Listen to your friends and try to empathize with them while appearing genuinely interested. Don't give advice, especially if you are not qualified for the case. Try to recommend a professional to help in this case. Don't make the problem worse. Don't allow your support to be seen as an encouragement to give up or get a divorce. Your job is to help steer them toward the proper help and reconciliation. If addiction or abuse is involved, make sure they get the professional help they need and are safe.
Be a listening ear to your friend in their time of need. Do not force your friend into taking any kind of action, because if it backfires, your friend could put the blame on you. Instead do supportive things for them like going out with them for some retail therapy or cooking for them. Most importantly, keep up their positive spirit!
Like everyone has mentioned, just being there to listen is probably the best thing you can do. Aside from that, though, I would like to suggest some other tips:
- Offer to babysit their kids so that they can have some time to themselves
- Give them a Just Because gift that reminds them of a happier time--like a framed picture from an anniversary
- Get them a certificate to something they can do together, like a wine and painting class
Just listen. Sometimes it is not necessary to offer advice - they just need a sympathetic ear. They also need to know that they can trust you not to pass on anything they tell you. Many times people will find a solution to a problem for themselves if a kind and loving person will just listen to what they have to say. Don't criticise their spouse though as you may find that your friend won't talk to you once they have made up with their husband or wife.
A lot of the times a friend who is having marital problems just needs to know that someone is there for them. As a person that cares for him/her you should offer to listen if they want to talk, or to just hang out and do something fun or that will distract them from the heaviness of the situation. This is especially helpful for men since we have a harder time talking about our problems. We would rather do something active , some sort of physical activity together to feel that sense of support without necessarily having to have a really serious conversation. The good thing is that during these hangouts we do end up talking about things a little and can find a lot of comfort in knowing that we aren’t alone.
The best way to help friends through their marriage problems is simply by being a friend to them; being there to listen when they want to talk or cry. If I share my own life and struggles with them and live in a transparent way, they will know that they can trust me and that I will understand and care when they are struggling. If I can see that my friend is being abused, I will gently let her know that she can choose to leave, and I will do all I can help her in a practical way. Sometimes people who are being abused do not know it, and they need someone else to give them “permission” to stop taking the abuse.