Divorce is hard on everyone. But for some, moving on and learning how to live without their former life partner can be painful and difficult. When you can’t just pick up the pieces and push forward, divorce support groups can help.
What Is a Divorce Support Group?
Divorce support groups are just like any other support group – they allow members to express their feelings and experiences in a neutral, non-judgmental environment. Members meet on a regular basis to work through the difficulties and obstacles people commonly face after divorce.
The primary advantage of joining a support group is that other members have either gone through or are currently going through the same things you are. Knowing that someone else has “been there and done that” makes the process a little easier. Suddenly, divorce doesn’t feel so lonely.
Virtual vs. Physical Support Groups
There are numerous types of support groups: some faith-based, some gender-based and some welcoming of everyone. Some groups meet in a physical location, while others meet virtually. Virtual support groups can be a tremendous help to those who have busy schedules or are always on the road.
There are many advantages to joining virtual groups; I should know – I joined quite a few after my divorce in September. My busy schedule and location makes it nearly impossible to join a physical group. By meeting virtually, I can:
- Still discuss my experiences in a non-judgmental environment.
- Contribute to the discussion at times that are most convenient for me, or when things are particularly difficult.
- Share my experiences with a broader range of people, as virtual groups have no geographical boundaries.
- Meet new people and possibly develop a friendship or relationship. Facebook is particularly conducive to this.
Like physical groups, virtual groups can be faith-based, like DFS and FDS. While groups will verify that you are divorced (with the notable exception of FDS) to protect their integrity, they do not inquire about your personal religious beliefs.
Others, like the DPU (Divorced Parents Unleashed), are general divorce support groups that welcome members from all over the world.
While I’m grateful for the convenience of the groups I’ve joined, I know I’m missing out on some significant benefits that only physical support groups can offer, such as:
- In-person support. Meeting with others in person offers a level of support that text on a screen or video chat meetings can’t compare to.
- A sense of community. Virtual groups can offer this as well, but with “real” support groups, the sense of community tends to be stronger.
- If you fail to attend a physical meeting, others will notice and ask you about your absence. Having a sense of accountability will help you stay on track and attend meetings regularly.
- While virtual groups can offer this as well, physical support groups more easily allow you to meet and make friends with others who live nearby.
- With the notable exception of FDS, faith based groups attempt to verify that members are real people and not currently married.
Should You Join a Support Group?
Divorce support groups are not for everyone. If you are uncomfortable sharing your experiences with complete strangers, groups may not be the best option for you. But most people find that support groups make the transition into single life easier and the healing process quicker.
In my personal experience, I have an opportunity to connect with others who are facing the same challenges as me. Support groups have provided me with another layer of guidance and assistance that friends and family cannot offer. Having a non-biased, non-judgmental group to openly discuss these issues with can help you move on without feeling alone, stressed and unsure of what to do next.
Aside from finding others who are having similar experiences, support groups will provide you with honest, real feedback. At times, that feedback can be painful to hear, but is essential to making necessary life changes and helping you avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Even if you have a solid support system at home, support groups will help you see your former marriage in a new light. Gaining a new perspective will help you grow and change, so you can work towards creating stronger future relationships.