It’s very hard for most people to ask for help at any time. When a couple separates or divorces it’s natural that both people will need help. Let’s look at the common place ways that newly single adults need help and then look at best practices for asking for the help we need.
Care is often expressed by offering help. Here is a list of the types of help most people need, separated into categories of the type of help you may need.
When going through personal upheaval and loss, emotional support will look different for everyone.
If you need to talk to sort out your feelings your friends are probably already aware that this is your coping style. It’s okay to ask them to let you talk. If you don’t want them to give you suggestions, or cheer you up, let them know that up front, and that you just need them to listen.
If you’re the type of person who prefers to work things out yourself, in your own quiet time, remind you friends and family that you need time to process and don’t want to talk about your feelings, or what’s happening until you’ve been able to do that. Let them know that this is the best way for them to give you emotional support.
If you want or need more physical contact, initiate hugs or hand holding with those friends and family members who are likely to comfort you in this way.
If you need to rant about your ex – find a safe person who is not a friend with your ex. Tell them that you want to get out the anger, you won’t always feel this way and very importantly, it can’t get back to your ex! If they can respect that and you trust them – rant away.
…consider the skill sets of your friends and family members and match them to your needs list.
Give your self the love and support you need by honoring yourself and using self-compassion to honor the hurt feelings, guilt feelings, or any negative feeling that you might have. Check out this self-compassion article on our site for tips.
Let’s face it, in relationships each partner tends to manage the tasks that they are comfortable with, or they feel are their strong suit. Conversely, many of us don’t even learn how to do those tasks, because we no longer needed to. No harm, no foul. Now that you are on your own, you going to need help with these tasks. Task might be immediate, some more long term. Begin by making a list of the practical items you will need help with. Here’s a short list that might get you thinking about what you need help with.
- Packing and/or moving
- Painting a room
- Hanging pictures
- Mowing the lawn
- Cooking meals
- Plumbing – fixing a leak, unclogging a drain
- Editing a resume
Newly separated people are now supporting two households instead of one. Also, statistics from the U.S. Government indicate that only 44% of custodial parents receive full child support payments as agreed. Getting on your feet financially will take time. Add on to the list you’ve already started with the financial help you might need.
Creating a new budget – including finding data for average costs of utilities, mortgage/rent, childcare etc.
Replacing household items that you lost in the split. Think about using the Splitsvil Gift Registry to let others know what you might need replaced!
No one likes to borrow money, but there are times that we need to ask for support to get our life back on track. If you do this, document how much you are borrowing and the terms for payback.
Update your “Help List” With Possible Candidates, Timelines and Specifics About What is Needed
Consider the skill sets of your friends and family members and match them to your needs list. Make sure the list is very clear and include timelines if they are required. A good list includes:
- Why you need help/can’t do it yourself, or don’t have time.
- Be ready to explain how their help will impact your life and help you (and/or your kids) to move forward more rapidly.
- When do you need the help? Is there a deadline for completion? E.g., Moving Date
- Flesh out the details – If it’s help packing, is anything packed yet? Will you be sorting through items while you pack and create give away or throw away piles? What amount of time are you asking them to spend with you?
- Other details that might help include who else will be helping, and whether or not you are you providing snacks/meals etc.
How-to-Ask for Help
We all need help sometimes but asking for help can be very uncomfortable. In relationships asking for help is about more than helping to get something done. It’s an opportunity to get closer by sharing your vulnerability and allowing people to help. Contextualizing your request by letting them know the impact of their help on your life, helps those you love to say yes. People generally want to be helpful. Don’t beat around the bush be straight forward by saying “I need your help.” If the other person isn’t able to help, chances are they will still be caring and may offer to help in other ways. They might suggest different ways of getting assistance or other people to ask. Your close friends and family want to help.
When you ask, don’t demand, be humble, kind and vulnerable. Be willing to learn from the other person if you need their expertise. They may be willing to do it, but at the same time want to teach you how to do it. Give them as much advance notice of your need for help as you can. If it’s extremely short, explain why and your regret that it is so short.
It’s important to be okay within yourself to ask for help. As humans we are built to be in relationships and to be helpful to one another. Plan well, ask for help when needed and take care of yourself.