couples

"The day I had to decide which side of the divorce I was on."

When our best friends got divorced, it was horrible.

I’ll never forget the day that she called me.

My husband’s best friend’s wife, Megan, called me which was unusual, because my husband and his best friend Tim normally organised everything. They’ve been friends since high school and while Megan and I would chat in the lead up to our regular dinners and movie nights and days at the park, the husbands were the ones who got it all happening.

She sounded terrible. At first I thought something had happened to Tim. He was dead or he’d had an accident and Megan was telling me first so I could break it to Ben.

“What’s wrong Megan?”

“Tim left me. He’s been having an affair. He left two weeks ago.”

Silence…

I just didn’t know what to say. I had nothing. Nothing.

But I was devastated.

I felt terrible for her but all I could think about was my kids. They were best friends with Megan’s and Tim’s kids. We did everything together, not exaggerating. How would this affect them? How would this affect us?

Tim was having an affair? What? How?

I said some things, none of which I think she really registered.

"How do you explain it to your children, who have to watch their friends deal with their parents breakup?"

"Can you get Ben to call him," she begged. "I'm really worried about him."

You're worried about him? After what he's done?

I rang Ben.

He was absolutely gobsmacked, called Tim and got the whole story. Details aside, Megan and Tim were at the beginning of an incredibly devastating breakup that was not at all amicable and Ben and I were caught in the middle.

Tim was calling Ben and Megan was calling me. The kids just wanted to see their friends.

Megan questioned me endlessly about Tim, about what he'd told Ben, asking what the other woman was like because we'd met her by then and boy was that awkward. But Tim and Ben were friends first. Megan and I only became friends through them.

But the kids. What about the kids, their friendships?

A few months into the breakup, it became unbearable for me. I didn't want to talk to Megan because she was so distressed and distraught. It was impossible to get the kids together without her begging for information about Tim and my children were affected, as were her own.

When it became apparent they wouldn't reunite, ever, I allowed my friendship with Megan to drift.

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She rang and asked why I hadn't been in contact. She'd been clinging to me since the split. We'd never been that close before but I think she felt connected to Tim through me and Ben and I had to explain to her that I felt caught in the middle and that for the sake of Tim's and Ben's friendship, I'd have to step back from my friendship with her. It was hard, but it had to be done.

When your best friends get divorced, tough decisions need to be made. Who were you friends with first? Who are you closest to? Is the split amicable? Is it possible to maintain friendships with both parties?

How do you explain it to your children, who have to watch their friends deal with their parents breakup? Do you tell them everything, just parts of it?

It's incredibly difficult but now that I've been through it, here is my advice:

1. If the breakup is amicable, it can be possible to be friend with both, as long as neither ask you about the other.

2. If the breakup is acrimonious, make a decision. Take a side. You have no choice.

3. Tell your children what is happening and encourage them to support their friends and to never bring up the breakup. Only talk about it if they bring it up and then, just listen.

4. Adjust to your new life. It's going to hurt, it's going to suck. Connect with new friends. One of those new friends might be their new partners. It's only awkward for a while.

5. And this is the biggie. Their breakup is no reflection on the state of your relationship. My husband and I really struggled with this. Megan and Tim and Ben and I were like four peas in a pod. We got married around the same time, had kids at the same time, shared our triumphs and failures. They never fought more than we did, never seemed to have more problems than we did.

So if they were breaking up, what did that mean for us?

We talked it through, talked and talked and talked and concluded that their breakup made us more determined to strengthen our relationship because their breakup was terrible, just terrible. We'd do whatever we could to keep our relationship strong for our sake and for our children.

Have you ever had to support a couple you are close to through a break up? 

As per the author's request, both her and the names of her husband and friends have been changed.

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