If someone told you about problems in their relationship, would you know how to help?
The odds are good that you’ll be asked for advice. In fact, 63 percent of people in a large, recent survey said they had confided in friends or family about relationship problems in the past year.
Giving relationship advice is a big responsibility. Your words can either build up relationship, or tear it down.
When you’re hearing one side of the story, it’s only human to take sides. But taking sides can do real damage. Researchers have found, for example, that when women complain about their spouse to female friends, the chances of divorce go up.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts so you can be a good friend without making things worse.
- Do be a good confidante. Listen to your friend’s feelings. You can sympathize about how hard things are right now.
- Don’t agree or disagree with your friend’s opinions or point of view. Your feelings might change if you heard the other side of the story.
- Do remind your friend that you’re not sure what he or she should do. You’re worried that giving advice could throw the relationship off track. It’s too much responsibility.
- Don’t be judgmental. Relationships feel different when you’re in them than when you’re outside looking in.
- Don’t suggest individual counseling. The individual therapist can steer a relationship toward divorce because, even though they’re a professional, they are hearing only one person’s perspective.
The very best thing you can do to help a friend with their relationship is to suggest couples counseling. A trained marriage or couples counselor will listen to both partners without taking sides, help partners stop blaming each other, and give them a deeper understanding their problems.
Whether it’s you who’s having relationship problems, or it’s your friend, feel free to contact us to learn about our services and see if counseling could be of help.