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Maintaining and reconfiguring your support system in divorce

Often when people go through a divorce, they become estranged from others in their lives. This can be especially true for people whose social relationships were intertwined with their spouse's.

Couples you've been close to may feel they have to "choose" one of you over the other. If you both were involved in community groups, charities, country clubs or your church, it may be awkward for both of you to continue there. That can mean losing more people in your social circle.

Even if you were particularly close to your in-laws, your relationships with them may become strained or disappear completely. They may side with your spouse or perhaps feel they're being disloyal to them if they continue a relationship with you -- particularly if you don't have kids.

In some cases, you're better off without some of these friends and even family members in your life if they aren't (and maybe never were) supportive. As you develop new interests and activities, you'll meet new people to add to your "tribe."

If you want to continue to have some of these people in your life, you may need to reach out and let them know that. Let them know that they don't have to choose between you and your spouse to remain friends (or at least friendly) with you.

If you have adult children, those relationships can become frayed also. You can help keep your grown kids in your life by understanding the impact of the divorce on them. It's also essential not to criticize your co-parent in front of them, just as you wouldn't if they were younger.

Parents shouldn't expect their adult children to be a shoulder to cry on. Even if you're particularly close with one or more of your kids, this isn't the time to treat them like your best friend. They aren't. Find others to vent to about issues in your divorce and your ex -- even if it's a good therapist or support group.

Divorce often entails a complete change in your social circle and in many relationships in your life. It can be difficult to navigate those things while you're going through the divorce and your emotions are likely raw. However, you can eventually emerge with a stronger support system than you've ever had and with people who know you only as yourself and not as part of a couple.

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