Woman talking about her divorce recovery

How to Recover from Divorce Emotionally

You’ve heard it before, divorce can be as stressful as losing someone to death. Except death is final. The person is gone. So for those who never wanted the divorce, who continue to struggle, trying to recover from divorce emotionally, that lack of closure — still knowing your ex is around — can be more painful than death. He’s not gone — entirely.

Losing your marriage no matter how long you’ve been married, or the circumstances of who left whom, is going to require experiencing and working through your grief. And grief may not be what you think it means.

We like to define grief as the sudden loss of a familiar pattern or way of living. For example, while you might not be missing the yelling, the passive/aggressive behaviors of your ex or yourself, or the lying, cheating or second guessing of yourself;  you’re probably not entirely prepared for the changes facing you across the board, now that you are waking up wondering who your are. How did you lose yourself? As you begin to understand divorce recovery, and that this next chapter in front of you is complicated, you’ll need to remind yourself to be patient. Your healing is not going to happen overnight.

But there are things you can do to begin the repairing of your heart and body and soul.

Get the support and help you need

The first weeks and months after a divorce can feel soul-wretchedly lonely, but there are others who can help you feel less alone. While friends and family may be available to lean on if you need anything, it is sometimes better to work with a licensed counselor or therapist who can guide you through your grieving. It’s important to have a safe place where you can honestly open up and discuss your feelings in the wake of the divorce.

Accept your emotions, experience them and talk about them

You might be feeling angry or besotted with sadness. You might be numb. You are probably experiencing a spectrum of emotions after your divorce, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. This is an extremely challenging moment time and it’s important that you accept your feelings for what they are. Cry when you need to cry (in that safe place described above). Vent about your anger when you feel frustrated or upset. This allows you to experience the emotions and to process what they mean to you.  It’s not about sweeping them under the rug or putting them in a box. It’s about honoring them and giving them space. A support group, a good friend who has been through divorce, or a coach can help you with perspective and what’s more, doing something to move beyond the trauma.

Try to maintain your daily routine

Nearly every aspect of your life is uprooted when you get divorced, and it’s easy to feel like each day is chaotic and stressful. To maintain some sense of normalcy, it’s necessary to stick to a consistent routine. Continue to have your favorite coffee in the morning. Take the same route to work, and make your favorite spaghetti dinner on Tuesdays like you always do. This can both alleviate stress and bring comfort during an emotionally trying time in your life.

Delve into a new interest or hobby

Divorce can take its toll on your identity. While you grieve the loss of your status as a married person and as a spouse to someone that you once loved, you should also see an opportunity to grow, change and learn new things. For many, a new hobby can be therapeutic. It takes your mind off of the pain of your divorce, and also allows you to find something for yourself that you enjoy. Photography, crafting, writing, hiking or yoga are a few options that you might want to consider.

Keep a journal

Writing about your feelings and your daily activities can provide you with a private outlet for your feelings. This is one of the safest spaces to disclose your thoughts and your experiences in the aftermath of your divorce. Pick a time of day where you have a few extra minutes to jot down your thoughts — many people find that before bedtime is a wonderful time of day to journal. Incorporate journaling into your new routine, and keep up with your new habit in the months and years to come.

Prioritize self-care

After a divorce, it can be easy to focus your efforts on caring for your children or throwing yourself into your work. It’s also easy to forget that you need to take care of yourself. However, this is one of the most important times in your life to prioritize self-care. Treat yourself to that pedicure, even if it doesn’t feel like you have the time. Take a warm bubble bath at the end of the night and read a light-hearted novel. Visit your favorite local restaurant and enjoy the most delicious item on the menu. Do things that make you feel good and happy, as this will help minimize your stress.

Allow yourself to focus on the future 

Your future needs your attention, And there is a future. You may not feel it or see it, but it’s right in front of you. You just cannot see it if you are only looking in the rearview mirror.

 

If you are struggling to recover from divorce, and dealing with the wounds at the same time you are trying to rebuild your life, you may be especially interested in a 6-week group we are forming to support women navigating this new chapter of their lives. If you’d like to learn more, schedule a quick 15-minute chat with SAS Cofounder, Liza Caldwell.  To advance, to live well, you must do something.

contemplating divorce can feel like you are spinning

Contemplating Divorce Can Keep You Spinning

Recently, when I was unpacking boxes and settling into my new house, I came across something that seemed to speak to me from a different lifetime.  It was my old journal, written years ago, during the months leading up to my decision to get divorced:

 “I feel as if I am living in the twilight zone. I’m sooo lonely, scared, trapped in this weird world where I don’t know what will happen next.

“I’m angry at him. I pity him.  I miss him. I love him.  I hate him.”

“I could make a choice. I could leave.  I could choose that.”

“Part of me wants to run far away. Part of me is scared and worried. How will the bills get paid? Do I need to protect myself? Part of me is sad. Sad that we have grown so far apart. Part of me feels guilty and part of me is just MAD.”

For months (maybe, if I am honest with myself, for years) I was spinning in circles. I was desperately unhappy and feeling torn, and scared.  I couldn’t get clarity or figure out what to do, or what I wanted. I was caught in a vicious cycle of “should I, or shouldn’t I?” like the clothes in a dryer, getting tossed, twisted up in a knot, and slammed again against the door. Even after I left, I still went round and round. I worried and wondered if I made the right decision. And I remember feeling physically awful too…my back ached constantly, I had unrelenting headaches and weird episodes of dizziness that would come and go. My confidence was at an all time low. Literally, ZERO. At one point I wrote in my journal, “Am I capable of that?” wondering if I would be able to pay the bills by myself, which seems so unbelievable to me now. Why didn’t I think I would be able to pay the bills? I’d done it before. How had I become so unsure of myself?

“Really, I’m stuck. What do I do?” 

“I’m half afraid that if I tell someone I want to get divorced, they’ll talk me out of it.” 

“I am GOING to leave!”

“My heart hurts.”

I know now that what I needed then was someone to open that door, to stop the spinning and help me get everything sorted out.  It is hard to acknowledge to yourself that something is wrong, let alone talk to anyone else about it. And it seems like once you tell someone you are thinking about getting a divorce and it’s no longer just in your thoughts, you have to actually do it. What you need is someone to be a witness to what’s happening to you in your head and in your heart.  You need someone to help you see things more clearly, to help you understand what you are going through, and to tell you what to do. And most importantly, you need someone to help you find your confidence again.

As divorce coaches, we know considering or even coping with divorce can keep you spinning. This feeling of repeat, repeat, and revisiting what you know and don’t know is a sure sign that on some level, you do know something is critically wrong.  We also know that you can stop — or at least, PAUSE — the spinning by making small changes.  Start by asking yourself, what do you most fundamentally need? What do you really want, deep down?  Write this down somewhere and look back at it regularly to keep it fresh in your mind. This is about getting and staying in touch with you.  Push PAUSE again and find a friend or professional whom you can trust and feel comfortable confiding in.  Talking with someone will help you process everything that’s going on in your head, heart and body.  Then, and only then, outside the wretched revolving dryer, will you be able to stop the spinning and start moving forward with your life.

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the experience and aftermath of divorce, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.  Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce.

“A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.”

If you want support, schedule a free consult or check out Annie’s Group.

Father coparenting his daughter by tending to her hair.

How to Parent Your CoParent (Without Him Realizing!)

You know that setting an example is always important. And you can guess, I’m not just talking about the model you demonstrate to your kids. When you separate and become coparents, it is so easy to disengage and consequently, communicate less and less with your ex. It can be such a relief! Yet, communication more than ever remains key. If you want a healthy coparenting situation where both parents are informed and active (the best scenario for your children), then how you share information is vital. What’s more, communicating healthily in front of your children provides them with a model to base their own behavior.

The value of setting the coparent example

If you want your children to grow up as kind-hearted, thoughtful, respectful people then screaming at your coparent is not going to cut it. Your ex needs to realize this too.

So, if you lead, if you set the example, this will show your coparent “how it’s done” (potentially, he* may have no idea, otherwise). This might well encourage your ex to emulate you (but don’t ask him to acknowledge that!)

There should be a clear distinction between setting an example for your ex-spouse and making an example of him/her. If the other half of your coparenting duo is failing in some way, don’t complain about this to your children. If your coparent is breaking arrangements or missing dates, speak to him about it whilst keeping the interests of your children the focal point of your conversation. You must always frame things and behaviors as how they impact the children. Try explaining that lateness and missing appointments “are not values we want to instill in our children” and simultaneously how “it’s not fair to keep them waiting or give them false expectations.” “They are excited to see you and disappointed when you don’t show up or appear unreliable.”

This seems self-evident, but your coparent is rarely going to be motivated to please you (–although some ex’s are evolved). So venting to him about your plans being foiled or your appointments being missed because of him and his lateness or no show, is not going to necessarily cause him to be more reliable in the future.  Again, it’s the kids, it’s the kids …

It goes without saying that you then need to do everything to keep your word, and you must honor your appointments. When you reach an agreement, stick to it. Parenting plans and schedules are designed to be flexible but simultaneously need to be stuck to unless enough prior notice is given to all involved parties (including your kids).

Respect your differences

There are many different parenting styles and it’s highly unlikely that you and your ex will see eye to eye on all aspects of raising the children. In fact it’s highly unlikely these days you see eye to eye on anything! That being said you can’t expect each co-parent to share the exact same ideals and try to implement the same parenting methods. Differences don’t mean that one approach is right and that one is wrong. If you want your coparent to see things from your point of view, or if your ex genuinely needs a metaphorical kick up the backside in terms of effort levels, then the best approach is not belittling the parent in front of the children.

Parenting styles you may be familiar with range from Authoritative to Permissive with plenty of room for grey areas in between. Of course, if your coparent is massively lacking discipline in an area of their parenting then you should have a quiet word. You need to agree on values you teach your children and consistent rules regardless of which household they’re staying at. This doesn’t mean being too involved in your coparent’s time with your child though; give your ex room to naturally develop his relationship, solo, with the children.

Don’t give up!

If you can accept your differences then you can work together. Don’t dismiss your chances at having a successful coparenting relationship, because your marriage did not work. Your children are one of the wonderful things that remain of your relationship. And it is for your children that it’s worth doing your best now with your ex. Giving your children the quality of life you want, the parenting relationships they need, and the easiest transition between households are your goals.

Listen to your co-parent, acknowledge his opinion and respect prior arrangements. Reinforce the fact that you are a parenting team. Be considerate towards your ex, co-operate, apologize when necessary and communicate effectively whilst applying restraint. Keep your coparent informed, updated and most importantly involved with your children.

Be prepared to compromise and work on your patience! Apply constructive criticisms SELECTIVELY and be ready for the response. It may seem like a lot to remember but eventually it will come more naturally and once applied you should be able to get a mirrored response from your ex-spouse. If not, he will run risk of being the “bad guy” and in that situation at least your children will have one positive role model to look up to.

Doing the right thing improves your coparenting relationship and your parent/child relationship. It may seem obvious but then again nobody will claim it is easy. When past love, hate, bitterness and emotion is involved it becomes very difficult to be the bigger person and control your actions, words and body language. Nevertheless you must put the hurt and anger aside and separate your feelings from your behavior. Your children must realize that they are far more important than the issues that ended your relationship with your Ex.

This article was authored by Krishan Smith, senior editor and content specialist at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans and schedules whilst additionally providing free co-parenting resources and a scholarship program for single parents.

(* Disclaimer: For the sake of brevity, this article relies on the pronoun “him” as the gender of  your ex; while we well realize your ex may be a she.)

Independent woman spreading her cape like a powerful butterfly

100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced, Independent Woman

How do you rebuild your life after divorce? Ah, a very good question, my dear Ms. Watson. So good … or so daunting … that the answer and its blinding array of what ifs and unknowns make most people shrink and stop. They never find out for themselves.

But that’s not you. Because here you are after divorce, emerging from the dust and finding that you have no choice. You are wondering who you were before you were married. You question who you are now.

This is tortuously … normal.

But first things first: pay them no mind, those back there, watching you from afar. They mean well (… well, mostly) but they don’t understand. After all, from what they can see — most logically and clearly — is that you’ve completed the divorce agreement. What’s more, you’re living in a separate house. Shouldn’t you be getting a grip on yourself and moving on?

You are moving on, is what we’ll tell you.

The experience of beginning these steps below, will build upon the culmination of what you’ve been through and who you want to be. You will discover you do have a choice. You have choices, indeed.

And after you’ve read our list of one hundred ways to support and enhance your life as a proud, independent woman, take in a big breath and consider one more.

A retreat of epic proportions!

100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced, Independent Woman

1. Reconnect with long lost friends and family.

2. Eat brightly colored fruit and vegetables that say yes to life and YES to LIVING!

3. Find a good financial advisor who empowers you.

4. Open your own bank accounts (if you haven’t) and check your credit score.

5. Complete paperwork or any lingering details from the divorce (For example, transfer/consolidate your IRA. Change beneficiaries on documents. Are you changing your name?)

6. Take a bath in lavender and frankincense.

7. Find a divorced-friend (or friends) and schedule a monthly outing or regular, stay-at-home potluck and netflix viewing of … Under the Tuscan Sun? The First Wives’ Club? Eat, Pray, Love? An Unmarried Woman? Wild? The Other Woman?

8. Elsewhere, create boundaries. Lines in the sand. Practice saying “No” elegantly – especially to toxic friends or situations.

9. Connect with Nature everyday.

10. Understand you are in flux (even now) after the divorce, and take steps to begin or nurture your healing.

11. Buy a new mattress and sheets. (Spray them with your favorite perfume for you.)

12. Find an affordable accountant who will teach you more about financial independence. BONUS if he has a sense of humor!

13. Evaluate your credit cards, consolidate debt and cut what you don’t need.

14. Investigate your home options, now and long term. What’s the smart play for now? What’s your dream?

15. Take a nap.

16. If you don’t have the children, sleep in.

17. Wake up and commit to a daily practice of moving and getting in shape.

18. Get your teeth bleached.

19. When faced with a decision, start checking in with your Inner Voice. What does she say?

20. Scan your divorce document and have a couple of extra copies notarized for posterity.

21. Then put all divorce paperwork away.

22. Create a new email address for your new chapter, Life After Divorce.

23. Smoke (because you can).

24. Stop smoking and decide to have your home smudged instead.

25. Keep purging. Donate unused items, clothes, and books. Remove yourself from junk mail and automated call lists.

26. Create a beautiful home with just what you want and need. Make it for you (& your kids if you have them). Even if it is smaller than before, make it your anchor and your sanctuary.

27. Write in a journal. You could even throw out the journal someday, but get the thoughts out of your head. Morning is a really good time for this. Excellent ideas might come to you this way.

28. Try a new haircut or outrageous hair color!

29. Buy some French Love Letters & get educated about STD’s.

30. Schedule your gynecologist, your 3D mammogram, your general practitioner, and your eye exams.

31. Not to sound maudlin, but since you are on this efficiency roll, you might as well update or CREATE your will. You’ve got to anyway!

32. Eat something your Ex was allergic to.

33. Make a plan for the holidays when you are with the kids … and when you are alone. Now.

34. Take to bed and cry.

35. Don’t date.

36. Or, hit Tinder! (Create your online dating profile.)

37. Develop a budget. Ask your financial advisor or your accountant how; or better yet, see #52.

38. Support Frankie and Grace’s business: buy a good quality vibrator and use it for health reasons.

39. Learn how to breathe.

40. Avoid processed foods.

41. Create your Blues or Freedom playlist (Aretha? Adele? Beyoncé?) Play it when you need reminding you have survived divorce. You are building a meaningful life. You are an independent woman. You are worthy.

42. Go to graduate school or enroll in some Continuing Education classes at your local college.

43. Write down your goals for the next year … the next 5 years … and your long term.

44. Botox it.

45. Wear an outfit you love but your Ex hated.

46. Go to a cool bar solo (Go inside.)

47. If you are heading back to work after a career break, check out iRelaunch.com

48. Update your resume regardless.

49. Use sunblock (then go topless on a beach).

50. Investigate insurance options and based on what you can afford, get something in place.

51. Visit a nutritionist. Find out what foods you are allergic to and what others make you thrive.

52. Learn even more about your money with this accessible and genius class designed for newly divorced women.

53. Get more professional advice, but this time on “your colors.” Pick one new, sexy, power lipstick. Because sometimes you are going to need to fake it, and other times, life after divorce is going to be better than you imagined.

54. Allow yourself to date (and more) a younger man.

55. Keep exploring different styles of clothes and different types of men.

56. Swim in a lake or ocean au naturel.

57. Learn to parallel park or drive stick shift.

58. Stop apologizing.

59. Be still.

60. Explore traveling to a place you’ve only dreamed of (without the kids)

61. Detox your body.

62. Start planning and saving to make your dream trip a reality. This. Year.

63. Hire a mentor / coach or see a loving therapist.

64. Cultivate a daily relationship with YOU.

65. Declare you will listen to the biggest, most expressed version of yourself. She has plans for you (and may scare you to death, which means you’re on to something).

66. Explore investment opportunities.

67. Consider starting a woman’s group — spiritual group, meditation, book club, walking.

68. Dare to state what it is you really want.

69. Stay out all night.

70. Invite yourself to a friend’s house for the weekend.

71. Chase a bat down or change a mousetrap: do something icky you never would have done before.

72. Create your Musts Have’s and Non Negotiables for your next relationship as an independent woman.

73. Every now and then, just be with a small child. View the world through her eyes.

74. Stay connected to your most inspiring divorced friends, keep nurturing your posse and stay open to new and surprising people.

75. Go on retreat, do yoga, meditate and connect to a world deep inside and outside you.

76. Commit to one thing you have always wanted to create.

77. Sell your wedding ring and finance something on this list or your bucket list.

78. Spend time visiting your mother, your father, an elderly person. Ask, what is their most important Life Lesson?

79. At night before going off to sleep remind yourself of what you are grateful for.

80. Create a vision board giving visuals (pictures, inspirational quotes, notes) to your goals (#43). Hang it where you will see and add to it regularly.

81. Be prepared: buy new underwear.

82. Learn something you’ve always wanted to try (Italian? Snowboarding? Bee-keeping?)

83. Hike a trail whose name inspires you? (The Incan Trail, The Appalachian or El Camino de Santiago?)

84. List your house on Airbnb or Home Exchange and go somewhere else to live like a local.

85. Do something you could never do when you were married.

86. Look back and laugh.

87. Teach someone the thing(s) you do effortlessly.

88. Find a place you feel whole and go there often.

89. Investigate owning your own business.

90. Spend time with your heroines (in whatever form).

91. Define what courageous means to you.

92. Do something courageous each day.

93. Understand what forgiveness really means and write your letters of forgiveness.

94. Turn your skills into inspiration.

95. Learn mindfulness.

96. Shake your booty (any dance class or club will do).

97. Choose joy and laugh now!

98. Determine if your thoughts support your ideal life and proceed accordingly.

99. Begin writing your memoir.

100. Help someone else.

101. Volunteer.

102. If you’ve never had your eyelashes done — find your eyelash girl!

103. Add one healthy habit every day.

104. Own your gifts. Owning them means admitting they are there, no matter how scary, and showing up as a woman with those gifts.

105. Find ways to be accountable. (A mentor, possibly?)

106. Commit to growing and thriving!

If you are aching to get to that place of independence, but are still grappling with momentous change (divorce? career transition? empty nesting? widowhood?), connect with us a for a free coaching session. We promise — whether you work further with us or not — you will walk away with a next step in securing that future, that future of power and real, genuine living.

And if you are seeking structure, divorce support and female wisdom, check out Annie’s Group.

credit: weheartit.com

Why Is Going Back to Work So Hard?

Perhaps it’s because the finances are getting tight … or the kids have gone off to college (and that was always the plan anyways); or maybe you’ve taken a break for medical reasons. Or, you have to go back to work, because you got divorced, and you have to support yourself now. Or maybe you’ve been raising children and taking care of your family, and now with them gone, you are looking for meaning. Whatever the reason… now you find yourself going back to work because simply put, you need INCOME.

So you dig out the old resume, dust off your suit (please, remove the shoulder pads) and grab the classifieds to circle the jobs you’ll apply for … when, oh, wait. That’s not how they do it anymore.

How do you look for a job these days? Not to mention, who will want to hire you? You’ve been out of the loop for so long that there might be that little voice deep down, whispering that you’re too old, too shlumpy, that technology has changed too much, that you just don’t have what it takes anymore to hack it in the “real” world? Well, tell her to shut it, and let’s figure this out.

Let’s just start with the fact that you’re going back to work. This is not optional, right? We both know that the negative thinking isn’t going to help you get there so let’s just override that Little Debbie Downer Voice and concentrate on what you have to do instead.

First, there are several things you must keep in mind:

  • Going to back to work IS work. Put yourself in the frame of mind that you have a job already. Your job is to find a job. This job you’ll need to do every day, probably for many months before you finish it.
  • You’ll need to develop a detailed plan for what you need to do every day to move toward your goal of landing said job. For more details, check out the “things you need to do” list below.
  • Obviously you know you’ll need to update your resume. When you do, really review it and study up. When the time comes, you WILL be asked about your responsibilities, successes & challenges from previous positions, even if it was over a decade ago. Know your resume well. Be proud of what you have accomplished and be ready to tell someone about it all.
  • Speaking of resumes, we tend to think of them as a piece of paper that tells a possible employer where you’ve been and that’s true. But your resume (and Linked In profile, we’ll get to that) must also speak to where you are trying to go. So think about that, what are you hoping to be doing? What are you good at? What are your non-negotiables? What do you absolutely NOT want to be doing? Give some thought to these questions and land on an idea of what you would like to aim for.
  • Finally, don’t think to yourself, “I could do anything really, as long as they pay me.” Even if it’s true, you can’t conduct a job search with that mindset. They will smell your desperation. Instead, be clear with yourself and anyone you speak to that you know what you are looking for and why you’d be good at. If you don’t know what that is yet, revisit the previous point until you do.

OK! Now that you are ready to get rolling, here are some of the things you need to do to get your plan together:

  1. Get up to speed. If you haven’t really touched a computer lately other than to check Facebook, you may want to consider taking some classes to get up to speed with current software. If you were licensed in a trade, you may need to sign up for some Continuing Ed or apply to reinstate your licensure. If you are thinking about taking a new direction altogether, you may need to look into programs and requirements at local universities. Whatever the case is for you, be thinking about what you need to do to educate and prepare yourself for what you are trying to do next.
  2. Get connected. This actually means a number of things. This is where LinkedIn comes in, for example. As of 2018 anyway, a LinkedIn profile is an important part of your job search. Employers will expect it and look for it so make sure it’s in good shape with a professional profile picture and up to date information. In fact, this should be the case wherever you are online. Prospective employers will stalk you online to check you out, so make sure everything out there is stuff you can be proud of. But that’s not it for connecting … you should also check with your alma mater. Your school may have a career services department that can line you up with some resources. Look at local resources, for example the New York Public Library offers Career Placement Services; perhaps your community library or college does as well.
  3. Get involved. Once you’ve decided the general direction of what kind of work you are looking for, start looking for professional organizations related to the field and join them. Go to meetings, read the newsletters, read online and post to their pages … make it your business to be involved in any way that you can. A great universal organization to begin with is Toastmasters  where you can go and meet interesting people from all walks of life, hone your public speaking skills and come away from meetings with a refreshed confidence in yourself. Plus, you just never know who can hook you up with a lead on a job. The more people you meet and impress, the more eyes and ears you have searching out there with you.
  4. Consider taking a job before you take the job. Keep in mind, you may not get exactly what you want in the beginning. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something while you continue to work your plan. Consider part time work, to get some money coming in while you meet new people. Or, look in to gig work (check out this great article for ideas) or even volunteering to fill your heart and to connect with others.
  5. Get some guidance. Gosh, there is so much more to share, so many more strategies to tell you about! But then unfortunately this article would be way, way too long. So we recommend that you take a look at a group called iRelaunch; they offer all kinds of programming, online and in person, to help professionals return to the workplace. Finally, we recommend that you work directly with a professional on this if you can… a coach will be able to help you think through all the parts, from figuring out what it is that you want to do – to getting your comprehensive job search plan together and helping you execute it – to clinking glasses with you when you land the Big Job!

We wish you much luck in your quest to getting back to work! Dare to even dream a little bit. Change is not easy  but you’ve got this. We know it takes some digging into yourself to really get in touch with why someone would want to hire you… and we applaud you for this work. We have every confidence in you! We can’t wait to hear about how you nailed just the right interview and how excited you are for your first day at work. Until then, you’ve got your plan. Take it one step at a time.

 

Wondering how to take the first step? The second? How the heck do you get to figuring out … anything? We’d love to help support you relaunch your next, best chapter.  Let’s start with a free consultation. You’ll walk out of that conversation with next steps tailored to your needs, whether you work with us ongoing or not. We promise!

 

 

Woman walking on beach thinking about divorce

36 Things to Do If You Are Thinking About Divorce

If you are thinking about divorce, your thoughts can fluctuate, ranging from the mere, fleeting imaginings of what life might be like if you were single, to the repetitive, torturous thought process of “Should I or shouldn’t I divorce?” While one end of the spectrum is entirely normal for many people, the other end can signal serious problems in and for a marriage.

Based on our background in education and experience working with clients in our divorce practice, we’ve identified the following 36 things that can help you understand where you are on the spectrum of contemplating divorce and what steps you can take to gain greater clarity and stop the recurring thought process.

As you complete each step you will be doing more than merely thinking about divorce. You will begin to better understand which direction your marriage and life might go.

    1. As you first contemplate divorce, you may or may not know if you want to divorce. Accept that this is entirely normal. What you “want” may be entirely different from what you ultimately decide you “must” do. Your job right now is to study and learn what is possible for you and your family.
    2. Educate yourself. It’s likely that you feel you’ve reached an impasse in your marriage and your emotions may be all over the place. You might be incredibly angry and lashing out. Or perhaps you have retreated, feeling despondent, probably depressed. This is to be expected, but you should not be making long-term decisions from this emotional place. Start educating yourself by looking for credible divorce resources. Visit your nearby bookstore or search online. There is a wealth of information available to you for free.
    3. Understand that getting educated about the choices you have for your life does not mean you are necessarily getting divorced. You are learning about your options and what your rights are so you can ultimately make a good decision from an informed place.
    4. Establish a new (secret) email account dedicated to this subject. Take care to use a “private” or “incognito” window so that the computer does not create a history of where you’ve been when you go to log on. And take time to create a new email address. Use this email to sign up for divorce information and newsletters that might advance your thinking and understanding.
    5. Save cash. Should you decide to pursue divorce, you will need access to money. If all your money is in joint accounts with your spouse, check with a lawyer as to when you can open your own account, or start stashing cash in a safe, secret place. Maybe you’ll never need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you started saving now.
    6. If you feel you may be a victim of abuse, take action immediately.  There are many signs and forms of abuse, and sometimes it’s difficult to know if you are a victim. A clear sign is this: If you find yourself constantly watching what you are saying and doing, or walking on eggshells around your spouse–lest you trigger him/her and “cause” a blow up, you are likely in an unhealthy and abusive relationship.  Focus your attention there.  Read more about this and take action to protect yourself and your children. You may feel you can handle it, but things will not improve unless you do something to change the way things are now.
    7. Make a list of your most critical financial questions.  If you divorce, will you have to get a job if you’ve been a stay-at-home-mom? If you have debt, do you understand half the marital debt is yours? Should you use your IRA to help pay for your divorce? Keep a running list of questions as they occur to you.
    8. Be careful in whom you confide – this includes family.  Few people can be truly objective, and fewer still are marriage or divorce experts. Yet, there are plenty of opinions and judgements. Just because your neighbor got burned by his ex, does not mean that’s what’s in store for you if you choose to divorce.
    9. Do your best to conduct your research from a healthy mindset. It’s easy to vilify and blame your spouse for the problems that exist, but deep down, you know no one is totally faultless. As you learn about the issues in your marriage and what is possible for your lives, try to avoid the adversarial, vindictive, blame-gaming, and often, gender-bashing attitudes some books, some social media posts, or some people propagate.
    10. Evaluate your biggest fears. Do you fear you cannot “afford a divorce?” Are you afraid what divorce would do to your kids and thus, staying in a marriage “for the kids”?  Writing down your fears may help you examine their validity.  You may recognize you cannot not afford a divorce because you need your sanity…or that you are really hiding behind the kids so that you don’t have to be a single parent or face being alone.
    11. Think of how your kids are being impacted now and will be impacted long term. If you are a parent, and you and your spouse are fighting, look at yourselves as your kids might view you. You may think they don’t know what’s going on, but on some level they do, and it’s anxiety inducing for them. Your lack of clarity and unresolved difficulties or the warzone you have created is playing out in their lives, too.
    12. Avoid venting on social media. Watch out for where you vent and be wary of social media. If you say something online, it’s there forever and can be used against you. Same for emails. Before posting or hitting SEND, review what you are saying as if you were a courtroom judge. Be very careful.
    13. Recognize that marriage does not come with an owner’s manual. In our culture, most of us are poorly prepared for making a marriage work. Often it is something we learn — or fail to learn — behind the marital door. At this point in your relationship, it’s not worth beating yourself up…that energy is better spent figuring out what to do about your situation today and how you will move forward tomorrow.
    14. Ask yourself, is there is any love left? Do you still love your spouse? Love is sometimes hard to find when you are consumed by anger, resentment, or are stressed out from overworking, parenting, or a million, everyday struggles. If there’s even a hint of love left, however, it’s worth asking the question, “Can I re-ignite it?
    15. If you decide to stay in the marriage, set your intention and begin work together. Discuss with your spouse how you are going to work on your marriage so you begin to do things differently and not repeat the same old story. It’s unlikely that you will be able to do this without the support of a professional, so we suggest that you seek a trained marriage counselor.
    16. Evaluate what you have done as a couple to repair your relationship. Have you sought good quality help? Not all couples therapy is created equal. If you’re working with a therapist and you’re not making progress, it does not mean you should necessarily divorce. Investigate which types of marital therapy have the best success rates and find a trained practitioner who will teach you how to communicate with each other and help you both understand that growth and change require a deep commitment from both of you.
    17. Consider Discernment Counseling. Particularly helpful to couples where one partner wants to divorce and the other wishes to repair the relationship, discernment counseling helps couples understand if their problems are solvable. An added benefit is that the counseling is designed to be short term and to help you answer the important question, “Should we get a divorce?”
    18. Think about your role in the difficulties of the marriage and do not isolate yourself. If you are convinced that marital therapy is not working or that your spouse is not participating, or that your efforts to try to do things differently are failing, do not isolate yourself. Seek to move beyond wondering if you should divorce. Being alone darkens your sense of possibility and hope. It keeps you in a spin cycle of overthinking.
    19. Begin assembling a list of your most critical legal questions. Do you separate or do you divorce? If you were to divorce, how do you go about it? Do you know the different ways? Is Mediation an option for you? How do you find a good attorney? What are your rights? What do you not know?
    20. Read about the divorce laws in your state. Laws vary and what is possible in one state may not be possible in yours.  Most states have a section on the court website to help you understand the divorce process where you live. Start there.
    21. Consider a Time Out. Often when there’s a physical shift between a couple, it’s easier to think straight and reflect on what is really important. Consider taking a long vacation away from the other, or a house-sitting job. If you wish to live separately make sure you consult with an attorney in your state before doing anything.
    22. Organize and prioritize your most critical practical questions. If you’ve never paid the bills before, how would you begin?  If you work overtime most days, who would be home for the children after school — if your spouse is no longer there? Keep a running list and add to it as you think of things.
    23. Move beyond the cyclical thought process of thinking about divorce by consulting compassionate, professional support. We recommend your first step be a consultation with a divorce coach. A divorce coach can help you understand the legal and emotional process you may be facing and the issues that are holding you back from making a decision. A good divorce coach will help you evaluate what’s real and not, and help you take steps to face your fears. A divorce coach can also explain the different legal processes that may be available to you. Learning about your choices will allow you to go deeper and be more educated if you choose to then consult with the next level of experts (lawyers, financial advisors, mediators) whose hourly rate is often more expensive.
    24. Ask your divorce coach, therapist, and friends for vetted referrals to other experts, including lawyers. You are seeking perspective and feedback on your situation, and if you think you are ready to hire someone, you are looking for chemistry and someone you can trust.
    25. Schedule consultations with several attorneys and/or a mediator.  We recommend that you interview several. Bring your legal questions from step #19, or for more information, read here for additional questions. Don’t forget your notebook for taking notes and your last 3 years’ tax returns (if possible.)
    26. Consider having your friend or divorce coach accompany you to some or all of these professional meetings. There is a lot to learn and keep track of at the same time you are feeling stressed. Having an ally to help you take notes and bounce ideas off after meetings will lessen your strain on trying to be on top of everything.
    27. Strategize about how you might pay for a divorce. Will you use joint money, a loan, a credit card, your secret stash (#5), or borrow money from a friend or relative or from a saving account or your IRA? Learn the laws about “counsel fees” in your state and ask the attorneys you are interviewing how you might pay their retainer and ongoing fees.
    28. Branch out and talk to more experts who can help you answer your other questions. Often a financial advisor experienced in divorce will think of things a lawyer will not mention. S/he can possibly help you strategize how you might pay for a divorce or what might be in your interest to ask for in the settlement. A child therapist who has counseled other parents through divorce may do much to help you support your child. A real estate broker might advise you on your practical housing questions, such as the pros and cons of renting vs. buying if you divorce, or what your house might be appraised for. When a question comes to mind, think about who is out there and who might have the answer for you.
    29. Understand there will come a tipping point and you will make a decision about divorce. Despite your best efforts to get educated beyond just thinking about divorce, rarely will you know 100 percent if you should or should not follow through. Usually there remains some portion of ambivalence, but know that at some moment in time, you will reach a saturation point of information and either you’ll be ready to make the decision to stay or go — or the decision will be forced upon you.
    30. You are not ready for divorce If you cannot accept changes. If you cannot accept there will be a change to your finances, lifestyle, friendship groups, or traditions, you are not ready for divorce. If you cannot accept uncertainty … that at times there will be fear and unknowns, then you are not ready for divorce. On the other hand, you may have no choice. In which case, you must face your greatest fears. Seek support.
    31. If you decide to move ahead with the divorce, set your intention. Determine how you want to conduct yourself throughout this difficult passage and beyond. Remind yourself you will have no control over your spouse, but you will try your best to control how you act and react. If you have children, ask yourself what is the model you want to show them? Write down the image of yourself as the parent you want to be. Establishing a clear image of who you want to be and what you want to demonstrate for your kids will help you in this next often-difficult stage.
    32. Understand that you want to avoid divorce court if you can help it. Rarely is anyone completely happy with the terms of his/her divorce, but to avoid getting a judge involved, you will have to be flexible, negotiate in good faith, and compromise on tough issues. Being stubborn or vindictive is what drives people to litigation. That means court. (The truth is that less than 10% of cases end up in a full blown trial; but those that do, end up with massive legal bills and a destroyed relationship.)
    33. Start collecting your financial information.  If you choose to begin divorce proceedings, you will be required to disclose your finances early in the process. Most states have a required financial statement form (though different states have different names for it — check your state court website). Begin filling it out or hunting down the information to get a head start.
    34. Learn what your next steps are and what the process will look like. A divorce coach will act as your guide throughout the process, but if you are not working with one (or cannot afford one at this time) ask your lawyer to explain how the legal process will go and how s/he will keep you informed. Also ask him/her what is the best way to communicate going forward: Is email best? Telephone? How do you keep costs in check? Knowing what to expect will help manage your anxiety and stress.
    35. Be kind to yourself. Understand that there will be times you feel crazy, like you’ve returned to your old loop of contemplating divorce and wondering if you are doing the right thing. But because you followed many of these steps, you are not embarking on this path lightly. You have taken every opportunity to be thoughtful about facing this major life-change, divorce, and though you many not desire this outcome, you have done your homework.
    36. Know that there is life after divorce. What stands directly in front of you is moving through the divorce process and ensuring your divorce recovery. It will be challenging. But for you and your family to stand the best shot at a healthy life afterwards, you must continue to step forward mindfully and with intention. There is life after divorce. You probably cannot see it yet. You certainly cannot feel it, but it’s there and bigger and better than you can imagine, it is waiting for you.

If you are considering divorce, you may well benefit from watching our free 40-minute video: Should You or Shouldn’t You Divorce?  It helps you understand why things are not clear for you and steps you can take toward resolution (in either direction) so you lessen your anxiety and chronic state of limbo.

#Metoo in calligraphy

#MeToo. In My Own Marriage

I’m loath to write this piece but I feel like I have to… I don’t want to, because it’s embarrassing, and because I’m afraid he’ll read it. But I have to — I know there are women out there who are being sexually harassed by their husbands this very minute and they don’t even know it. Or they know it deep down but don’t call it that because, well, they are married to him. We can’t call it sexual harassment if we are married, right? Oh HELL YES we can. Especially now.

On October 15th, I saw a Facebook post that read, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘#Metoo’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” I quickly posted “Me too” on my page thinking of the professor who failed me when I wouldn’t respond to his “flirting” … and the time another guy ground his groin into my backside on a crowded subway … or all the countless times any guy stared at my boobs while “talking” to me. But in that moment of my #MeToo post, my ex husband didn’t enter my consciousness. And I certainly didn’t think my “Me too” would become part of something bigger. (Thank you, brave and bold women.)

Fast forward to now and I don’t know about you, but every morning when I wake up and see yet another celebrity or politician or executive on the news with a sexual harassment charge, I get a tiny little thrill. FINALLY the dirty little undercurrent that literally every woman everywhere has had to live with is coming to the surface and being called out. It seems the floodgates are open and we’re hearing about more and more men (and it is mostly men, let’s face it) who have behaved anywhere from inappropriately to downright horrifically. And we know, because we know what we’ve experienced throughout our lifetimes, that this flood is not receding anytime soon.

Let it continue.  Let it expand as it eventually includes all kinds perpetrators, not just those who are high profile. And let it encompass all kinds of behavior, not just the obviously egregious. Because the fact is, sexual harassment comes in many packages, including within the context of a marriage.

For those who worry, is the #MeToo movement going too far? SAS’ response is this form of disrespect and violence has been going on too long and has been, far too insidious. Sexual harassment, as shaming and uncomfortable as it is for the victims, needs to be aired before our society can metabolize the lines of what is “too much.” It’s been too much.

Thanks to gender and power dynamics, victims throughout history have had to keep silent; or if they have spoken out, are labeled and called names for saying the truth. Up until yesterday! Consider how the women who’ve accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment were not taken seriously. Until now. Think of Anita Hill and what she went through.  Think of the women who work in hotels as chambermaids, housekeepers and laborers, what they face everyday and must keep shut up about, because they cannot afford to lose the jobs that support them and their children. It is too much. And not enough. Those who have a voice, a power, must speak out now — not for themselves, but for their daughters, their sons, and all the victims who cannot.

If you look up the definition of sexual harassment, there are variations on a theme but one phrase comes up over and over again, regardless of whether we are talking about sexual harassment in the workplace or not: “Unwelcome advances.”

That was the crux of the matter for me. This is when I was certain that yes, the way my ex behaved did count as sexual harassment. I cannot count the times that I felt uncomfortable in my own marriage bed, times when he would want me to do something or wear something or say something that I was uncomfortable with. All so very unwelcome but my options were to shut up and do it, or ignite a fight that would escalate to epic proportions. So time after time, I put my own wants and needs to the side in an effort to appease and placate him. During those times, I just thought I was compromising, as we all have to do in relationships. But also, deep down those experiences made me feel gross, ashamed, lonely and sad. If he loved me, why would he want me to do things he knew very well made me feel dirty and pained?

I wish I had listened to that little voice that told me it wasn’t okay, that I had every right to stand up for myself. In my particular story, I feel that because I did not find the courage to stand up for myself along the way … because I did not say no nearly often enough … because I implicitly gave him permission to harass me, to do these things to me  … that the onus was on me: I allowed it to escalate. And escalate it did. By the end of our marriage, he was trying to invite strangers home from the bar for a threesome. The day I came home to find the computer open to a notice on a porn site where he was advertising us as a couple interested in orgies, THEN I found the courage to put a stop to it.

If any part of my story resonates with you, please don’t wait around for it to get worse. He will keep pushing the boundaries until he finds that threshold, the place where you are so horrified that you cannot take one more minute. Please don’t wait for that, it could be a long way off and in the meantime you’ll endure, you’ll tolerate, you will suffer. It’s not necessary. It’s not fair and I would argue, it’s not healthy.

This is the beautiful power of the #Metoo movement. As women, as young people, as men, we no longer have to bear this burden alone, with only our inner voice trying to reason with us. We now stand together, with safety in numbers, and if you tell your story to the right people, they will listen.

We recommend you identify someone you feel safe talking to and start there. Can you share with your sister, your best friend, your mom? It feels really good to tell someone, I can attest to that. Then move on to finding a professional who can help you figure out what to do about it. Therapists and divorce coaches are trained to lead you through a process – not to divorce necessarily if this is happening in your marriage; but to decide what to do to address the situation. It may or may not mean splitting up, that remains to be seen. What you do know is that something fundamental has to change. Figure out how you can do that.

Every woman deserves to feel safe, heard and respected in her marriage. It’s the baseline, not a luxury. If you can’t say that’s how you feel in your marriage, we gently urge you to think about that.

If you haven’t already taken us up on our free confidential consultation, we are a safe place to begin — to start hearing feedback on your situation. Married or not, we’ll listen to your story, perhaps share a glimmer of our own stories, and most importantly, offer you perspective and next steps for lightening your heart and head. By the way, your heart and head are often not in synch; and understanding that is part of your process for healing. If you aren’t sure about talking to anyone just yet, start with our website where you can read, watch videos, and take classes, all of which you can do in complete privacy.

We can feel it, your #Metoo moment is coming.

39 Seconds on Dealing with Divorce

Liza and Kim discuss 39 Seconds on Dealing with Divorce

Life after divorce dating can challenge your confidence.

Life After Divorce: 6 Dating Tips on How to Show Up

You might be thinking about dating now that you’ve arrived here in this land of the unknown, your life after divorce; and this particular aspect of it can be intimidating, exciting, and frankly, straight-up terrifying. When my marriage ended I was, or so I thought, eager to start dating, and I set up an online dating profile almost immediately. After matching with someone, we texted for a full week before I was able to go out on an actual date. I felt relatively comfortable the few times we chatted on the phone. He was also newly divorced but had been dating for a few months. However, when the day came of our first date (and my FIRST date in almost 17 years) I was anxiety-ridden! I paced around my apartment fretting about why I shouldn’t be doing this:

“What if I have nothing to talk about?” (which, by the way, has happened NEVER in my life)

“What if I do something embarrassing like trip on my way to the table?” (That might have happened before.)

“What if he tries to KISS ME??!!” (Hmm, scary? Or is that I don’t trust myself?)

I even texted my date to tell him I would probably not be able to make it. Luckily he saw right through my hesitation and eased my worries (– there are compassionate people out there!). I then called a friend who helped talk me off the ledge, and after hanging up the phone, I stared down my reflection in the mirror. I had to rip off the metaphorical band-aid, get my act together and get out the door. I put on some of my favorite music: I needed some serious GIRL POWER music and so I opted for some Rihanna and Beyonce (whom I enjoy now thanks to my two daughters). I put on my new IRO jeans (my best friend convinced me I needed some sexy jeans for my new dating life— the best $200 I ever spent!!) and somehow made it through the date with my self-esteem intact.

Since that day, I’ve spent a LOT of time preparing for dates. My friends tease me that it’s become my hobby (I have to say they aren’t entirely wrong!). Over the course of the past few years as I’ve advanced through my own divorce recovery and gotten to know myself even more,  I’ve honed my craft and have actually begun to truly enjoy dating, to thrill in it even. Dating is a skill that can absolutely be learned, and like a chess game, once you have a few good strategies in place you can begin to feel confident enough to take a few risks. The same can be said about how you choose to dress yourself for dating. Once you have your good reliable, strategies in place you can begin to finesse the details.

Based on my now ample experience, here are the suggestions I most often share with clients and friends who need a little boost as they head out the door to begin their dating journey.

Alyssa’s 6 Tips for Showing Up in Your New Life After Divorce

    1. Start with the fundamentals. Address your foundational pieces. Chances are you are wearing a yellowed bra that is old, stretched out or otherwise ill fitting! I know I was. Go to a good lingerie shop* and have the saleswoman help you find a bra that actually fits AND looks good. You will feel sexier and empowered just knowing you have it on.
    2. Keep it easy. The day or evening of a first date is not the time to reinvent the wheel. Create a date “uniform” where you have, for example, great fitting jeans, a comfortable pair of boots (see below), your new well-fitting, but sexy,bra and just swap out different tops.
    3. Treat yourself to one new thing: a perfect pair of jeans, a new great pair of boots (with a little lift of heel to make you feel taller), a new haircut, or even some highlights.  One key element of getting through your first date (and thereafter in your new and empowered, life after divorce) is feeling good about yourself because, after all, self-confidence is attractive. “Look good feel good” is an old saying that still holds true. If you feel like you look great you will feel great and more confident.
    4. Accessorize: remember that most first dates are sitting next to or across from someone. Mostly what your date is seeing is your top and jewelry. A simple top and some favorite jewelry or an interesting top and minimal accessories.
    5. Never show up on a date in shoes you can’t walk in! You’ll want to feel comfortable enough to take a leisurely romantic stroll or head on to a new adventure should your date take on a life of its own. But obviously you want to feel good in them (i.e. sexy) so don’t go too far on the comfort level. Leave the “sensible” shoes at the office.
    6. HAVE FUN. This is not a styling tip but just a “life after divorce” tip. Seriously, this should be a fun experience! This time around, you’re not 20 something full of insecurities. You’re not (necessarily) looking for a life partner. You can use this opportunity to learn more about yourself and whom you want to spend time with. You can try new things: go to concerts, try new foods, visit a neighborhood you’ve never explored, and open your mind to exciting opportunities.

After a few months, the most important thing I learned is that I wasn’t “just a wife and mother.” I rediscovered my femininity and also my sexuality (another blog post entirely!). I had a client, who after working with me said, “I would walk down the street and feel invisible before, and now I feel a new vitality that was dormant for so long. I forgot what it felt like.” I definitely relate to that and know many other women who have experienced similar revelations. My advice is to not overthink it and just enjoy your newfound freedom. Try to see dating as a way to connect with new people and finding your inner glow and fun side again.

 

*If you are in the New York Metro area, email me at [email protected] for my favorites.

Alyssa Dineen has been a New York City stylist for close to 20 years. She has worked with all different personalities, body types and budgets and knows how to help you stay relevant and current while still feeling like yourself — the best version of yourself. Get in touch today to find the styling package that suits you best www.stylemyprofilenyc.com.