Dear Annie: A longtime friend of mine, “Emily,” was served divorce papers right after the holidays by her husband, “Matt,” after a fairly short and seemingly rocky marriage. I don’t think this came as much of a surprise to her, but I know that she is still taking it very hard, especially considering the time of year this all fell apart. She seems embarrassed by the situation and stressed about having to find a lawyer and go to court.
I’m trying my best to provide emotional support and help her out, but I also feel lost when it comes to divorce options and the whole process. I really want her to find peace and reach out to a counselor or mediator or other professional, but I don’t necessarily know how to push her in that direction. How can I comfort Emily through this and help her avoid a stressful court battle? -- Shoulder To Cry On
Dear Shoulder To Cry On: Healing comes in many forms. Unfortunately for all of us, the most effective “treatment” is time. It will get better, but not immediately. Remind her of that. As long as she maintains her faith in the future, she will be able to get through “the now.”
At the end of the day, you cannot weather this storm for her, though it is admirable that you want to try. It is hard to feel powerless when our loved ones are going through times of hardness. The best you can do is be there -physically, emotionally, spiritually. Help her in the capacity that you are able to. Cook her dinner one night. Take her out for a movie. Call her more frequently. Eventually, with the support of friends, with the help of a lawyer and with the passage of time -- she will heal.
Dear Annie: I need your advice. I have a grown son who is 33 years old. He has been in and out of prison since he was 18. He has drug, domestic violence and weapon charges. Each time he was released, I welcomed him back into my home. He would work, but not for very long, and then he would continue back down the old path again.
The last time he came home, he started bringing a girl into my house, and they were drinking and getting high. I told him several times that I do not want anyone coming in and out of my house besides him. He agreed but continued bringing her in. One morning, when I woke up, she was here. I woke him up and told him she needed to leave. He became physically and verbally violent with me. My neighbors heard me screaming, and they called the police. I pressed charges against him, and he is now back in prison for the attack on me. He has made it clear that he hates me, but I had to draw a line in the sand. Was I wrong for pressing charges, and should I reach out to him? -Heartbroken
Dear Heartbroken: Were you wrong for pressing charges? Of course not. A man attacked you in your home. It is heartbreaking that that man is your son, but your safety needs to be your first priority.
As for whether you should reach out to him, follow your intuition. But if you do talk to him, don’t expect him to change or to receive your outreach with any warm feelings. If you don’t want to reach out, well, nobody can fault you for that either. If and when he decides to apologize and change his ways, you can reassess.
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology -featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing. com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.