You probably never expected that someday you would be scouring the internet looking for divorce support groups. Not only did you believe that your marriage was going to last forever, but joining a divorce support group was just not something you ever thought would be on your radar screen.
But, then everything changed.
Your marriage took a turn for the worse, and now, in spite of your dreams and best intentions, you are facing divorce. And you feel so alone.
You want to talk to your friends. But, you don’t want to burden them with all of the gory details of the pain and problems you are going through. Plus, unless they have been through a divorce themselves, you worry that they won’t understand.
You could talk to your divorce lawyer. But that costs you $400 an hour for the privilege. Plus, your lawyer is busy. He often doesn’t get back to you for days, and when he does, he makes you feel like a complete idiot for calling. Somehow, the crisis that seemed so urgent when you called him initially, now sounds childish and silly.
Talking to your therapist is a much better bet. But it, too, costs money. On top of that, there are only so many times you can call your therapist before you look like you’re really crazy!
What you wish you could find is an open and empathetic divorced friend, someone who has been down the road of divorce and can “teach you the ropes.” You want to talk to someone who understands, someone who can point you in the right direction, and give you a shoulder to lean on, too – preferably without charging you more than you owe on your mortgage.
You need a divorce support group.
Do I Really Need a Divorce Support Group?
If the thought of joining a divorce support group sounds crazy to you, you might want to stop and ask yourself: Why?
Maybe you feel like divorce support groups are only for people who really have problems. But, news flash: getting divorced IS a problem! It is actually a whole lot of problems, all wrapped up in one big, ugly package.
Finding a group of people who can listen to your problems, and help you deal with them, is exactly what you need. That is what divorce support groups do.
Of course, every group is different.
Some, like DivorceCare, are faith based. Others are not. Some, like The Lilac Tree in Evanston, IL, are just for women. Others are just for men. (Although there aren’t a lot of men’s divorce support groups out there. Men will usually have a much better chance of finding a support group if they look for a general men’s group.)
Some groups allow both men and women to join them. (A lot of the local “Meet Up” groups in your area are probably like that.)
Some groups, like DivorceForce and Divorce Separation and Singles Support have an online community. Others, like Divorced Moms on a Mission, and Jason Levoy with Your Divorce Resource Community, have awesome closed Facebook groups (that gives you privacy! Just send them a request if you want to be included in the group.). Still others take the good, old-fashioned, meet in person approach.
But, no matter what kind of divorce support group you find, you might still find yourself wondering:
What Do Divorce Support Groups Do?
Depending upon their mission, divorce support groups can do anything from helping you get through your divorce, to learning how to heal from the pain after your divorce is over. They may provide you with lists of resources, or professional referrals.
Some divorce support groups will help educate you about the ins and outs of divorce. Some of them will sponsor seminars on different divorce topics. Others will bring in speakers to your regular meetings.
Mostly, the people in divorce support groups talk.
They talk about their experiences. They share their knowledge and they share their pain. Most of all, they share their stories.
And they listen.
They support each other when they are down and cheer each other on. They form a community.
The Value of Community
Human beings are social creatures. We need other people. We need community. In primitive societies, being excluded from your tribe, your community, often meant death.
Today, being alone has much less dire consequences. But that still doesn’t mean that, as humans, we don’t long for community – a group where we can “fit in” … especially when times are tough.
Nothing is as comforting when you are going through your own personal “dark night” as knowing that you are not alone. No act is more precious than the simple act of having someone listen to you without judgment or interruption. No advice is more welcome than the advice you get from those who have walked the road you are walking on before.
Of course, in our own heads, we often think to ourselves, “I’m okay. I’ve got this,” even when nothing could be further from the truth. We stoically trudge through tough times sporting a “stiff upper lip,” when inside, we are a wreck.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Divorce support groups can offer a welcoming community where you can be yourself and share your story without judgment. As one of the characters in the movie, Welcome to the Men’s Group, so aptly puts it: “We are an asshole free zone.”
How Do I Find a Divorce Support Group?
No matter how much you might be intrigued by the idea of talking to other people who are going through the same craziness as you are, finding a divorce support group in your area may seem like a gigantic task. Plus, it’s not like you have gobs of free time right now.
Yet, in our super-connected internet world, finding a divorce support group couldn’t be easier today.
Here are some of the most prominent divorce support groups, and lists of divorce support groups, both online and off.
Divorce Support Group Locators
Organized by both state and city, the Psychology Today Divorce Support Group locator is an amazing resource for anyone looking for a support group. It lists hundreds of different divorce support groups specializing in everything from anger and depression to infidelity and co-parenting. You can search by city, zip code or name of the group. As an added plus, you can also search for a therapist, psychiatrist or treatment center from the same page.
This website provides a wealth of resources for divorcing women. Go to their State Divorce Resources Page and click on your state. Then scroll down the menu on that page to see your state’s divorce support group page. You can also navigate to pages with information about your state’s divorce laws, lawyers, mediation, and parenting classes from the same state page.
Meetup Groups are organized around a variety of different topics, interest groups and locations. According to the website’s statistics, there are over 959 different divorce support meetup groups, with over 288,700 members scattered across the world. Some are organized and run by professionals. Others are not. Just go to their divorce support group web age, join Meetup (it’s free!) and browse around until you find a group that interests you.
Faith Based Divorce Support Groups
The largest faith-based divorce support organization by far is DivorceCare. DivorceCare hosts weekly meetings in churches and faith communities all over the world. The meetings start with a 30 – 40 minute informational session, followed by a discussion period. You can search their website directory by city or state to find a group near you. You can also sign up for their free email service to get a daily email from them every day for a year.
Catholic Divorce Support Organizations
Many Catholic churches now have divorce support groups for their divorced parishioners. There is also a Catholic program called Surviving Divorce that is available in some areas. To see if there is a program near you check out the Catholics Divorce website. You can also check out the DivorcedCatholic website. They have programs, workshops and inspiration for divorcing Catholics.
Jewish Divorce Support Organizations
Jewish Child and Family Services offers a number of education and support groups for those going through a divorce, as well as those dealing with other life challenges. Divorcing Jewish women might also want to check out Sister to Sister, a women’s organization within the Jewish community that supports divorced Jewish women and their children.
Other Christian Divorce Support Organizataions
The Christian Divorce Support website offers a variety of services to divorcing Christians. Divorcing Christians might also want to check out Divorcing Christian Ministries which offers divorce support groups and provides people with the tools to start a divorce support group within their own church.
Islamic Divorce Support Organizations
Finding information about Islamic Divorce Support Groups was tough. The only public group I could find was on the Facebook Page, The Divorced Muslimah. You can also check out an interesting article about divorcing muslim women entitled North American Muslim Women, Post Divorce. (It may not be a support group, but at least its something!)
Other Religious Organizations
While religions themselves may not openly support divorce, many churches, synagogues, temples and religious institutions quietly support their members who are going through a divorce. It may seem a bit old-fashioned, and it’s definitely low-tech, but if you want to know if your church has a divorce support group, just contact your church leader and ask! (If you don’t want your church leader to know you’re asking, call his/her office anonymously. Just make sure to block your number before you call!)
Live Divorce Support Groups
You can find live, in-person divorce support groups in your area by either asking around, or checking the Divorce Support Group Locators noted above. Therapists also usually know about good support groups in their areas.
Here is one local support group for women in the Chicago area. Finding divorce support groups for men is a bit harder (Sorry, guys!). But I’m including a link to an amazing guy who runs general support groups for men – and who can help you start your own group if you’re so inclined!
The Lilac Tree
Based in Evanston, Illinois, the Lilac Tree provides support groups and educational programs for women before, during and after divorce. The Lilac Tree’s support groups are therapist-led, structured groups that run for 8 weeks at a time. They are well known in the Chicago area for being a tremendous resource for divorcing women.
The Oasis Experience
Run by Divorce Coach Linda Lucatorto, Creating the Life You Deserve is a 7 week empowerment program for women. The groups are purposely kept small to encourage participants to share their ideas, feelings and experiences. The group focuses on positive change. It is open to all women who are thinking about divorce, going through divorce, or trying to heal after divorce.
Organized and run by a group of dynamic men, the Evryman Programs are run by men, for men. These modern tribes are located all over the world. They help men slow down, be present, and be vulnerable to create change and resiliency – all of which is definitely an asset when you’re going through a divorce!
Online Divorce Support Groups
DivorceForce is a free online forum that provides divorce information, a professional directory and divorce support to its community. It is both an online networking tool, as well as a place you can go to engage in conversations about divorce. It’s goal is to provide a centralized community to empower, educate, and connect those going through divorce.
Reddit is, among other things, a discussion website where registered users submit content on various topics. Reddit divorce is a place where divorcing people can vent, post comments, and respond to others’ comments. Discussions are organized in threads in a newsfeed. Contributors to this discussion are either going through a divorce, have been through a divorce, or are contemplating divorce. To be able to post on Reddit you must register, but registration is free.
This website looks and feels a lot like Reddit Divorce, except that, in addition to the various conversation threads, Divorce.SupportGroups.com also has various sub-groups, organized by topic. So, you can participate in a discussion devoted specifically to the topic you are interested in. Like Reddit, you need to join the website in order to be able to post anything on it. But registration is free.
In addition to providing information on various divorce support groups, WomansDivorce.com also has its own divorce chat and message forum. The Woman’s Divorce chat says that it’s a place to discuss your troubles, compare ex’s, offer suggestions, and share stories. Like most of the other online forums, Womansdivorce.com is free. However, unlike the other forums, registration does not appear to be required to participate in the chat.
First Wives World
The goal of the First Wives World website is to provide inspiration, encouragement and strength to divorcing women. It also provides support for women who are widowed, in troubled relationships, or going through other life challenges. This website provides both articles on divorce and a discussion forum for its members. You must register to be able to post on this site. There are two levels of membership: free and premium. (A premium membership gets you access to support services in every state in the U.S.)
LoveShack.org is a global, peer-to-peer support resource where people can interact, share, and discuss interpersonal relationships with partners, children, parents, co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Conversations are organized by topic and include everything from romantic to business relationships. (It is not divorce-specific.) To participate in a conversation you must register. But, again, registration is free.
Midlife Divorce Recovery
The Midlife Divorce Recovery (MDR) website provides an online community for divorcing women in mid-life. MDR also provides blog articles and information about divorce. The goal of the MDR community is to provide a safe and secure online divorce support group. It is open to women who are thinking about divorce, going through a divorce, or even trying to recover from divorce years after the fact. Unlike some of the other forums, MDR has a monthly membership charge.
Facebook Divorce Support Groups
There are a TON of divorce support groups, large and small on Facebook. Here are some of the best and most popular ones I’ve found.
Divorce, Separation and Singles Support
Divorce, Separation and Singles Support is a public Facebook Page touting close to 400,000 members. This group was started by a woman named Heather in 2012 to help her while she was going through her own divorce. The page has continued to grow ever since and is currently one of the most active public Facebook Pages on divorce that you can find. It is full of funny memes, inspirational quotes, and real life advice.
Divorcedmoms.com is the Facebook page for the DivorcedMoms.com website. The website hosts a fabulous blog full of articles on divorce. The Facebook page showcases blog articles and provides a forum for discussion.
DivorcedMoms on a Mission
DivorcedMoms on a Mission is a private Facebook Group run by DivorcedMoms.com. Since this is run as a private group instead of a page, you must get permission to join before you can see all the content or contribute to the conversation. Unlike the DivorcedMoms.com page, it has more memes, inspiration and conversation and less article links.
Your Divorce Resource Community
Run by New Jersey divorce attorney Jason Levoy, Your Divorce Resource Community is a private Facebook group where people going through divorce can support each other and engage in meaningful conversation. You have to get permission to join the group, but joining is free
Should I Join a Divorce Support Group?
Joining a divorce support group may be a completely new idea for you. You may be the kind of person who has always managed to get through life without needing much help (especially if you’re a man!).
But going through a divorce is different.
It’s a world-rocking experience. It changes everything.
Today you can join a divorce support group and be virtually anonymous. You can join an online community that will be there for you no matter where you live. Or, you can venture out into a more traditional, in-person group and have the experience of actually talking face to face to a live human being who understands you and what you are going through.
Can you get through your divorce without ever even thinking about joining a divorce support group? Of course you can. If you have a strong support network around you, maybe you don’t need anything more.
… or maybe you do.
Either way, it’s for you to decide.
There’s just one thing I know for sure. No one should go through divorce alone.
If you want to check out a Great Facebook Page about divorce, without having to join a group, or pay money, take a look at my Facebook Page. I post something inspirational there every day!
PS If you could “like” the page while you’re there, I would truly appreciate it!