Woman looking at painting

The 10 Most Common Reasons for Divorce

Divorce is never an easy decision to come to. Sometimes you might feel like you’re being too emotional, or, on the flip side, that you’re being too pragmatic and ignoring your feelings about your partner. In all honesty, there is no right or wrong, no single or compounded, no practical over emotional, no emotional over practical reason for getting a divorce. Each divorce is unique, and each situation leading up to divorce is unique.

If you’re actively considering divorce or beginning to see the signs that a divorce might be in your future, this post may help you find clarity in a storm of emotions and thoughts. Despite the uniqueness of every relationship, there are some common overarching themes people cite when going into a divorce that cause two people to be unable to move forward in a relationship.

Below are the most common reasons for divorce. We define common or practical reasons for divorce as ones that may not (though sometimes can) affect your emotional attachment to your partner but make the viability of the marriage unlikely.

1. Finances

When you married your partner, money didn’t seem like a big deal. You were probably both broke and young. Practicality comes with age—or, does it? If your partner is in massive debt and that debt is making it impossible for you to do practical things like buying a car, getting a loan on a house, or being approved for credit cards, your relationship may not have a future. If you have a partner willing to take steps to change this—to get an extra job or cut back massively on spending in order to move out of this debt—that’s one thing. But if your partner is completely unwilling to take fiscal responsibility or just won’t grow up and pay their bills, it’s time to find someone more responsible with their money.

2. Sexual incompatibility

Yes, this might seem like it would fit under emotional reasons, but sex is a real physical need and two partners with mismatched libidos or mismatched expectations can lead to an extremely unhappy marriage. When one partner’s idea of normal sexual activity is once a month and the other’s is once a week, that leads to emotional problems like resentment, insecurity, and withdrawal from intimacy. Now this isn’t to say that one partner should be more or less demanding, simply that a mismatch makes for a rocky, and sometimes irreconcilable, marriage.

3. Lack of equality

This isn’t to say that people who follow classic gender roles in their marriage (a stay-at-home mother, for example, and a husband who works) is an unequal situation that will lead to divorce; rather, that one partner in the relationship takes on the brunt of the physical, emotional, or financial burdens with little return so the relationship starts to feel one-sided in one (if not all) of these areas. Are you always planning the dates? Are you the only one paying the bills on time with little to no contribution from your partner? Does your partner ask for emotional support but offers you none? Then you are experiencing a lack of equality, and if things don’t change, a one-sided relationship isn’t one that should continue.

4. Long distance

This one is especially hard because it’s not as if your feelings for your partner have changed, just your proximity. Your partner got a new job. You got a new job. They are on the East Coast and you are on the west, with no chance of reuniting for years down the line. Yes, there are vacations. Yes, you can talk on the phone or Skype together a few times a week. But your partner won’t be there to hold you at night and that matters. For a short period of time with an end in sight, long distance is durable, but when it’s open-ended, it might be better to find a partner who’s in your locale.

5. Physical and emotional abuse

The physical and emotional abuser is, overall, clever with how they treat you. They can break you down but keep your attraction and love for them intact by giving just enough warmth and affection when you are down to make sure your feelings for them never change—or get deeper. Let us be clear here: if your partner is gaslighting and emotionally abusing you, if your partner is physically laying their hands on you, this relationship needs to end. Abuse is abuse, period. This isn’t the easiest thing to do, but take whatever steps necessary to get away from your abuser and find safety before filing for divorce.

6. Mixed religions and little compromise

Some conversations should really happen before marriage, and they don’t. Like whether you will your kids as Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or Protestant in a mixed-religion marriage. And even when those conversations did happen, it could be that one or both partners were simply hearing what they wanted and figured that later, the other partner would convert or give way. Religion is one really hard compromise to make if neither partner is willing to, and that makes sense: your religion and their religion is important. If counseling isn’t working, if neither side can agree, then it might be time to find a partner who does know how to compromise.

7. Addictions

We all change over time, but addictions change partners in ways we don’t expect. And this isn’t just addiction to drugs—people can be addicted to video games, work, and even seemingly innocent activities like keeping pets. If one pet turns into five, your partner begs you to start a rescue, and one day you wake up with twenty dogs who are poorly-kept in a house covered in hair, you’re living with an animal hoarder. If your once loving partner gets a new job and works five, ten, twenty, to thirty hours of overtime a week with no sign of cutting back, your partner has just become addicted to working.

This is a fundamental change to the foundation and function of your relationship, and you’re right to question if this relationship should continue if something completely out of the blue comes along and completely changes your way of life with your partner.

8. Trust issues

Early on in your relationship, your partner’s trust issues made sense—their Ex cheated on them, for example. You put up with the text messages while you were hanging out with your friends to check up on you. You were okay with them tagging along to events they weren’t specifically invited to because they didn’t want you going alone. But you’ve proven yourself. You’ve never lied, and you’ve never cheated. You’ve given your partner no reason to distrust you, yet you are under constant surveillance. This relationship isn’t salvageable if there’s no trust at the marriage’s foundation, and you’ve done all you can to prove that you are trustworthy.

9. Mismatched parenting styles

Your partner prefers you be the disciplinarian but won’t back you up on your discipline. Or, maybe you prefer time-outs with a stern explanation of what your child or children did wrong, and your partner prefers taking away toys or access to the TV. Maybe you want your children to work towards an allowance by doing chores, and your partner’s idea of an allowance is that it’s automatic. These are all fairly benign yet varying styles that can lead to multiple fights in child rearing—but there are more extreme examples out there, like one parent not wanting a gun in the home while the other wants their child to go shooting regularly. When it comes to raising kids, if you aren’t on the same page, it can lead to rocky marriages that shouldn’t continue.

10. Family interference

The in-laws were never a dream—you knew that. But what you didn’t realize was that your partner was never going to grow a backbone and stand up to them. So now your mother-in-law rules over all your holidays, constantly pops over and comments on your housekeeping, and generally belittles you with little or no defense from your spouse. It’s not always the in-laws, sometimes it could be your partner’s sibling who’s going through a rough time, is charged with a crime, is an alcoholic or drug addict and just needs a place to stay, and your partner is fully on board with supporting them while you aren’t sure about bringing them into your home. If your partner lets their family get in the way of your relationship and never stands up for you, your wants, and your needs as a couple, it might be time to end this relationship.

Remember, the reasons for divorce listed above are only the most common and by no means the only reasons women seek a divorce. Sometimes the reasons someone seeks a divorce are less pragmatic and tangible, stemming from deep-rooted insecurities or the stark truth that they’ve grown apart from their partner. Whatever your reasons, they can be difficult to come to terms with on your own, and too many women spend far too long feeling stuck somewhere in between—knowing they need to make a change in their life but not what that change should look like for them. At the very least, we hope this list makes you feel seen. You’re not alone, and you deserve to live life on your own terms.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. For a strategic education and emotional support now, consider Annie’s Group, our virtual divorce support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Schedule your 15-minute chat to learn if this education is right for you, where you are in your life, and most importantly, where you want to go.

How to recover from a divorce break up if you feel abandoned.

Divorce: How to Get Over a Breakup When You Feel Abandoned

Often when you are reading about divorce and the woman’s perspective, many stories assume that the woman was unhappy and that she was the one who left the marriage. The research supports this, that women initiate divorce more often than men. And at SAS, we certainly work with women who feel and act on this. But let’s not hide the fact that for many other women, you’re not the one who wanted the divorce. You did not initiate this.

  • You might have been thinking it, but he acted first.
  • Or you knew things weren’t great, but you never thought it would come to this.
  • Or, you’ve been blindsided.

In any of these scenarios, but especially the last two, you don’t feel so empowered.

You feel betrayed, left, rejected, abandoned. This is a traumatic experience. When your husband*, the man you committed your life to, is doing the abandoning, the feelings welling up inside you may seem insurmountable. But they are surmountable. You need to hear this, you can heal.  But it’s not going happen today. It will be a process. Right now, you need perspective, support, and to know that you are not alone. There are women who’ve experienced this trauma, too, and know what you are feeling. These women want you to know your healing process will not look the same as that of women who left their husbands. In this piece, we’ll discuss how to get over such a trauma, a breakup of epic weight. Your marriage.

Let’s begin by saying you may find yourself unsure of how to start, how to move forward in your now (or soon to be) independent life. How can you forget about him? How can you begin again? How can you trust again? Are you worthy of being loved?  Being abandoned or rejected would suggest you are not. This truth seems to cut to the heart of your being.

Dealing with the aftermath, the grief

Some people think of grief as a process connected only to death, but it’s a natural reaction to loss of any kind. Grief is what happens when the familiar is broken, when we reach out for someone only to find their essence gone.  They are absent. When we’ve been abandoned by someone we love, all of our feelings—abandoned, angry, betrayed, struck, shocked, sad—tend to converge and ebb and flow in a wave of emotions we desperately attempt to pick through and make sense of.

You must be with these emotions.  You must let them ebb and flow. They exist for good reason. You need to pick through, process, and give meaning to them. You must mourn.

When your husband said “I want a divorce,” the first wave hit. You might have felt, or continue to feel shock. You might feel numb. You might not be able to sleep through the night, or remember the last time you were hungry. You might think you didn’t hear him right. He was talking about the neighbors, they’re getting a divorce. It can’t be you. Doesn’t make sense, what do you know about the world, if you don’t even know the man you’ve committed your life to? Yesterday, you felt safe. Today, your legs just got kicked out from underneath you.

The thing about grief is that you might also feel none of these things. There is nothing about grief that is universal.

What we do know is that unresolved grief is real, tragic, and avoidable.

Refusing to explore those questions—Who can I trust? Am I worthy? Why do I feel like my right arm was just cut off?—by believing that time will heal all your wounds will not serve you.

When you don’t process your grief, you simply make it a part of your story. This results in your building walls between yourself and the rest of the world in an effort to protect you from ever being hurt again. This stunts you. You prevent yourself from experiencing anything deep and meaningful, even happiness.

Figuring out how to get over a breakup is different for every woman

Even if you understand rationally that you must metabolize your grief—the future can still seem lonely and it can be difficult to find direction and especially, to find yourself after divorce. Especially because, people don’t understand you. They want the best for you. They say things like, “You’re so much better off without HIM! Now get yourself out there, Girl, and have some fun! Meet some good guys who are going to appreciate you.”

And you have no interest.  No interest of any sort because you’re still spinning from the shock and trauma of being left.  The divorce document may be signed, or because of your pain, it’s hard for you to focus (so the divorce is actually being drawn out). But this grief you are feeling is nonlinear. Maybe you still love him.

First and foremost, you must give yourself time to grieve and to complete your grieving. There are steps to your divorce recovery, which will help you clear your path after heartbreak, but understand everyone’s timeline is different. You might feel ready to go out to social events like you used to as a couple in three months or six months or two years time. You may decide you will never do anything like you used to, and this includes those kind of social events you and your Ex went to. You may or may not ever wish to date again either.

Whatever amount of time you feel is right should be the amount of time you allow yourself to do what you want to do.

Putting yourself first

You begin by putting yourself first. You must recover YOU. When you were in your marriage, your “I” and “me” become “us” and “we.” For so long, Friday nights weren’t for you but about spending time with the family or going out or staying in with your partner. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself “What do I want to do?” and then go do it. It’s really that simple. And that hard.

Think about things you’ve always wanted to do, like go on a retreat, volunteer somewhere, or take a painting class. Can you even remember what used to turn you on? You can, if you give yourself the time to think about what still excites you, what calls you, what opens your eyes?

Sometimes it’s hard to get started, and at first, you might feel selfish about “finding yourself.” But this is your job now. By pursuing your own wants and interests it’s not about abandoning your family, or responsibilities, or habits—it’s about taking stock of one’s life now. What activities, people, behaviors no longer serve you? What new things, goals, and endeavors are calling you to explore and follow through with?

Discover yourself more by getting outside yourself

Finding yourself means looking for yourself and looking at yourself in different ways. Resilience studies show that people are more resilient—they recover from traumatic events more effectively than others—when they have strong support networks of people to help them cope with crisis. So surround yourself with those who love and care for you.

However, you can achieve an even bigger boost of resilience by offering support to others.

This sounds counter-intuitive, like the last thing you’d want to do when you are feeling tapped out and kicked to the curb. But any way you can reach out and help other people is a way of moving outside yourself and your story.  This gives you perspective and cultivates your sense of empathy and connectedness with others. It helps you feel meaningful and purposeful. This does not necessarily mean volunteering for two years with the Peace Corps but aligning yourself with a mission outside your own personal trauma. The mission must have meaning to you and make you want to push through adversity on its behalf. 

The importance of finding support

If you feel like you need help, though, ask for it. Surviving loneliness after divorce can be a constant battle. Certain friends or family members, specific types of divorce groups, and professionals who understand the process like therapists and divorce coaches can help you heal. It’s okay to cry or wallow for a while. Maybe your Ex isn’t worth your tears, but the loss of the marriage, the magnitude of that shared identity, the comfortable life style you enjoyed, is what the pain is about. Maybe you need to mourn the fantasy that was your marriage or the time you invested in it trying to make it work. If you feel like you’re in pain, let yourself be with the pain in a safe place. Just don’t get lost in your pain and suffering and start looking for an easy way out—ask for help navigating your way through it.

Support can be especially important if you are navigating divorce—the legal and financial process—at the same time you are flooded with emotions of denial or rejection. Hitting pause to heal may not be possible for you right now. And that’s okay, because after the document is negotiated, you will be better positioned to focus on yourself. That is really the best time to come to terms with your emotional loss.

During divorce

If the divorce is happening now, you must get your game face on and consider the negotiation (as much as possible) as a business transaction. You cannot afford to be make legal and financial decisions from your wounded heart or from your sense of injustice (you never saw this coming, damnit! He should pay! He’s been living a double life fooling around with this other woman?) Why? Because looking for justice for your broken heart is never going to happen legally. And it will definitely cost you more—more money, more time, and, especially, more pain.

Divorce coaches can help you understand what to do with your heart as you face the black and white logistics of divorce. They understand the emotions and what you must do with them. They may even help you learn to rehabilitate and reframe those feelings we most often associate with shame, anger or weakness.

After divorce

Time can help with the wounds, but time alone will not heal them. You must do something. Take time to understand what you are healing from and to really be with those feelings. After you go through the grieving process, which is part of the healing process, a lot of those initial feelings that came with being dumped—abandonment, betrayal, rejection and feeling like you can never love again—will fade and be replaced with a newfound sense of who you are: independent and resilient.

Let’s not forget you are human. You may be scarred, but those scars will be less fragile and new—your skin will be thicker and tougher—as you move into the next chapter in your life. Those scars will talk of living, loving, recovering, and recreating.

There is no magic formula to help you recover from a breakup as momentous as divorce…But if you take time to understand what the journey of divorce really looks like and what you must do to legally protect yourself, you will give yourself the space and time to lean into your emotions and to learn what this story of loss means for you. You will reclaim you. You will heal.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, practical and oft times complicated experience of divorce and reinvention. If you are looking for perspective, validation, and healthy next steps, we invite you to schedule your free 45-minute, private consultation with SAS. Whether you work further with us or not, we promise you’ll learn a resource or two as you begin clearing the debris and perceiving what else is genuinely possible. 

*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”

Divorce and depression

Divorce and Depression: What to Look for and How to Cope

Divorce and depression are inseparable for almost everyone. The ending of—or even the thought of ending—your marriage is incredibly sad because it’s the death of your dreams of being happy together and basking in the love you thought you had found.

But depression caused by divorce is not the same as what we commonly think of as depression. It even has a different name. It’s called situational depression.

Situational depression is typically short-term and a stress response to a specific event or situation. Relationship problems are some of the most common causes, so it’s easy to understand how divorce and depression go hand in hand.

Another thing to keep in mind is that situational depression differs from other types of depression in that it’s never just biologically or psychologically based. There is a specific event or situation at the root of those feelings.

But knowing the technical difference between divorce-induced situational depression and other types of depression doesn’t really change the realities of either. For most people, the experience of situational depression and other types are indistinguishable from one another.

Take a look at some of the more common symptoms of situational depression:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to enjoy normal activities
  • Crying
  • Consistently feeling stressed out or worried
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Trouble doing daily activities
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Avoiding social interactions
  • Ignoring important matters like paying bills or going to work
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

There’s nothing in this list that is exclusive to situational depression and not to other types of depression.

But there’s one thing that’s very important to remember when you’re dealing with divorce and depression: situational depression is the result of a specific event or stress, and that means you can do something about it.

Before jumping into what you can do though, it’s also important to recognize how depression might be affecting you while you’re on your divorce journey—because it can be so easy to ignore the symptoms or chalk them up to something (or, someone) else.

Thinking about Divorce

Even before you start thinking about divorce as a solution to your marital problems, you could be struggling with situational depression.

You might have trouble connecting with or even wanting to connect with your spouse. You might constantly feel stressed out or worried. And you might be forgetting things that you normally wouldn’t. This is often how situational depression first appears when you’re having relationship troubles.

Coping with Divorce

If you’re coping with divorce, it can be fairly easy to identify your symptoms of depression from the list above. However, the symptom that is the most frightening to experience is thoughts of suicide.

For most people dealing with divorce and depression, thoughts of suicide are way outside of their normal experience. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that something must be very wrong if you’re having thoughts like this.

What I want you to know is that these thoughts are very common. If you can easily recognize them as thoughts that you’d never act on, then there’s nothing more to do. However, if thoughts of suicide become more persistent or you start making plans, then you need to reach out for support immediately or call 911.

There’s absolutely no reason for you to struggle with divorce and depression on your own.

Recreating after Divorce

One of the surprising times people can still struggle with divorce and depression is when they’re recreating after divorce. Even in the midst of creating a life you love, you can still struggle with situational depression.  And if you are someone who never wanted the divorce to begin with, your recovery after divorce can be especially painful.

You might be triggered by hearing a certain song. You might experience waves of sadness and difficulty when the date of your anniversary rolls around. This is all a normal part of the healing journey.

How to Deal with Divorce and Depression

Regardless of where you are on your divorce journey, there are things you can do to ease the pain and struggle of your situational depression.

Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:

Exercise regularly

Exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym or a yoga studio. It can be as simple as going for a walk or dancing to your favorite song. Exercise is about moving your entire body in ways that you normally wouldn’t.

Exercise helps with situational depression because it puts your focus and attention on your body. When you’re focused on keeping your balance, lifting weights, or just putting one foot in front of the other, you’re not dwelling on your pain. When you have a respite from your depression, you will find it easier to deal with the challenges of your life as you process your thoughts about and experience of divorce.

Get more rest, relaxation, and sleep

Believe it or not, it takes a lot of energy to deal with divorce and depression. Yet many people believe that the way to get through it all is by staying active and “putting their life back together.”

If this is you, then allowing yourself time to rest, relax, and sleep will help you pause and replenish your energy. Don’t use the time to dwell on the pain you’re experiencing or as an excuse to not move your body. Rest, relaxation, and sleep are about replenishing your energy, so you can move through the depression and on to making the decisions you need to make and living your life.

Eat healthy snacks and meals

Ever heard of the divorce diet? It’s common for people to lose their appetite when they’re coping with divorce and depression.

Although it’s easy to turn to junk food because it’s convenient and tasty, your best bet for helping yourself heal is to focus on eating healthy snacks and meals. When you make healthy choices, you’re providing your body with the food it needs to function well.

Talk with your doctor about medication

If your symptoms are getting in the way of you taking care of your everyday responsibilities and activities, you should talk with your doctor. She can prescribe medication to help you cope with your divorce journey.

Reach out for help

You don’t have to go through your divorce journey alone. There are plenty of people who are able and willing to help you put the pieces of your life together in a way that makes the most sense for you. Of course, these people include your family and friends. But they also include helping professionals like therapists and divorce coaches.

Consider reading: “How to Get Through a Divorce and Heal: The Surprising X Factor of a Divorce Coach”

Remember, reaching out for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of tremendous strength because you know what you need the most and you’re willing to bravely look for help.

Divorce and depression are inseparable for nearly everyone. That’s because relationship problems are often the cause of situational depression.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do about it. You can cope with the depression you feel by accepting it and then acting … doing some fairly simple things and securing the help you need.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while navigating the divorce experience and striving to recover and rebuild. SAS offers women six FREE months of private email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future self.

“Step forth. It’s okay if you fall. Life — your life — is calling you.” SAS Cofounder, Liza Caldwell

 

Freezing your eggs

Freezing Your Eggs in the Event of Divorce

Change is a reality. Sometimes, we want to embrace it to help us grow and mature while other times change comes at the worst possible moments and in the worst possible ways. Just when we think we have a handle on how things should and will go, everything goes off-kilter.

When you were growing up, you may have thought you knew just how your perfect family was going to be and anticipated the day when you would buy little booties or prepare a nursery for your first baby. Finally, you meet a guy who you’re pretty sure you want to tie the knot with forever.

However, there is a small voice inside your head that thinks maybe it’s best to spend a few years with him before making the decision to tangle your DNA and procreate.

Time passes, and it’s easy to get caught up in the daily realities of not only maintaining a healthy relationship but a successful home economy, which could dissuade you from starting a family if you’re still just getting by financially. But you’re also very aware of your body’s gradual changes.

Then, somewhere along the way, you start having more serious doubts. What if your husband isn’t “the one,” after all? If you’re considering divorce, do you even have time to have a baby?

Will you have to settle for a bad relationship just to experience motherhood, even if that means being unhappy?

Freezing your eggs could give you more choices

Fortunately, technological innovations are providing a welcomed solution to put the fears of any women feeling even a fraction of these emotions at ease. In recent years, there has been an increasing number of women electing to freeze their eggs as a kind of insurance plan, just in case the need or desire to have a child comes later in life — or with someone new.

In some cases, women are also opting to have children on their own. Divorce can lead women to feel as though they’d rather build a family without a spouse, and freezing your eggs has made that entirely possible. An Australian fertility doctor recently noted that of the 50 people that add themselves to the sperm donor wait list at his clinic every month, approximately half are women looking to pursue parenthood alone.

However, even in this scenario, the so-called clock still ticks, and therefore, women must act sooner than later if they want to preserve viable eggs. “Women who harvest eggs between 32 and 35 years of age have up to a 50% chance of pregnancy,” says resident expert Doctor Amos, adding that this percentage decreases significantly as the years go on.

The financial concerns surrounding freezing your eggs

So as women with marital issues consider this option and feel pressure to start preparations, they encounter a new set of doubts. Is freezing your eggs actually affordable as a newly divorced woman? Especially if you spent many years unemployed as someone’s wife?

This situation became a legal reality in 2013 in the case of a 38-year-old New Jersey woman who was divorcing her husband of eight years. As part of her divorce settlement, her lawyer sought $20,000 to cover “her egg freezing procedure, medication costs, and several years of egg storage” based on her expectation upon getting married that she would have children. Egg preservation has even become a part of alimony settlements.

The legal realities surrounding freezing your eggs

It needs to be said that while technology has enabled women to improve their ability to have children later in life, it can come with legal obstacles, depending on how the procedure was completed.

If the woman in a relationship froze her eggs, legally, the situation of the New Jersey women cited above would likely stand. However, if the woman were to instead freeze a fertilized embryo, the case takes on a new property ownership aspect.

Courts have been dealing with this new legal scenario by ruling that both parties who provided DNA to a fertilized embryo have ownership of that embryo. This often means that neither of those involved can use it without the permission of the other. Similarly, they cannot destroy them.

The former spouse of actress Sofia Vergara sued to “prevent her from destroying their two female embryos.” So, it’s important to consider which type of freezing procedure you desire if you’re considering divorce.

Change happens, and we can prepare for it. Technology has advanced to the point where women in unhappy marriages can choose divorce without it ending their dream of having a family.

However, these women must bear in mind the cost of their choices, both financially and legally, before making their decisions. If freezing your eggs is a choice you make, then the end of one dream doesn’t necessarily mean the end to another.

 

Christopher Barry is a freelance writer with decades of experience covering health and wellness topics. He has been featured on a number of reputable sites such as Vice, Maxim, The National Post, and many other large publications.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Schedule your free 45-minute consultation with SAS. Tell us confidentially what’s going on and we’ll give you black & white feedback, resources and suggestions for your next steps (regardless of your working further with us or not). 

Woman struggling with leaving an abusive marriage

Leaving an Abusive Marriage? There Are Steps You Need to Take First

Abuse doesn’t always look the way we imagine it. No bruises are required for the abuse to be real, and you don’t need “proof” for your pain to be valid. But when it comes to protecting yourself legally and leaving an abusive marriage, it’s an unfortunate fact that both those things hold weight.

We know what physical abuse looks like because it leaves a mark, but verbal and emotional abuse are harder to detect and often go unreported. Emotional abuse might mean insulting you, making threats against you or your loved ones, controlling you, repeatedly accusing you of being unfaithful, or belittling you. Your spouse might go out of the way to destroy your self-esteem or tell you things like, “No one else but me would put up with you.”

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender can be a victim—or perpetrator—of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together, or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish, or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation. Many of these forms of domestic violence/abuse can occur at any time within the same intimate relationship.

Once you’ve finally accepted what abuse looks like in your own marriage and that you’ll no longer put up with it, leaving is easier said than done.

You spouse is, after all, abusive—his* sense of self is tied up with his control over you. Even if you aren’t being physically threatened, it’s not entirely clear what your spouse is capable of.

Hell, it’s not entirely clear what you’re capable of. Are you strong enough to leave him? Are you strong enough to stand on your own two feet? You no longer know anymore.

You do know, though, that he will do everything in his power to make sure you never find out your strength.

If you plan on leaving an abusive marriage, there are some steps you’ll need to take first.

The following is based on my personal experience leaving an abusive marriage. Because it was so difficult, I want other women to know certain things. Among them is the importance of finding out what your rights are and what your choices are, legally.

You must know what’s legally enforceable, so you can be prepared and protect yourself. Sometimes there is no time to consult with an attorney. Instead, you must act, so you call the police. Other times, you simply think about making that call. What will be the impact of calling the police . . . for you, for your spouse, and for the kids? Find out first so that if it comes to that—and it may come to that—you are prepared and can protect yourself and your children.

Believe in yourself

Abusers are master manipulators, so the first thing you must do to protect yourself from your spouse is believe in yourself.

This can be hard, but as a “Millie,” a SAS for Women colleague (now working as a divorce attorney), shared, beginning to believe in yourself might look like reaching out to those who genuinely love you. For Millie, she realizes now how important it was for her to ultimately tell her most trusted friends and family what was really going on in her marriage:

“My first husband was an addict and I kept ‘our’ dirty secret to myself because I was so embarrassed at my poor choice in a husband. I isolated myself by making my Ex’s bad behavior associated with me. Once I finally left and then told everyone, the support was tremendous. I wasn’t judged as I thought I would be.”

No matter how hard your spouse works at planting seeds of doubt in your mind, you must grow vigilant and stubborn in your belief in yourself.

  1. Connect with safe friends, if possible.
  2. Work with a good therapist and be truthful with them.
  3. Find a certified coach experienced in supporting people like you—people who are striving to change their circumstances.
  4. Consult with an attorney to learn what your rights are and what steps you can take to protect yourself.

But ultimately, you’ll need to find the courage to leave within yourself.

Protect your finances

Abusers often use money to control their partner. If you don’t control your own money—if you don’t even have access to it or if that access can easily be taken away—you don’t have the financial security you need to leave your spouse.

If you don’t already have a bank account of your own, get one. Set your PIN to something your spouse will never guess, and if all else fails, get a credit card.

Ask a lawyer what you can do to put things in place to protect yourself. Talk to a certified divorce financial advisor to hear their suggestions. (Having that discussion doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get divorced, and everything you talk about is confidential.)

Gather proof

Perhaps you don’t want things to get nasty (or nastier) or you are not sure you want to divorce, but just in case you must leave, there are different types of evidence you can gather to make a case for spousal abuse, such as photographs of injuries or broken property, documentation of emails or text messages, and testimonies from witnesses. Videos are sometimes permissible depending on what state you live in. Research your state’s laws on videotaping without permission of the subject.

When gathering evidence, try to simplify it as much as possible, but make sure to note down the time and date the abuse occurred. One way to do this is to write emails to yourself because the emails have a valid date/time stamp. The documentation is also stored in a cloud and thus safe from an abuser finding notes, photos, etc. and destroying them. The emails can be as simple as “At 8:43 p.m. Tom called me a fat bitch and that I was lucky that he didn’t leave me,” or “Tom came home at 11:35 p.m. and smelled very strongly of alcohol and pot.”

Start documenting now. It is hard to go back and track and trace. Women have a high tolerance for pain and an uncanny ability to forget it afterward. Think about it, we’d never give birth a second time if we could really recall the extent of that first experience! So, while the memory of your pain is alive, you must keep an ongoing record of it—as brutal as that sounds.

Note from SAS for Women: If you are in the planning mode, we encourage you to consult with an attorney to hear what you should be documenting as relates specifically to your situation and what your choices are to change things. What happens if you call the police during an incident? What would be expected of you afterward (going to the courthouse and filing the complaint officially)? What would happen to your spouse? You need to understand the process and what the impact of each step you take will be.

Truth be told, it’s when filing at the courthouse that most women cave . . . somehow everything starts to feel real there. You don’t want to “hurt your spouse,” you start thinking to yourself. You withdraw your complaint. As a result, your problem almost never goes away.

File a report

The fact is, reporting and filing instances of abuse to the police gives you a report, and having this report available could do much to prove your case.

If you’re truly in fear for your safety, this should be your first course of action (besides gathering proof). You can also go to your town’s family court, or if you live in New York City, for example, the New York Family Court, and request an order of protection.

It’s best to note down at least three instances when your spouse endangered or caused you to fear for your life and safety, with one being very recent. This is where your ongoing record keeping plays an important role.

With filing, be as authentic as possible, and never lie—you don’t want to do anything that destroys your case. You’ll fill out a form, wait to see a judge, and based on the evidence and testimonies, the judge will either grant or reject the order of protection. You can also bring along your attorney to fight on your behalf. The order of protection will restrict your spouse from communicating with you directly.

Note from SAS for Women: Filing an order of protection will also mean your spouse will have to leave the family home and live somewhere else.

Know that. Make sure you understand how your spouse will learn about the order of protection. Where will you be when he does? What happens after? Do you need to go home and make sure some friends come over, or do you not go home at all? You need to learn about each step, so you can imagine what your spouse will do at each juncture and plan accordingly. Consulting with an attorney is very important.

Hire an attorney

You want an attorney with a track record in divorce or separation from abusive spouses. This attorney must be available at any time and want to protect you. She will become a line of defense against your spouse. An abusive spouse may become enraged that you have taken back control of your body and mind—that you have reclaimed your integrity—and continue to lash out. But you’re doing the right thing. Hold steady. Your lawyer is good if she makes you feel protected and strengthened.

Chances are a divorce agreement may be in your future, and if it is, in that document you will want to separate yourself from your spouse in every way possible—financially, personally, and physically. Review with your lawyer and try to limit as much as (legally) possible your spouse’s rights to your apartment, car, insurance, registration, and will. Anything and everything you can think of. Review all things thoroughly with your lawyer. Ask your lawyer about the legal consequences if your spouse does not comply.

Stow away what’s important to you

There are legal documents that are important for you to gather before you leave, things like social security cards, birth certificates, insurance policies, copies of deeds, proof of income, bank statements, and more. When abuse is physical, there’s not always a “perfect” time to leave. Your escape might feel more like fleeing. What, if anything, are you prepared to leave behind?

Just in case, have a getaway plan

Find a safe place to stay, and get familiar with your husband’s schedule. When will he be out of the house? You’ve thought of the children’s schedule, no doubt, but have you made plans for the family pet? Abusers often use a pet or children as leverage against a spouse to blackmail them.

If you have kids, talk to a lawyer or the police before taking them anywhere.

Don’t rely on your phone to memorize escape routes or the phone numbers of the people or organizations you’ll need to call for help.

You might even want to establish a “code word” to let your family, friends, and anyone else who you can call for help know that you need them without letting your abuser know.

Local shelters are sometimes able to escort victims of spousal abuse from the home when they move out. Or perhaps, if you must leave the family home, you might have a couple of strong friends who can support you that difficult day.

What to do after leaving an abusive marriage

Leaving is a hard step, but after you leave, it’s important to stay on the alert. Change up your routine. If you have a new address, request that the DMV withhold your ID from the public, though they may make it available to institutions like banks. Request that the Family Court withhold your address from divorce documents.

Try to fight the temptation to isolate yourself because that’s when you’re the most vulnerable. Remember, isolation was how your spouse controlled you. The humiliation and shame you might still feel after leaving—it’s what your spouse is banking on. He wants you to believe that no one else “understands” you quite the way he does. And no one ever will.

But you are not alone.

In the US, nearly half of all women and men have experienced psychological aggression (emotional abuse) by an intimate partner in their lifetime. But because the abuse happens behind closed doors, it’s so easy to think of yourself as the outlier. If you don’t have a friend, family member, therapist, coach, lawyer, or someone else in your life you can talk to, you can and must look for professional help. You can also try calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) to discuss your situation and be connected with resources that exist for a very good reason.

You do have strength. We believe in you.

Isabel Sadurni is a motion picture producer with over 15 years’ experience in filmmaking. She collaborates on feature films and series with independent and commercial filmmakers who share the belief that a story told well can change the world. Her work includes award-winning feature-length documentaries and short narratives that have played in top-tier festivals and on HBO, PBS, and The Discovery Channel. Her focus is in working on films that are vehicles for change for people, for communities, and for the planet. 

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, 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.” – SAS for Women 

 

*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as a “he.”

35 divorce books on divorce for your head and heart

35 Best Books on Divorce: How to Think Smart and Protect Your Heart

Are you in that awful place of looking to teach yourself about divorce? Do you want to help your children with the gut-wrenching issue? Or have you a friend who is going through an especially grueling break up and you’d like to support her/him with several books on divorce, speaking to their specific circumstances? Your instincts are good. Divorce is hard to understand and get a handle on, mostly because it’s not just one thing happening, but an ongoing process of things to navigate, consider, decide about, and heal from. Depending on who you are and what stage of divorce you or your friend is going through, divorce can impact a person in many different ways. And while divorce coaching and support groups can be empowering and healing mechanisms, sometimes the privacy of reading books is a more comfortable start. Thank goodness we live in this modern age, where now more than ever, there exists extensive guides, workbooks and how-to books on divorce and especially, divorce recovery.

That said, how do you choose the right books on divorce? It’s not like the subject is pleasure reading, or as if you had all the time in the world.

That’s where we come in. Throughout the course of our divorce coaching practice, we’ve often been asked if we can recommend “the right book.” So below is our list of the best books on divorce.

Whether you’re an avid reader, a loving parent, a thoughtful friend, a gung-ho problem solver, or someone looking for help with a specific aspect to divorce (splitting from a narcissist, perhaps?), you’ll find our seasoned recommendations for the best books on divorce below. Among all of them, you’ll find an emphasis on navigating your divorce not only smartly, but healthily. And if you are looking to be distracted from your situation and inspired by heroines who suffered and survived, we’ve got you covered there, too. We want you to know the right books for inspiration and distraction; for it is our wish you will find something that points to hope in your story, too.

Beginning the Process of Divorce

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71jncarvagL.jpg 1. Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. Should you try to save your marriage or is it un-saveable? From the inside, it can be really hard to tell. Kirshenbaum’s book helps you ask questions of yourself so you come to understand and navigate which sins are forgivable and which ones are deadly. This book, a new “classic” is highly recommended by SAS for Women for those who keep asking themselves what’s the criteria for staying or to go?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/514u5MgMSfL.jpg 2. Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger. Are you having problems making sense of the chaos that is your marriage? Do you feel manipulated, controlled, lied to, or the focus of intense, violent, and/or irrational rages by your partner? Your partner may have borderline personality disorder and the decision to live with or leave that relationship can be even more complex than others’ experience. This book, highly recommended by SAS for Women, is important for those confused by their “reality.”

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41RyV-G0PnL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 3. Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Ever After by Katherine Woodward Thomas. No matter what the reason behind your divorce, moving on can be difficult. In this step-by-step guide, Katherine aids her readers in finding peace through five steps. SAS for Women loves this book for it giving you permission to reframe divorce on your terms. You can break up in a more meaningful, thoughtful and compassionate way.

 

Using Your Head While You Divorce

Divorce Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide by a Former Family Judge by [Schoonover, Linda] 4. Divorce Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide by a Former Family Judge by Linda Schoonover. Emotions run high during divorces; it’s a natural thing. Schoonover, a former judge, helps you keep your head grounded in the process with thoughtful, rational, and easy to follow guides that tackle questions on divorce: from how to prepare for a temporary hearing without an attorney to how to choose between mediation or collaborative divorce.

 

Divorce: Taking the High Road: Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce by [Cooper, Pegotty, Mishkin,Kimberly, Wilson Gould,Kira, Levey,Marc, Reeves,Glenys, Burton-Cluxton,Lori, McNally,Lisa, Dykes,Pamela, Callahan, Tracy, Marhan Dropkin,Marie, Chacon,Kurt] 5. Divorce: Taking the High Road: Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce by Peggy Cooper with a contributing chapter from SAS Cofounder Kimberly Mishkin. Sometimes taking your emotions into consideration is exactly THE smart thing to do. In this book, taking care of your emotional well-being comes first, because divorce is an emotional and costly experience that can have repercussions not only on your fiscal future but your emotional future as well.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41tgjd9DjeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 6. The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Divorce: A Therapist and a Lawyer Guide You through Your Divorce Journey by Dr. Jill Murray and Adam Dodge Esq. This compassionate divorce book is written by two experts from different fields—psychology and law. From helping your children cope and strategies for successful coparenting to tips and tricks to help you with obstacles in the courtroom, this book touches on every aspect of divorce and gives you a way to navigate through them.

 

The Financially Smart Divorce: Three Steps To Your Ideal Settlement and Financial Security in Your New Life! by [Licciardello, J A] 7. The Financially Smart Divorce: Three Steps to Your Ideal Settlement and Financial Security in Your New Life! by J.A. Licciardello. Divorce is hard enough but splitting assets and negotiating a settlement can be especially difficult. You’re not just letting go of who you thought would be your life partner, but you’re now negotiating for your present and future finances once that split is over. This book can help you keep your finances in mind, even when you have a heavy heart.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/416P5C5ndbL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg8. BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns by Bill Eddy. Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with social media, emails, text messages, tweets, DMs, etc. We live in an age of technology where, when one soon-to-be-former partner is frustrated, there’s a plethora of social media and digital means of communication for them to harangue, harass and embarrass you. If you’re dealing with that, this book is for you!

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51JB90CDQEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg9. Onward and Upward: Guide for Getting Through New York Divorce & Family Law Issues by Cari B. Rincker, Esq., SAS for Women, and additional divorce pro’s. This is a comprehensive divorce and family law book that is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the perspectives of attorneys and important professionals like SAS divorce coaches Liza Caldwell and Kimberly Mishkin as they discuss a myriad of family and matrimonial law topics, including how to divorce, what the legal process looks like,  custody issues and how to avoid court.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51QiRlkhxdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg10. Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield by Tina Swithin. Divorce is hard enough without having to deal with a person with narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists are, by virtue of their diagnosis, especially good at manipulation and projection. If you find yourself facing or engaged in the battleground of divorce with a narcissist, this book will help you stay prepared and steady.

 

Caring For Your Heart

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZzCmz3WtL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg11. Getting past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott. Focusing on the hurt and loss in your life can leave you drained and unready to move on. But Susan’s book gives you a step-by-step guide on what to do after your divorce to start you on your journey of healing: from putting up boundaries between you and your Ex to focusing on yourself rather than your loss.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51MzAZ5Lz5L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg12. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Dr. Brené Brown. Being vulnerable is seen as a weakness, but Dr. Brown uses this book to illustrate that vulnerability is anything but weakness. Vulnerability is one of our core emotions, like love, joy, fear, etc., and when we expose our vulnerability, we are actually showing courage and can find empowerment through it.  This book is highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91oqnZRdz5L.jpg 13. This Is Me Letting You Go by Heidi Priebe. When you love someone deeply, even when divorce is the right thing to do, it’s hard to let go. This collection of essays is a fantastic tool for living with your feelings and understanding that love sometimes isn’t enough, even when we want it to be.

 
 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41WIbflfG2L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 14. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Sometimes the pain you are feeling really is only in your mind—you suffer because you think you are suffering. If you want to challenge logical pain and find joy, happiness, and love, look no further than within this book and within your heart. Through learning to embrace your day-to-day life and living within the present, the pain in your head will slowly fade away and will be replaced by a connection to our “indestructible essence” within.  Highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41LrftXWyrL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg15. Grieving the Loss of Love: How to Embrace Grief to Find True Hope and Healing after a Divorce, Breakup, or Death by Dr. Eleora Han. Grief is a very real emotion—one you’ll more likely be feeling after your divorce or the loss of a major relationship in your life. But grief doesn’t need to be a bad or negative emotion, and Dr. Han offers readers a path to recovery from grief that includes embracing the feeling of grief and loss and directing it in healthy, life-changing ways.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51TS0mIIqbL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg16. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön. When your world feels like it is crumbling around you, it’s hard to carry on and live through the pain, anxiety, and fear. In this book, Chödrön illustrates that the path forward isn’t through our heads, but through our hearts. Through Buddhist wisdom, Chödrön gives her readers the right tools to navigating troubling times within their lives.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51dZiYV4emL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 17. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Author Hay believes that we are responsible for all the joy and all the pain we experience in our lives. When pain starts to outweigh your joy, this book has first-hand experiences to help you heal, internally, and to overcome the obstacles, externally, that take you away from your ability to live life to its fullest.

 

 

Helping Your Children

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51YdVutKtlL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg18. Talking to Children About Divorce by Jean McBride. McBride, a family therapist with over 25 years of practice, has helped many children going through their parent’s divorce. In this book, McBride offers the tools and encouragement needed to help your children deal with your divorce. This book will empower you to have emotionally honest and open conversations with your children and will help ensure your child’s emotional wellbeing. Highly recommended by SAS for Women.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51A%2BiUP1tZL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg19. Co-Parenting Works by Tammy G. Daughtry. Imagining your children’s life after divorce never brings up happy images—but, there is a way to navigate a seemingly impossible situation. Through your children, you and your Ex are forever linked and building a strong coparenting relationship not only benefits you but helps your children lead a healthy, happy life post-divorce.

 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/513yoFu4awL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg20. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way by M. Gary Neuman and Patricia Romanowski. Divorce can be especially rough on children, but this book is designed to help you help your children cope. This book includes tips from building a coparenting relationship that benefits your children and age-appropriate scripts for addressing sensitive issues, down to what to say and do when one parent moves away.

 

It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce (Lansky, Vicki) by [Lansky, Vicki]21. It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-Together Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce by Vicki Lansky. If you have younger children, it can be especially difficult to communicate what a divorce is, why you are going through it, and, most importantly, how it is not their fault. This book, a classic, specifically designed for younger children, can help them come to terms in an age-appropriate way with what’s happening during a divorce.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51fQwgijgdL._SY457_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg22. Two Homes by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton. In preparation for your divorce and future as a coparent, this book is fantastic at illustrating what living in two households is like for a young child. This book helps younger children understand that no house is a part-time house but two loving homes for them to be a part of.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51mRRWPhJbL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg23. Family Changes: Explaining Divorce to Children by Dr. Azmaira H. Maker and Polona Lovsin. This multi-award-winning book isn’t for you but for you to read to your younger children. This beautifully illustrated children’s book helps children grasp the changes that are about to come about in their life and that change isn’t something to be afraid of. This book is designed to help ease a child through a difficult time in their life.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51a1qqGqdHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg24. Divorce Is Not the End of the World: Zoe’s and Evan’s Coping Guide for Kids by Zoe Stern and Evan Stern. This upbeat book is by two children of divorce, Zoe and Evan, whose parents divorced when they were 15 and 13 years old. Instead of turning that experience into something negative, the siblings worked together to create this book to help other children of divorce handle the situation in a positive way. With the help of their mother, the teens tackled topics from anger, guilt, fear, and adjusting to two different households.

 

For Yourself

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51nruTM3RfL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg25. The Awakening by Cate Chopin. Discontented, Edna Pontellier lives in New Orleans with her husband and two sons. While on vacation with her family, Edna falls in love with a mysterious man who is not her husband. When she returns home, she misses him deeply and when her husband goes away on a business trip, things will never be the same for Edna again.

 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Nr1ldFFRL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg26. How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over by Theo Pauline Nestor. This honest memoir is Theo’s story of kicking her husband out for his gambling problem and dealing with being alone with two young daughters. Formerly a stay-at-home mom, Theo not only has to figure out how to provide for her now husbandless family but also how to rebuild and move forward in her own life.

 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51BIxac7uFL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg27. Evening by Susan Minot. Known as a daring exploration of time and memory, Minot’s novel will whisk you away into the life of Ann Grant. At 65, Ann is experiencing illness which brings her in and out of lucidity. Throughout the novel, Ann slips into memories of the past from her first time falling in love at the age of 25 and through her three marriages and five children.

 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-pvNep7bL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg28. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1920, this novel not only captivates with a love triangle, a rebellion, and a smothering dose of tradition but also transports you to 1920s high society through the characters of Newland Archer, Mary Welland, and Countess Ellen Olenska. Forced to choose between obligation brought about through tradition or love, Archer, engaged to Mary and in love with Ellen, must navigate a world of social pitfalls and taboo to see if he can have both love and marriage, or forever being denied passion.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41pqc%2BDV-qL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg29. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. This new classic is a classic for a reason—it’s just plain old good. Wrap your head and your heart around Elizabeth’s journey across Europe and Asia to find herself after divorce. This book will not only captivate you as Elizabeth tries to find herself and her happiness but will make you hungry. Be sure to order yourself a pizza, pour yourself a glass of wine, and wear your comfortable sweatpants while reading.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Rqbzlu8VL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg30. Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce by Stacy Morrison. Never believing in fairy tales nor happy endings, Morrison grew up with the idea that hard work and ambition would be her path to a happy life. But her world view was challenged when she realized that no amount of work could save her marriage. This book is Morrison’s lightly humorous journey through divorce and learning how to love again, how to forgive, and how to live through a divorce.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41BGrvQV%2BTL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg31. Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Life seemed perfect for Rachel Samstat. She loved her husband dearly and she was about to have a child with him, but, while she was seven months pregnant, Rachel discovers her husband Mark has been cheating on her. Therapy comes in all forms, and in this novel, Rachel turns to cooking and writing recipes to cope with Mark’s infidelity and her own feelings about their marriage and future child. Ephron conveys things we all feel, but reading her is more: it’s both hilarious and cathartic!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-rwApY85L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg32. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Told in the age of industrialization of Russia and called “the best novel ever written” by Faulkner, this is the story of Anna and her two loves: her husband, Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin and her lover, Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. Anna is torn between her love of two Alexeis, between obligation and freedom, between her role as mother and the dictates of society and her own need for fulfillment through love. This stunning classic will both capture and break your heart through its beautifully-told journey.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/513x35SHFTL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 33. Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman. This story is that of Rita leaving all her worldly possessions at the age of 48, on the brink of divorce, and deciding to walk away from everything and become a nomad. Rita traveled the world from Mexico to the Galapagos to Borneo and everyplace in between as a way of not only seeing the world but discovering herself.

 
 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41rcED%2BzQAL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg 34. Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds. If you enjoy poetry and are also going through divorce, SAS for Women highly recommends this collection. Olds penned these complicated, nuanced and moving poems during the end of her own marriage and opens her heart to the reader. Through beautiful words, Olds reveals the strange intimacy that comes with the separation of a man that was 30 years her mate.

 

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41hP1UGDzSL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg35. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. This autobiographical book takes you on the journey Cheryl went through to become the person she is today, starting with her mother and her divorce. Cheryl falls into a dark place and, to save herself and learn to move forward, decides to hike over a thousand miles on the Pacific Coast Trail alone. Sometimes what you need is a really good book to lose yourself in, one you can learn and grow with just as the protagonist learns and grows. Wild is that book.

 

While there’s no guarantee you (or your friend) will connect with each and every one of these books on divorce, we’re willing to bet at least a few will resonate. Maybe one of them will teach you how to do  something step by step, while another will inspire you and remind you that in fact, you are not alone.  Hearing what the experts know or learning from other people who have gone through a divorce, can lessen your learning curve, bolster your own confidence and give you insight, tips, tricks, and strategies to make this process a little bit easier and less emotionally devastating.

What books on divorce do you recommend? By all means we invite you to share it in the comment box below so other women can benefit. Do tell us what made the book meaningful for you. We love learning from other women and their hard-won experiences! By all means, too, if you did not find a particular book on this list of “best books on divorce” relevant, good, or it did not serve you, let us know that, too.

 

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce. If you wish to move beyond reading and connect with others to learn the smartest and most compassionate steps for you specifically, we invite you to consider a free, 45-minute consultation with SAS, or, to learn about our powerful, female-centered, group coaching classes here.

* Please know, we recommend these books on divorce based on our experience with them and the feedback we’ve received from clients who have read them. The links to each book in this blog will take you to Amazon and should you purchase one using the Amazon links here embedded, SAS for Women will receive a few pennies commission. Though the links are designed for your convenience, you are welcome to buy the books from anywhere you like (your local bookstore perhaps?); just get the education and support you deserve and begin taking care of you.

Working with a divorce coach ... the good and the bad

What You Need to Know About Working with a Divorce Coach (the Benefits … and the Downsides)

As you navigate through the thoughts of divorce, dealing with divorce, or recovering from divorce, a divorce coach might be your best source of comprehensive support. That’s because an experienced divorce coach knows divorce is not just a legal or financial dilemma.  It’s a whole life challenge that requires your making diverse but smart decision—and not just for you, but for your family and your future.

No matter where you are on your journey, there are two things your divorce coach will consistently do for you. She will help you understand and cope with the wide range of emotions you’re experiencing, and she will help you answer the questions that are preventing you from moving forward.

A divorce coach will provide you with support tailored to your unique situation.

Thinking about divorce? A divorce coach can help you:

1. Gain clarity about your situation and your choices

Just because you’re thinking about divorce doesn’t mean getting a divorce is the best solution for you. Your divorce coach can help you understand what you must know about divorce so you find your way forward with integrity, so you can feel good about the decision you’ll ultimately make.

2. Understand your legal choices if you decide to divorce

One of the most confusing aspects of divorce is how to do it. What model of divorce do you choose? Mediation? DIY? Collaborative? Traditional litigation? Your circumstances and the feedback you receive from a coach can help you choose which model is best for you—and which models definitely aren’t. This saves you from embarking on the wrong and potentially costly path.

3. Evaluate your choices by providing you with unbiased and honest feedback

When you talk with your friends and family about your options, no matter how much they love you, chances are good that they’ll be biased because your decision could impact them or what they want for you. When you work with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce coach, you will have both a sounding board and a guide who isn’t concerned with how your decision might impact her.

4. Consider all the practical, financial, and legal challenges you may face regardless of your ultimate decision

Your divorce coach knows the challenges of putting a marriage back together again and of ending a marriage. With her knowledge and experience, she can guide you in defining your values and goals. She’ll encourage you to envision your future, so you can make your decision with a full picture of what lies ahead.

5. Connect you with the right people

You may need the services of a financial advisor, lawyer, mediator, accountant, or a parenting specialist. A divorce coach can attend those meetings with you, if necessary, or join you on phone calls as you gather the information you need to make your decision.

If you’re dealing with divorce, the benefits of working with a divorce coach include:

1. Helping you strategize the necessary steps (and when to take them) so you efficiently move through the divorce process and prepare for your life after divorce

With her knowledge and experience, your divorce coach will be able to help you step-by-step through the divorce process. She will help you consider your options—how they will impact you today and in the future. This saves time and money, so you don’t need to learn things the hard way.

2. Helping you deal with stress and navigate the overwhelming

You’ll experience so many different emotions because of this major life transition that at times you’ll find it difficult to think. Yet you still need to make decisions because the divorce process demands it. Your divorce coach will help you cope so you can make the best decisions possible for your family and your future.

3. Supporting you across every obstacle, challenge, and experience

As part of your divorce journey, you might experience sleeplessness, anxiety, fear, and anger. You might also be at a loss when it comes to looking for a new place to live, finding a job, or juggling the challenges of being a single parent. Your divorce coach will know exactly how to help you deal with every physical, emotional, and practical challenge you face as you’re dealing with your divorce.

4. Teaching you how to communicate effectively with your soon-to-be Ex

Despite the fact that you’re divorcing and emotions may be running high, you will still need to communicate with your former spouse. At a minimum, you’ll need to discuss coparenting and the division of property. Your divorce coach will share tools and tips with you to make the necessary discussions easier.

5. Connecting you with the right people

Financial advisors, lawyers, mediators, accountants, and parenting experts—since it can be overwhelming to keep track of all the details involved with getting divorced, your divorce coach can even accompany you to court and any meetings with other experts on your team to take notes and provide support.

One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re dealing with divorce is to have the right team of experts support you. Your divorce coach will advise you when and if you need to add additional experts to your team and how best to communicate with them.

If you’re recovering from divorce, working with a divorce coach can:

1. Help you deal with your grief about all that you’ve lost and all that will never be

There’s no doubt that you lose many things when you divorce—including your hopes and dreams for the future. It’s natural to grieve the losses. Your divorce coach will support you as you let go of the past.

2. Help you reboot and create your best life starting now

She will gently remind you of the reasons you divorced so you can focus on the present and your future instead of getting stuck in the past.

3. Help you see the lessons your marriage has taught you instead of allowing you to feel like a failure

Your divorce coach will help you find and focus on the lessons your marriage taught you, so you begin your recovery and healing … so  you can move forward and create your best next chapter.

4. Help you embrace your new freedom instead of fearing it

Divorce is a major life-changing event. Your divorce coach can help you frame your experiences as exciting challenges instead of terror- or anxiety-inducing ones.

5. Help you rediscover your true self

Compromises are part and parcel of marriage, and it’s easy to lose your true self as a result. Your divorce coach can help you revisit and define your personal values and goals, as well as envision and create your future.

Despite all these benefits, working with a divorce coach isn’t always a good idea.

What are the downsides to working with a divorce coach?

1. You will need to take action to overcome the obstacles and challenges you face

Many people just want a sounding board to vent their emotions and thoughts to because doing so makes them feel placated. The problem is these people don’t actually want to do anything besides talk. If this is you, working with a divorce coach isn’t a good idea.

2. Working with a coach can make the conversation about divorce “too real”

Meeting with a divorce coach does not mean you are necessarily divorcing: you are getting educated about your options. But as you learn more, you gain clarity, which may compel you to take action. If you don’t want to change your life, then working with a divorce coach isn’t a good idea.

3. You will need to do your research and select an experienced and knowledgeable divorce coach

Not everyone is a good divorce coach. You want a coach who is certified and experienced—possibly even specialized. (Everyone who has been through a divorce thinks she’d make a good coach, and that’s simply not true.)

4. You will receive good and bad feedback

If you are intimidated by feedback of any kind, a divorce coach may not be for you.

5. You will hear the truth—not just your version of it

If you don’t want to hear the truth, then you don’t want to work with a coach.

6. You will have to make your own decisions

If you’d like someone else to make decisions for you, working with a divorce coach is not right for you. A divorce coach’s job is to help empower you, so you become the best decision maker possible.

7. You will have her, and potentially a team, available to support you throughout your divorce journey

If you believe you can and should handle everything on your own, then you shouldn’t work with a coach.

A relatively new profession, the role a divorce coach plays is not widely understood in our culture. But her relevance as a “thinking partner” and guide through the challenges of divorce is making divorce coaches increasingly indispensable as you navigate through a journey fraught with complexity.

And yet, a divorce coach is not for everyone. If you’re ready to face your situation and your possible divorce journey now, with integrity and an eye toward minimizing the impact on everyone, choosing to work with a divorce coach is the best decision you can make.

Whether you are considering divorce, already navigating the experience, or recreating the life you deserve, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Schedule your free session to learn about your possible next steps to a better day of living with courage, compassion and integrity.

Man and woman coping with divorce

Five Steps for Choosing the Right Divorce Mediator for You

Choosing the right mediator is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the divorce process. The right divorce mediator can save you money, shorten the painful divorce process, and empower you for life after divorce—all crucial factors in your healing process.

But knowing how to find the right mediator for your specific needs can be overwhelming. There are many options to choose from, and finding the right fit can be challenging. For those of you who feel ready to start this process, I’ve offered five key steps below to find the right divorce mediator for you.

1. Interview, Interview, Interview!

Many divorce mediators offer free or low-cost introductory calls or initial consultations. Take advantage of this! You should speak with as many (and I mean, as many) mediators as you need to feel comfortable enough to make your decision.

When talking with potential mediators, keep in mind that—since mediation is a voluntary process—your partner must also agree on the mediator. Depending on your partner’s perspective, it might make sense to start by asking them to help identify and interview mediators. I’ve found that this can be especially effective in cases where one partner is hesitant about using mediation. Involving your partner in identifying a mediator both demonstrates your desire to work together—easing some of your partner’s anxiety about mediation—and reduces the amount of time it takes to start having important discussions.

If you interview and choose your mediator on your own, most mediators will ask to briefly speak with your partner prior to meeting you both in person. This quick chat allows your partner the same opportunity to speak privately with the mediator, thereby addressing any actual or perceived bias that could arise from working with a mediator who speaks with only one partner before starting the process.

Additionally, when you do speak with mediators, you should do more than learn about their credentials—you should also study your ability to communicate with them. Since mediation requires that you be your own advocate, make sure that you’re comfortable expressing yourself to the mediator you choose. And remember that you’ll also have to share the intimate details of your life—the good, the bad, and the ugly!—with your mediator. Make sure you find a mediator you can trust with those details and whom you’ll feel comfortable with during sensitive, personal conversations.

2. The right kind of experience

Not all divorce mediators are attorneys. There are many types of mediators who work with divorcing couples. Therapists and financial advisors, for example, are often willing to serve as divorce mediators. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to working with each type of mediator. However—and, as an attorney, I’m probably biased—I encourage you to put attorney-mediators at the top of your list.

The reason is that attorney-mediators—and especially those with backgrounds in family law—know the relevant laws and can advise you on how they might affect your divorce process. Attorney-mediators can draft a binding agreement and prepare and file divorce papers at the end of the process. This will probably save you money, since a non-attorney mediator will usually have to create what’s known as a memorandum of understanding documenting your discussions so that an attorney can later draft a binding document.

Therefore, attorney-mediators offer a “one-stop-shop” that non-attorneys can’t provide. In my experience, couples get a great deal of comfort from knowing that, when the mediation is over, they won’t have to hire another professional to file papers before moving forward.

That said, most attorney-mediators will strongly encourage each of you to hire a review attorney to ensure that the agreement adequately protects your interests. This is an important part of the process, ensuring that your agreement reflects the understanding that you and your partner have reached together with the mediator. But don’t worry: most attorney-mediators can refer you to a mediation-friendly attorney who won’t derail your hard work. And you don’t have to pay the reviewing lawyer a retainer fee, but an hourly fee for the review work.

3. Does the divorce mediator understand family law?

Regardless of whether you select an attorney-mediator, make sure that your mediator knows family law. Although therapists, financial advisors, and other professionals who mediate generally can’t give you legal advice, they can still provide important information throughout the process.

Some states, including New York, require specific things to be present in your agreement for the court to accept it. Your mediator needs to know what those are and make sure that your agreement includes them.

4. How does the mediator approach the sessions?

Although every divorce mediator’s style is different, there are two general approaches mediators take: facilitative or evaluative. Facilitative mediators focus more on guiding discussions without providing input. Evaluative mediators are more directive, using their own professional experience to generate options, point out potential pitfalls, and offer opinions as to what a court would decide if a particular issue were in a judge’s hands.

Although many mediators use a combination of methods—sometimes taking the lead while knowing when to take the back seat—most mediators tend to lean more in one direction. You should reflect on your and your partner’s personalities and find a mediator with an approach that will be the most productive for your style of communication.

5. Trust your gut

Throughout this process, you will, if you haven’t already, receive lots of advice from well-meaning friends and family (whether you ask for it or not!). In my experience, some of this advice can be helpful for my clients—and some of it, well, not so much.

Thus, my final and most important tip when selecting your divorce mediator is to trust your own instincts to make the decision that is right for you. You, and no one else, are in the best position to decide who is best suited to your situation. And your comfort and confidence in your choice will contribute to a successful mediation that will help you move forward to the next stage of your life.

SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women

Bryana Turner is a matrimonial attorney turned family law mediator. She believes divorce is hard but it doesn’t have to be war. After becoming dissatisfied and disheartened by the scars divorce litigation can leave on both the individual and the family, she founded Turner Divorce Mediation, P.C.—a practice dedicated to providing more amicable means to resolving family conflict.