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When Liza Morrison, 47, and her husband, Steve, separated seven years ago, she found help in the friendliest of places.

Though the couple attended therapy to sort out the dirty details of the split, Morrison says she couldn’t have made it without a few essential people in her life — her friends.
With two kids at home, a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old, Morrison encountered the unfamiliar world of single parenthood. If one of her kids was at a soccer game and the other at a baseball game, how could she be in two places at once?

Stressed, she sought out her single-parent friends who navigated the same issues. Happy to help, they exchanged nights watching the children if Morrison had a prior commitment.
Her husband often fixed the car, a daunting task for Morrison. Without him there to do it, she felt helpless. Luckily, she had a few good friends who knew how to change her oil. No matter the task, she knew whom to turn to for help — Lori and Stan for car troubles or her male friends for moving.

They were there to do all the “guy stuff” — the things she once leaned on Steve to do. And her girlfriends helped her pick, furnish, and decorate her new home — even organizing a “painting party” to transform her living and dining rooms.

According to Harvard researchers, friendships promote brain health and improve psychological well-being. During her separation, Morrison’s friends did just that. “It was just as important to me to know they could figure out how to take care of a car,” she says, “as just being a sympathetic ear when I was complaining that I didn’t know how to get from the soccer game to the baseball game when there’s only one of me.”

And that’s what they were — kind listeners she could easily approach for advice (be it financial or educational) or the separation itself (family therapy or where to find a good lawyer).

Though her marriage unraveled, Morrison found solace in the fact that her friendships remained—her ties to them became stronger — despite the huge change in her life. “Maybe it’s a test of true friendship,” she says, “how you weather transitions and difficulties — all of you, together.”

In the midst of crisis, true friends knuckle down and assist with the fallout. At least Morrison’s did. “In tough times,” she says, “I think it’s really important to lean on and use the friendships that you have to sort of get you through.

And, God-willing, I hope I’m able to do it for other people too.”

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