We have all most probably encountered it at some stage in our lives - who do we stay friends with after a couple divorces or separates?
The text book answer is to stay friends with both parties of course but thatís a mighty tall order to fulfil as we are dealing with human emotions and judgemental attitudes here as well.
Fortunately I think that most normal friends witnessing a couple of family splitting up can actually see both sides of coin and actually do stay away from taking sides.
However, in real world divorcing couple will normally expect you to commit to one side or other and this pattern often establishes itself way before final separation or divorce. This is due to our blame culture where we often ignore our own responsibilities for situation we find ourselves in - itís always someone elseís fault - black & white, when actually there will be many shades of grey that overlap and it is often not until many years later and upon a lot of reflective thought that we suddenly realise that we were actually partly to blame for failure of that relationship.
So, how do friends handle initial expectation from one part of divorcing couple to now ignore their former partner? It can be really tough for friends of separating partners - you know, who do you invite to family party - him or her - can you invite both? - what will happen if they both meet at daughters wedding? - god forbid but what will happen should each one bring a new partner? - The scenarios are endless.
Having experienced several friends now go through divorce and separation proceedings and each one has found its own set of issues, I can say that there is no set advice or guidance in form of a one size fits all answer.
However, there are a few outline framework procedures that I would certainly adopt in order to ensure that your former couple remain friends long after divorce or separation.
Firstly - always try to balance being sympathetic and understanding to your main friend but without actually agreeing to any of their own conclusions regarding blame etc. - remember your only hearing one side of a very unbalanced perspective. This ensures that you do not reinforce your friends biased viewpoint and you can still remain impartial - very important. This may require exemplary diplomatic skills but if your conscious of this fact can actually be quite challenging and rewarding - its like being tested yourself.