic website for finding activities near you. You can find activities that interest you and get you out of the house. You can also find divorce support groups here. Some of these groups have online meetings as well as local activities. Plus they bring in experts that can help explain the legal and financial process in your area. Similarly to DivorceCare the group quality really depends on the leader. If you don’t like one look for another as there are a lot of groups on MeetUp!
No matter what you do, do something. Divorce is fundamentally so isolating and often leaves people feeling very alone and ashamed. By reaching out to others you will get support and humanity you deserve.
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