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divorced women

What All Divorced Women Have in Common

Years ago, when I was still shell-shocked from learning of my husband’s infidelity and angry that I had become a divorced woman, I went out to dinner with two friends. Both were divorced women, so we had that in common. But one was talking easily about co-hosting her son’s graduation party with her Ex and his* new wife—the woman he’d left her for.

She barely even rolled her eyes when she said his name!

I couldn’t believe it. “How can you stand to be in the same room with him?” I asked, thinking of my own Ex-husband and the knot of dread and anxiety I felt just seeing his name pop up on my phone.

“It’s been five years,” she said. “After a while, I stopped caring about the past. You’ll get there too.”

She said this casually, with so much assurance, that I felt I had to believe her. But how could I?

I couldn’t imagine a day when I could be civil to my Ex

And I considered this pretty normal. Certainly, my other girlfriends who were newly divorced weren’t planning parties with their Ex-husbands. Like me, their scars were too fresh. They were still reeling from divorce fallout that seemed unending: Sandy was constantly facing her Ex in court, while Roxanne’s Ex refused to see or speak to her for more than a year. Linda was grieving not just the loss of her husband but the loss of her best friend, with whom he had an affair. Katie, in her sixties, had given up her retirement plans and savings for her second husband only to be abandoned and forced to navigate the harsh realities of a grey divorce.

What I knew for sure was that my friends and I, and many women like us, had been thrust into situations we never asked for.

As divorced women, how could we stop caring about the past when the past wouldn’t leave us alone?

I gave this a lot of thought. And I kept hearing my friend’s confident voice saying, “You’ll get there too.”


For more suggestions on how to move forward, check out What to Do After Divorce: Your Top 15 Best Moves


Then a funny thing happened. The more I thought about the past, the more I began seeing it through a different lens. In the same way that I had never imagined getting a divorce, I’d never imagined doing other challenging things, like not getting permission from the judge before moving my children to a safer, less expensive apartment. Or buying my own car without consulting with my Ex. Or enrolling in a course to become an energy medicine practitioner. Or learning to say no (full stop!) when my Ex tried to control my life.

When I focused on all the strong, independent moves I made throughout my divorce, the past didn’t seem so suffocating. In fact, I saw that I actually came through my divorce with the best gift imaginable: I met the best version of myself.

And this has been true for my friends too. We have something wonderful in common.

Divorced women have a secret superpower; it’s the strength to rise again

Not all of us look wildly successful on the outside. All of us still face challenges and struggles, but we share an inner strength that we never knew existed.

Here’s what that strength looks like:

Sandy spent so much time in court that she connected with someone who offered her a job as the office manager of an all-female law firm.

The extended cold shoulder Roxanne got from her Ex gave her the space to meet an amazing new partner.

Linda kept loneliness at bay by focusing on her education and career. She earned a doctorate degree and became a department head at a Big Ten university.

Katie, like me, wrote an award-winning memoir about surviving divorce.

Now, when I meet someone going through a divorce, I want to be the one offering assurances. I want to share what my friends and I have learned. I want to take that baffled, disbelieving woman gently by the shoulders, look her in the eyes, and tell her to have faith.

Divorced women are the strongest women you’ll ever meet

A divorced woman knows that the best version of her has gone ahead and is pulling her forward.

A divorced woman has earned a seat at a table loaded with resilience, clarity, wisdom, and freedom. And yes, it’s the very same table where she may, one day, have dinner with her Ex and her Ex’s new wife.

And it will be no big deal. I promise.

Tammy Letherer is an author and writing coach. Her most recent book, The Buddha at My Table: How I Found Peace in Betrayal and Divorce, is a Gold Medal Winner in the Living Now Book Awards and in the Human Relations Indie Book Awards. It was also a finalist in the 2018 Best Book Awards and National Indie Excellence Awards. Join her and author Maureen Muldoon for their July 10 online event, Divorce Unscripted: An Off-the-Cuff Conversation on Finding Your Peace and Power and find out how to turn one of life’s most difficult challenges into your greatest blessing.

* At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

Coping with Divorce like a modern woman

Not Your Mother’s Divorce: How to Cope Like a Modern Woman

Coping with divorce was not on my list of goals as a happily married mom of three. But my husband of twelve years had a different list, one he shared with me just weeks before Christmas.

He asked me to join him at the dining room table, where he sat with a piece of paper and two fingers of scotch in front of him and read the words he’d prepared: He’d been unfaithful for more than ten years, and he was leaving me for someone he’d met and known for one day in Las Vegas.

I remember sliding off my chair onto the floor as he walked out, leaving me alone with the kids sleeping in their beds.

When I finally got to my feet, an image of my mother flashed before me and I felt weak with shame. How could I be here, in a situation so similar to what she had faced with my father? How was it possible when I had done everything right? I had chosen my husband so carefully, certain that I could never be fooled by an unfaithful man.

Let the ghosts out

I dreaded telling her, certain that she would make the inevitable comparisons and that my experience would invite more dad-bashing.

But my mother only cried with me. A lot. I felt the depth of her pain through the phone line, and I was soothed because there is nothing in the world like crying to your mother. I believe it waters some dry patch in us that, as adults, we tend to overlook, intent instead on staking up our Proven-Winner lives.

Here I had believed my life was in full bloom. I had vowed to do everything differently from my mother, different from all the divorced women who came before me. My mother didn’t know how to write a check when my parents divorced. She had never handled her own money. I may have been a stay-at-home mom when my husband left, but I had a college degree and I knew how to run a Quickbooks spreadsheet. I was part of a new generation of smart women.

But the helplessness, the sense of doom, that my mother must have felt flared in me, and I understood it in a way I never could before.

In a session with my therapist, I cried, “I don’t want to be like my mother, alone and bitter!”

“That’s one picture,” he said. “But there are others.”

Those words would become a lifeline for me: there are other pictures, other ways of being. I didn’t have to become my mother. Now that I’d been thrust into the same situation, I felt the anger and judgments I’d carried toward her dissolve, replaced by a resolve that I would do all I could to feel powerful again after divorce.

So I created a new list:

Refuse to repeat the past

I found ways to ground myself in the present, even if that meant constantly repeating the obvious to myself: I lived in a different city, had a different education, personality, and support system than my mother. I could move on and choose a new future simply by deciding to.

Break the rules that need to be broken

During my divorce process I was told what to do by a variety of experts, including lawyers, mediators, vocational counselors, judges, and even other divorced friends. When I decided, on my own, to move myself and my kids to a cheaper apartment, my lawyer warned me to get permission from the court first. Instead, I trusted my gut and calmly explained that my move would save everyone money, including my former husband. My lawyer shifted gears so enthusiastically that I almost thought it was his idea!

Put yourself first

I learned that coping includes not only setting boundaries but stretching them too. I trained myself to tell my Ex-husband, “Sorry, that won’t work for me.” That was it. End of sentence. I stopped adding explanations and entertaining objections.

And then I went dancing. I took every lesson I’d always dreamed of taking, enduring the embarrassment of being up close and personal with strangers or stepping on someone’s toes. Dancing would become one of the unexpected gifts of my divorce. And when I knew enough to hold my own, I invited my mom to a jazz club, where we tore up the dance floor and had a blast.

I saw that we had very different ways of moving, both on the dance floor and through our divorces.

My divorce wasn’t my mother’s divorce. It was mine. And it was perfectly orchestrated for me to become my best self—past, present, and future.

 

Tammy Letherer is an author and writing coach. Her most recent book, The Buddha at My Table: How I Found Peace in Betrayal and Divorce, is a Gold Medal Winner in the Living Now Book Awards and in the Human Relations Indie Book Awards. It was also a finalist in the 2018 Best Book Awards. Tammy writes regularly about creativity, the writing life, inspiration, and spirituality. You can find her blogs on Huffington Post, SheKnows, GrokNation, SheDoesTheCity, and more. Connect with her at TammyLetherer.com.

Bad divorce advice

8 Terrible (But Common) Pieces of Divorce Advice You Should Definitely Ignore

It’s a rare skill to listen to someone without offering up your two cents, and divorce advice is no different. Each and everyone one of us does this. For women, especially, it’s only natural to want to help our loved ones. So we dole out our well-meaning advice. We try to fix whatever’s broken. But we don’t know what we don’t know, and when it comes to someone else’s marriage, there’s just so damn much we don’t know. Will never know.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of this “well-intentioned” divorce advice, just know that you’re not alone in this. Most of it comes from a good place, though much of it is terrible. Here are some of the more common pieces of divorce advice we’ve come across and why they often miss the mark.

Wait until the children are out of the house, for their sake

One of the most common pieces of divorce advice is simply to not get divorced at all. At least, not until the children are old enough to live on their own. This, the advice giver says, is what’s best for your children. But the research shows that’s not the case. Getting divorced and removing your children from an environment filled with tension and uncertainty can be better for you children in the long run.

In this case, the advice giver skirts around everything left unsaid: teach your children that it’s more important to be miserable than happy, to do what’s easy rather than what feels right, to pretend that everything is okay rather than bare your mistakes to the world, to make fear-based decisions instead of taking risks and being brave.

Get it together already

Harsh. But it’s tough love, right? The problem with telling someone to get it together is that it implies there’s a time limit on how long each of us has to wallow in our emotions. To just be. To process the end of a relationship. But sometimes all we feel up to on a given day is planting ourselves in front of the TV and watching When Harry Met Sally on repeat. Yes, Netflix, we are still here.

We get it, no one likes to see someone they love in pain, so when someone tells you to shut off your feelings, to “X or get off the pot” just to make them more comfortable around you simply explain to them that that is exactly what they are doing. You are sad, and that’s okay. If they don’t like what they see, they can leave you to it. Your divorce recovery journey is your journey, and no one but you gets to dictate what that journey looks like.

You just need to try harder

Divorce advice about you needing to “put in the work” almost always includes phrases like “to get that spark back.” Most of these people mean well, but being that they are on the outside of your marriage looking in, they can’t possibly know just how much effort you’ve already put into reconnecting with your partner and “fixing” whatever’s wrong in your marriage.

Working on your marriage is a complicated thing. It might be that all of this burden is being placed on your shoulders—or maybe it’s the opposite. On the advice of your loved ones, you’re constantly having talks with your husband* about trying more, making more time, changing his behavior, and now, he feels as though he’s walking on eggshells. That everything he does is wrong. This isn’t good either.

You and your partner should not feel pressured to perform a role that no longer fits, to be what someone expects of you rather than be yourself. Sometimes we try so hard to make our marriages work that we fail to see that we’ve become two mismatched puzzle pieces being forced together.

And then there’s the flip side.

It’s time to find someone better

It’s hard not to cringe when someone tells you this. Are they implying that you chose the wrong partner? That your Ex isn’t a good person? The truth is there are often a myriad of, and not just one, reasons that cause a marriage to come to an end. There is no winning or losing side. And in the months or even years leading up to your divorce, it’s quite possible that you painted a pretty one-sided picture of your Ex. It’s possible that your loved ones don’t have the full story.

After divorce, we each have our own lessons to learn. Could we communicate better? Be more patient and understanding? Are we being honest with ourselves about what we want out of life? Maybe your Ex was exactly who you needed in your life at a given moment, and now, for whatever reason, things have changed.

And if you have children who overhear talk of finding someone better, it’s possible that they’ll develop a negative view of themselves. After all, half of their identity has been formed by their father. If he’s not “good enough,” then maybe you feel the same way about them, too.

Next time, you’ll get it right

Here’s another cringeworthy piece of divorce advice. Marriage, children, the house—for so many, these are the markers of someone who has “made it.” Someone who’s successful and has it all. But now, your marriage is over. If you were once a winner, then logic says you’re now a loser. They (meaning all the people who are still winning, all the “happily-married” couples whose lives you are envious of) have gotten it and are still getting it right.

By now, surely you can see the problem with this kind of thinking. The logic is flawed. For one, there might not be a next time, and you might be perfectly okay with that. But more than that, marriage, and life by extension, is not a game. And you are not a failure for deciding to stop playing one way.

You need a rebound

You need to move on! You need to get “out there” and have some fun. You need to get under someone to get over someone. No matter how they phrase their words, anyone who gives you this advice is telling you the same thing: jump into bed with someone else—it’s the only way to let go of your feelings for your Ex.


Read: How to Avoid Rebound Relationships After Divorce


And hey, if this has helped you, then more power to you, but each of us is cut from a different cloth. There’s a time and place for casual sex, and while you’re recovering from divorce may not be one of them. Instead of helping you feel more alive and in control, it can make you feel even more alone and empty. At the end of the day, there’s that word “casual” attached to the sex. Casual as in no attachments, no feelings, and no promises. When you’re at your most vulnerable, sometimes you need to surround yourself by people who offer more stability than that.

You better dive back into that dating pool—you’re not getting any younger

It seems that for women our biological clocks never quite stop ticking. Our days are numbered in large, bold font with a neon arrow pointing to our expiration date for all to see. After divorce, we feel pressured to quickly find another of those plentiful fish in the sea. To snap one up and lock it down before the wrinkles settle in for good and we grow tired of covering up the grey.

And all this pressure? It puts you at risk of settling for someone who’s not really right for you and ignoring someone who might surprise you. It makes the whole dating experience more of a frantic frenzy than a journey that teaches you just as much about yourself as it does about any man. Give yourself the time you deserve to properly recover from your divorce before you start dating again. You can find happiness at any age, and anyone who tells you otherwise should be ignored. They’re projecting their own fears, but you know better than that.

Squeeze every penny out of that [insert insult here]

During and after your divorce, you’ll likely be experiencing many emotions, with one in particular often rising to the surface: anger. And your loved ones, who are also feeling angry on your behalf, might be stoking those fires rather than helping you put them out. But deciding to go after your Ex “for all that the’s worth” almost never makes those feelings go away. Instead, it prolongs your divorce proceedings. It creates resentment on both sides. It makes successfully coparenting nearly impossible.

In the moment, being angry might feel good, but in the long run, you’re giving both you and your Ex less resources to live your lives and raise your children with.

If you’ve gone through or are currently in the midst of divorce, we’d love to hear from you. What’s the worst piece of divorce advice you received? What “words of wisdom” do you wish you had ignored?

Whether you are considering a divorce, already navigating it, or are recovering from its upheaval, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do IT 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 and divorce recovery. Experience SAS firsthand. Schedule your free, 45-minute consultation to hear perspective, next steps and the best resources that will honor your life and who you are meant to be.

This article was authored for the all-women website SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a writer and content editor who loves discussing women’s issues and creativity. Melanie helps authors and small businesses improve their writing and solve their editorial needs.

*At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

Divorce Stress

7 Ways to Handle Divorce Stress

Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. What tops the list of most stressful life events for most people is moving, break ups, divorce—the latter of which involves dealing with the first two. So if you’re getting divorced and feeling stressed out about it, go easy on yourself. You’re not alone in this — no matter how isolated everything you’re dealing with is making you feel.

How you react to divorce stress is what matters. People cope with stress in a lot of ways—and not all of them are healthy.

So without further ado, here are some positive ways to handle divorce stress:

1. Learn how to enjoy your own company

Yes, we know we just told you you’re not alone in this. And we meant it. Your friends and family members are there for you. There’s an entire world out there filled with other divorced women who understand exactly what you’re going through. We should know because we work with some of those women every single day.

Even so, we know that a person can understand that she has a support network and still feel utterly alone. And yet, its important to learn how to be alone. Sometimes there’s a reason we don’t enjoy our own company, a reason why we don’t want to be left to our own devices, to mull in our thoughts. Instead of avoiding that, confront it.

2. Exercise

Staying active is about more than simply losing or maintaining your weight. Studies have proven that exercise gives people more energy and improves their focus. You need both of those things if you are deciding or navigating your divorce. You need both of those things afterward, too, on your divorce recovery journey. You don’t have to get a gym membership to stay fit either. You could take up tennis if you prefer to make a game of exercise, or you can go hiking if exploring nature is more your thing.

3. Unclench your muscles

Have you ever been “relaxing” only to suddenly notice your shoulders are all the way up by your ears? When we feel stressed out, our muscles tense up, like our bodies are physically trying to keep it all together when our minds feel too strained to do much of anything. You can help your muscles truly relax with a little self-care—meditate, take a hot bath, try to get more sleep, or if possible, treat yourself to a massage.

4. Spend time in nature

So many of us wake up indoors, drive our cars to the office, and spend our days sitting beneath fluorescent lighting until we rinse and repeat. On a day-to-day basis, how much time are we actually spending outside? And yet, for centuries, humans lived their lives surrounded by the great outdoors, tuning into mother nature’s clock because their very lives depended on it.

Sure, our lifestyles have changed, but the research demonstrates that our minds and bodies still crave nature and greatly benefit from time away from city life. In nature, we can slow down. A 90-minute walk in nature reduces your brain’s efforts to dwell on the negative. And spending multiple days in nature can improve problem-solving skills by 50 percent. That’s proof that sometimes we have to step away from a problem, from ourselves, to see things more clearly.

5. Find a hobby that you can throw yourself into

Don’t be afraid to get creative. You can take up knitting or join a book club. You can reignite your love of reading—audiobooks are especially great to put on while taking care of domestic duties or slogging through your daily commute.

Anything that requires an intense level of focus is perfect because your mind won’t have the opportunity to be sidetracked by whatever’s bothering you at that moment. Try out things like painting, solving puzzles, climbing, cooking, kickboxing, yoga, archery, or even learning a new language. If it doesn’t bring you joy, then stop and pivot to another activity. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to nourishing your divorce recovery.

6. Take a break from activities that trigger you

Social media, for one, puts people in an endless loop of comparing themselves to others. Life looks so much better through a filter. It’s so easy to convince yourself that the version of people you see online matches the reality. But do yourself a favor: don’t judge your insides by other people’s outsides. What’s more, social media is how many of us keep up with breaking news. And let’s face it, most of what’s on the news is triggering these days.

Being an informed citizen is a worthy goal, but the truth is that all this information doesn’t really serve most of us in our daily lives. While it can feel like everybody spends more time interacting with people online than they do in their “real” lives, social media is a choice. And it’s one that you can opt out of for however long you need, along with any other triggering activities in your life.

7. Talk it out

Keeping your feelings bottled up inside is a recipe for disaster. At some point, they’ll come pouring out of you whether you’re ready or not. Instead, find someone who you feel comfortable talking to about whatever’s vexing you openly. That might mean finding a therapist, divorce coach, or joining a smart, facilitated support group, or making a point to meet up regularly with close friends or family members. It’s not so much about leaving these conversations with solutions to all your problems, but the mere act of speaking your truth can work wonders on your mental health.

Ultimately, there isn’t any one way to handle divorce stress. Often times it’s about finding a routine. Find a group of people or activities that make you feel grounded, and then lean into that newfound sense of calm.

Visualize what your next chapter really looks like—what do you need from life, whom are you with, what does a typical day look like? Take a deep breath, then set about making it happen. Good things don’t always happen in one fell swoop. Appreciate the process. You’ll get there, step by step.

This article was authored for SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a writer and content editor who loves discussing women’s issues and creativity. Melanie helps authors and small businesses improve their writing and solve their editorial needs. You can reach her at [email protected]

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 emotional support and structured guidance now, helping you move forward the healthiest way possible, consider Annie’s Group, our virtual divorce education, support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

The reality of divorce in New York

The Reality of Divorce in New York

People know New York for its glitz, glamour, and grit. Everything’s loud, over-caffeinated and fast-paced. For some who experience the loneliness of all this, there can be the feeling of being left out, of never being enough, of someone else always lining up to replace you. But despite all of this, or in response, New Yorkers are equally known for being tough and seemingly invulnerable. Even when it comes to romance. Romance, New York style is often over the top or of the quirky variety, the kind of love that sweeps you off your feet. Think Carrie and Mr. Big. Harry and Sally. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in Barefoot in the Park. It’s the kind of romance they write love songs about. Until it’s not. But divorce in New York? Well, in most of our minds, breakups are equally cinematic. Flash to messy scenes from the Real Housewives of New York, or nuggets of gossip passed privately through whispers, then splashed across Page Six for anyone to see.

Yet, for all those clichés, in reality, divorce in New York State is far more mundane than any image you carry in your mind. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, the divorce rate in New York in 2011 was 2.9 for every 1,000 residents. That’s a lower rate than most states in the country!

Of course, when the divorce is happening to us it doesn’t have to be the literal end of the world to feel like it’s the end of ours. Your divorce might come as a complete shock, or it may seem like a long time coming. Either way, it can all feel surreal, like you’re having an out of body experience. How you wish it were just a movie! Yet, this is your life. You are getting a divorce. And throughout your divorce, the surprises may keep coming, bringing out the worst and the best of you.

You may not be feeling so much like Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City—young and colorful and ready to take on the world—as you are Sarah Jessica Parker in HBO’s Divorce, a little jaded and angry, feeling dull around the edges but looking for reasons to hope.

If that’s you, if you’re done considering divorce or have had divorce forced upon you, then here’s a primer highlighting what to expect when getting a divorce in New York.

Divorce law in New York

In New York, there are two kinds of divorces, a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce.

In an uncontested divorce, the most trouble-free approach, you and your husband agree about the need for a divorce and you believe you will come to terms on how your property gets divided and how your children are cared for. On your own or with the help of lawyers or a mediator, you and your husband come to an agreement on everything and do not need the court to get involved to divide assets or make decisions about spousal or child support or custody.

Typically, an uncontested divorce moves more quickly through the system. It’s less complicated and less expensive. You will likely never set foot inside a courtroom with an uncontested divorce.

In a contested divorce, you and your husband are not in agreement about any or all of these things. (Hello, your marriage?) If there are disagreements, and often there are, you will likely need the help of a legal professional(s) to resolve them. The more intense the disagreements, the more expensive the process can become and the greater risk you run of having to go to court to have a judge decide.

Many couples will begin the process of a contested divorce and then, before trial, reach an agreement. This is a settlement.

Thanks to the Internet, though, it’s become increasingly popular to consider a Pro Se or DIY divorce and thereby eliminate the costs of lawyers. Couples who do this successfully are couples who are almost always in agreement. (Hmmm.) They are doing an uncontested divorce.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you and your husband really in agreement about everything?
  • What are the critical issues?
  • Do you understand the finances?
  • Do you understand spousal support?
  • What about child support?
  • What are your options for custody arrangements?
  • How are you going to handle your debt? Whose debt is whose?

Our experience is that most women do not know these things, nor do their husbands—but the idea of saving money on legal fees (or being bullied into the DIY process) blinds them from finding out what they are each entitled to by law. There’s a phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” and it couldn’t be more aptly used for this scenario.

How can you split things up if you don’t understand what you’re splitting — like the finances (are you aware of their long-term tax implications?) Or what negotiated variable is going to benefit you more in the long run? You need feedback from someone who’s an expert on your situation.

In short, we recommend you NOT consider a DIY or online approach unless you have no children, there is no debt and little or no assets, and the marriage has not been for very long. And if you do pursue a DIY model, we encourage you to consult with an attorney privately at least once (but preferably throughout your completing the paperwork).

Divorce facts in New York

New York also allows you to get either an at-fault divorce (you must prove your husband is responsible for the need to divorce) or a no-fault divorce.

For most people, it’s easier to seek a no-fault divorce. You don’t have to prove anything other than the relationship is irretrievably broken. “To qualify” in New York, the relationship must be broken for at least six months. Also, New York usually requires that you or your spouse have lived in New York State for at least one year before you can file for divorce.

New York is often associated with all things progressive and liberal, but it was actually the last state in the country to allow no-fault divorce. That means that until 2010, getting a divorce in New York almost always meant that one spouse had to prove the other spouse did something wrong and is to blame. What’s more cinematic than a jilted lover or “cold-heartedly” calculating your actions to create a case where you are the wronged party? It’s a recipe for disaster, for heightening emotions and irrational behavior—for people to lash out and for proceedings to get ugly and expensive and to heighten the risk of going to court.

This said, you can still get an at-fault divorce in New York. To do so, a spouse must have the “legal grounds,” which usually involves adultery, cruel or inhuman treatment, or abandonment. Most divorce lawyers in New York will advise you not to go the at-fault route no matter the dramatic details you may throw their way. It is generally considered a poor use of resources to have a trial on grounds now since the system no longer requires it.

With this in mind, you will want to make sure you understand why your lawyer is pushing for an at-fault divorce, such as “cruel and inhuman treatment,” and how it will benefit your situation as opposed to pursuing a no-fault divorce. We had a client, for example, whose husband had serious mental health issues and refused to seek treatment. Her lawyer filed an at-fault divorce for “cruel and inhuman treatment” as a strategy to protect the children and to impact the custody arrangement, so the children were not left alone with him until he was fully recovered, healthy and functioning.

New York is an equitable distribution state

In New York, assets (the things you own) get divided through “equitable distribution,” meaning, in general, everything you owned prior to getting married is your separate property and everything acquired after your marriage gets divided as fairly as possible.

The separation of property—how you will divide it up—is negotiated between you and your husband, or more likely, by your lawyers after they have consulted with each of you, or with the help of a mediator. But it has to be done well and fairly enough that the court will sign off on the agreement.

These are just a few of the facts that come into play when discussing divorce in New York. There is more you’ll want to know before you proceed further. But we don’t want to contribute to sensory overload.

What matters most is that you are not going to do it all at once, but you will want to be in a position to learn and come to understand what your options are before you make decisions about your property, the debt, child support, custody, spousal support, legal fees, insurance, and more. You might need an order of protection if abuse is a concern, which complicates matters even further.

This is why, whether you pursue a DIY approach, or go to mediation, or use a collaborative attorney, we urge you to get educated on what your choices are first.

Read Divorce in New York: 10 Things to Know Before Seeing a Lawyer

Divorce court

You must know that about five percent of all divorce cases go to full-blown trial. Less than five percent. So turn the television off. The standard way people divorce is still the traditional one, of your hiring an attorney to represent your interests and your husband hiring an attorney to represent his. Your lawyer meets with you individually, as does your husband’s, and then the lawyers negotiate the settlement through phone calls or meetings.

Divorce negotiations are different from negotiations in most other legal matters in that clients usually attend the meetings—known as “four-ways”, with their lawyers. If one side fails to negotiate or settle, then the risk of going to court does increase, and both parties must attend every court appearance with their lawyers. This traditional approach is still the best way for the less-moneyed or less-powerful spouse (the one who lacks money or knowledge about the finances) to get a fair share.

Diversify your insight into how you will divorce

On the plus side of living in New York is that the city and the state can often be frontrunners of change. Just by virtue of your living within New York’s boundaries, there are far more resources available to you than people living in other parts of the country. Take advantage of those resources, like law schools that offer free legal aid, or referral services offered by the New York Legal Bar Association.

You don’t have to rely on visiting a lawyer and learning things the expensive way as most people have done in the past. There are now people like us, the divorce coach, who can help you learn about divorce (and yourself) before you commit to anything. A certified and experienced divorce coach can also connect you to vetted lawyers and other experts — like a certified divorce financial analyst (who can help you answer the money questions). How you choose to divorce matters for your children and your own recovery.

How long does a divorce take in New York?

Okay, we know, you are maxing out. You want to hear how long this is going to take. If we are talking only about the legal aspect to the divorce and not your recovery and healing, than the time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on two things: how motivated you and your spouse are to organize your papers and documents and to push your attorneys to negotiate the agreement and how busy the court that receives and officializes your settlement agreement is.

For some people, it can take as little as six weeks, for others, six months or more for an uncontested divorce. With a contested divorce, there is no way of forecasting it, but certainly, a deciding factor would be when the money runs out.

What’s certain is that divorce anywhere is a (long) process, and while that wait can be frustrating, it also means you won’t be able to jump into anything without thinking it through first (and that might just be a blessing in disguise).

Divorce support groups for women in New York

There are over eight million people living in New York City and more than twice that in New York State. You are not the only one “feeling lost in New York,” or like everything’s falling apart even as you try to put it back together. We say this a lot but only because it’s true: You are not alone. If your couple friends have disappeared and disappointed you, you are lucky to live in a city and state where there are many divorced women and men—and the stigma of divorce is not as pronounced as it may be somewhere else.

Your job is to connect with those people who understand what you are going through and get educated on what your choices are and who you want to be as you make these important decisions. You might consider joining an online education-driven support group with other women who share similar experiences and who seek to find their voice and change their circumstances for the better. Women just like you.

Remember, divorce in New York rarely looks the same as it does on TV, where the drama’s amped to increase ratings and to get you coming back. This is a process none of us wants to experience even once, let alone come back to. Your divorce doesn’t have to be so dramatic. You can choose to let go the theatrics because they don’t serve you, your Ex, or your children, and to focus on what you do control: getting educated fully before you commit to any one path or decision, and to move through the process smartly and with the greatest sense of integrity and compassion for everybody — including you. 

For more steps to help you with divorce join us for your free 45-minute consultation.

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 emotional support and structured guidance 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.

 

This article was authored for SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a writer and content editor who loves discussing women’s issues and creativity. Melanie helps authors and small businesses improve their writing and solve their editorial needs.

*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 decree

Demystifying Your Divorce Decree

What is a Divorce Decree? And who decides what’s in it?

The Divorce Decree, often referred to as the “Judgment of Divorce” or “JOD,” is the document that makes your divorce official under the law. It’s an Order of the Court that formally dissolves a marriage.

As anyone who has been through the process will tell you, the road to that Divorce Decree is long even in a straightforward case, and just when you think the end is in sight, there is often another bend in the path. People are usually relieved to arrive at a Divorce Agreement (the final resolution of all the issues in the divorce by agreement of you and your spouse—with or without the assistance of a court along the way) only to learn that the divorce process is not quite over.

Divorce Decree vs. Divorce Agreement

The Divorce Decree is a completely separate document from your Divorce Agreement, and no one even starts thinking about the Decree until the divorce case is fully settled between you and your spouse and memorialized in the Divorce Agreement, or all the issues have been decided by the Court.

The Divorce Decree is only a handful of pages whereas the Divorce Agreement could be fifty or sixty pages. However, just about every Decree includes a sentence saying that the terms of the Agreement are made a part of the Decree “by reference.” This means that each term of your very, very detailed Agreement is solidly enforceable regardless of whether it is also specifically mentioned in the brief Decree.

The Divorce Decree is prepared by your lawyer and submitted to the Court to be signed by the Judge. Most often you, your spouse and your lawyers agree to the wording of the JOD and sign off on the Decree that is submitted to the Court. But sometimes you won’t be able to agree on the terms of the Decree. When this happens, each party submits a Proposed Judgment to the Court and the Judge chooses which one to sign.

Once the Judge signs the Decree, it needs to be processed by the County Clerk’s Office and entered into the County’s records. Only then is the Judgment finally ready for pickup.The lawyer who filed the Judgment is usually the one who obtains a copy from the Court, and she will serve it on the other party with a cover sheet called the Notice of Entry. Service of the Divorce Decree with Notice of Entry and filing a copy of that Notice of Entry in Court makes your divorce as official and final as can be.

I keep hearing about “Divorce Papers.” What are those?

The Judgment of Divorce is submitted to the Court with about fifteen other documents (give or take depending on the case, but always including your Divorce Agreement if you have one). Some of these need to be signed by you, some need to be signed by your Ex, and some are signed by one or both of your respective attorneys. Together, these documents are referred to as “Divorce Papers.”

One spouse’s lawyer will prepare the Papers, and the other spouse’s lawyer will review and edit them. The back-and-forth over the Divorce Papers usually takes a few weeks, but take heart: this process is generally low stress and a world away from negotiating the Divorce Agreement.

The court system in most places is very strict about the contents of the Papers so the negotiation about the contents primarily centers around technical concerns and formalities rather than substance.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Divorce? And 4 Signs You Are On Your Way

So when will I have that final Decree in hand?

In geographic areas with busy court systems, like New York City, it often takes about three months from when your lawyer files your Divorce Papers until the Judgment of Divorce is signed by the Court, entered into County records by the Clerk, and made ready for pickup. In today’s automated world, this long processing time seems shocking, but the Court system is mind-bogglingly old fashioned even in the “greatest city in the world.” In other places in the country it could be must faster—or slower.

Your lawyer needs to send someone to hand deliver the Divorce Papers to the Courthouse where there is sometimes only a single person whose job it is to review and accept the Papers. When this person takes a vacation, no Divorce Papers can be filed. It is as simple (and absurd) as that. Depending on whether your case was ever in litigation or not, your Papers will either go directly to your Judge or be randomly assigned. Reviewing Divorce Papers is tedious grunt work, and all the Judges have stacks of them so they tend to hang out for a while. When the Papers finally make it off the Judge’s desk and are recorded in the Clerk’s Office, your lawyer is not notified by email but instead by postcard.

But I’m ready to work on moving on and putting the divorce process behind me. Am I at the mercy of the County Clerk to start living like I’m divorced?

The good news is that most people will feel emotionally divorced upon the signing of their Divorce Agreement and Divorce Papers.

The “Big Day” in the life cycle of a divorce is the day the you and your soon-to-be Ex sign your Divorce Agreement—or less frequently, the day the Judge hands down a final decision after a trial on the issues in the divorce.

By the time most people receive their signed and entered Divorce Decree in the mail from their attorney they have put much of the upheaval of the divorce process behind them. They’ve been living by the custody and support terms of their Divorce Agreement for a few months and have divided most, if not all, of their property. They’ve begun the important work of individually recovering and rebuilding their lives.

Is there anything that absolutely must wait until I receive my Divorce Decree?

While most of the terms of your divorce go into effect when you sign an Agreement or after a Judge decides the issues in your case, there is one big exception.

You cannot make changes to health insurance coverage until the Divorce Decree is entered in the Clerk’s Office. The law is extremely strict about this—you are entitled to remain on your spouse’s health insurance plan until the Judgment of Divorce is entered into the records of the County Clerk.

My Divorce Decree is finally ready. Where do I get a copy, and what do I need it for?

You can obtain a Certified copy of your Judgment of Divorce at any time for a nominal fee. In New York County the fee is $8.00 plus a few cents per page in copy charges. Some counties allow you to obtain a Certified copy by mail, but others still require you to go to the County Clerk’s Office in person. If you are represented by an attorney, he or she will usually obtain a Certified copy and send it to you for your records as a matter of routine.

The Divorce Decree is an extremely important record akin to a birth certificate or marriage certificate. You will need it if you want to change your name after divorce and again to obtain a marriage license if you want to remarry someday. It is also proof of your divorce that may be relevant to areas like your income taxes, insurance policies, social security benefits, and retirement accounts.

Your Divorce Decree is also a powerful document because it is a Court Order. If you ever need to call the police because there is a custody problem, you will want to have the Decree to show them. Similarly, if you ever need to go to Court to change or enforce the terms of your divorce, you will need to submit a copy of the Decree.

Two or three Certified copies retrieved directly from the Court is probably enough to maintain on hand as a photocopy will suffice for many purposes. You can obtain additional copies at any time no matter how long ago your Divorce was filed.

For more than 20 years, Nina Epstein and law partner Elyse Goldweber have helped individuals and families in the New York City metropolitan area with the full range of legal issues associated with creation and dissolution of personal unions—including divorce, separation, and child custody and support. Ariella Deutsch is a more recent but no less passionate member of their legal team. For more information on how they might assist you please call (212) 355-4149.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. We invite you to learn what’s possible for you. Schedule you free, 45 minute consultation with SAS. Whether you are coping or already navigating your life afterward, a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

how to bring up divorce

How to Bring Up Divorce

Divorce is not—no matter the circumstance—going to be an easy subject to bring up with your soon-to-be Ex. While you might be fed up with your husband* and, without a doubt, want a divorce, you’re afraid that using the dreaded D-word is going to hurt or shock your partner. You want to bring up divorce, but walking down that path seems as terrifying as Snow White running through the woods, all your fears clinging at your skirts. Once you mention divorce, as soon as your partner hears that word, you know you’ll have to stop running and confront those fears one by one.

This post is for you, the woman who’s ready to stop running. Because maybe you’ve tried counseling. You’ve used your words. You’ve turned the other cheek (or not). You’ve looked past his faults and have worked on your own. But you still aren’t happy. “Happy” is a long way off.

It’s time to stop dwelling on exactly how to bring up divorce because there is no one right way, and instead, reach within yourself for the strength you’ll need to have a frank and open conversation with your partner about what is real and the decision you have come to.

We have some general tips on where, when, and how to have this conversation, but remember, divorce isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. You understand your situation and your soon-to-be Ex best. The tips below are merely suggestions—it’s up to you to decide how to best adapt them to your specific situation.

The setting

This is a tricky thing to think about, but it is one of the best places to start: where are you going to bring up divorce? Going out might seem like a good idea—a way to minimize your partner’s ability to have a big, possibly dramatic reaction—but that can often backfire. You can make your husband feel as though you’ve tricked him by bringing him out on a date only to drop the D-bomb on him.

As divorce coaches, we do recommend going out to have this conversation but to a neutral place so you are not reminded of domestic triggers or distracted by routine interruptions. A neutral place is not a restaurant where you can be interrupted by waiters or even friends who might see you. Instead, we like the idea of sitting on a park bench or taking a walk on a quiet path. Breathing fresh air and moving around helps you gain perspective and lowers stress levels.

If you are in counseling or have a couple’s therapist you can speak to, a session would also be a safe and appropriate place to bring up the D-word. Your counselor’s office is both a public and private place where you’ll have someone available to help you along during the conversation.

If you choose to bring up divorce at home, make sure your kids are in bed or—better yet—out of the house with a trusted loved one or at another activity. If there is yelling or crying, you don’t want your children to witness your fight. You might want to have a meal prepared and a space you feel comfortable in before you speak to your partner. Your talk with your spouse might be long and involved, or it might be short and simpler than you think—either way, choosing a space where you feel safe is crucial.

The timing

While you can argue that there really isn’t ever a great time to bring up divorce, there are plenty of very not good times that you should probably avoid, like an anniversary, a major holiday, a child’s birthday, or while your kids are applying to college. (“Thanks, Mom, I didn’t get into Harvard because you — and your springing divorce on Dad!”)

With all of that said, sometimes the conversation needs to happen sooner than later—sometimes ending a relationship feels especially time-sensitive, rightfully so, if your soon-to-be Ex has had an affair or brought an STI into the bedroom. Is there domestic abuse? The timing of the divorce really depends on the urgency and necessity of divorce.

Even the time of day should be taken into consideration. If your partner is leaving for work in 15 minutes, for instance, it’s not the right time to bring up divorce because you won’t have time to thoroughly talk it through and, instead, he’ll be at work all day ruminating on divorce. He’ll come home upset and in a state of mind that isn’t helpful when having a serious conversation like getting a divorce. Similarly, bringing up divorce right before bed can lead to a night of restless sleep in which you and your future Ex spend the night discussing the same issues over and over again rather than actually sleeping.

One of the best times for bringing up divorce might be over dinner on a Friday, or really any day when you and your partner don’t have to get up and go to work the next morning. This way, you can talk, rest, or think without worrying about putting on a good face for others.

The script

When the setting and timing is right, it’s time bring up divorce. Your tone, overall, should be empathetic—you know this isn’t going to be an easy conversation, and you aren’t asking to get a divorce out of anger or malice, so let your tone convey that.

Try to remove any accusatory language from the conversation. Don’t try to assign blame to your Ex, either, even if the divorce was brought on by something that he did or maybe even many things that he’s done. Instead, use “I” language, like “I feel like we’ve tried various way of getting our relationship back, and it’s not working. I don’t want to live like this anymore. It’s time we talk about divorce.” This makes the conversation about moving on and not about assigning guilt or blame for the end of your marriage.

While you want to have an empathetic tone and you want to use “I” language to avoid assigning blame, you also want to stand firm on what you want and follow through with your plan to pursue a divorce. Your husband might be upset and plead with you to give him another chance. He might promise you that he’ll change—but hold firm and let him know the time for change has passed. While you might be sure he can work on himself and improve in the future, it will have to be for himself or his next partner, not you.

More on tone

As divorce coaches, we like to recommend to clients that they also reassure their partner, because the word “divorce” induces all kinds of nightmare scenarios. While we believe you do not have to have all the answers on how you will divorce (what you will ask for, how you will split the 401(k), etc.) to have this difficult conversation, it is wise to endeavor to set a certain tone for the conversation and your interactions going forward.

Reassure your partner you don’t want to end your marriage as their adversary. You might say, “I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how we’re going to do this exactly. But let me reassure you for the sake of both our lives (and our children’s), I want to do this the healthiest way possible.”

This may bring the temperature down between you and your partner, who may worry you will try to keep the children from him or you will try to be vindictive or cruel, resulting in a divorce that costs a lot—both financially and emotionally.

When you feel that you’ve said what you must say (keep it simple) and that your soon-to-be Ex understands your feelings and what this means for your relationship, it’s time to end the conversation. This can be a really difficult spot to feel out, but once you do, it’s time to set a future meeting date to talk about how you might separate or divorce — traditional approach, mediation, using the “collaborative divorce model” or DIY.

Caution

This conversation—the one in which you bring up divorce—shouldn’t be the lets-get-it-all-done-now conversation. That’s far too much to talk over at first. You and your soon-to-be Ex need time to process what just happened before you take the next steps in getting a divorce.

It’s an important thing to remember that it’s taken a lot of time, pain, and thought to arrive at this place of discussing divorce with your partner. On some level, you’ve been preparing for this day for a long time. But your partner has not.

Chances are things have not been good, but if you are saying divorce first, it’s important to give your partner time to really take in the fact that you are serious. If you’ve said “divorce” before but then caved, remember that he’s been conditioned to believe you don’t really mean it. If you do mean it (and we do not encourage you to use it as a threat unless you really mean to follow through) expect your partner to have an emotional reaction to your truth. He will need time to metabolize what you’ve said and what it really means.

The aftermath

After all is said and done, you have just taken a big step toward making your divorce real. It’s not an easy journey, even if your conversation with your Ex goes well. Even if you and your Ex seem to be on the same page during the start of your divorce, you will likely need ongoing support discovering and staying focused on your most meaningful goals—and not getting caught up in the emotional drama.

At SAS for Women, we like for a woman to be educated on what her rights are and what getting a divorce might look like BEFORE she decides fully decides to divorce or has this momentous conversation with her partner. A good divorce coach can help you not only figure out if you want to end your marriage, but what your choices genuinely are, and how to bring up divorce with your partner. A certified, seasoned divorce coach can help you figure out all the little and big decisions throughout the divorce process, too. You’ll want the right support shepherding you through these challenges to the new place you’re headed to, the place where you actively pursue your happiness and rebuild your independence.

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 emotional support and structured guidance now, helping you move forward the healthiest way possible, consider Annies Group, our virtual divorce education, support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Learn what your choices and goals really are. Schedule your 15-minute chat to find out if this education is right for you, where you are in your life, and most importantly, where you want to go.

*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.

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.

snowy pine tree

Surviving Divorce Series: 11 Tips for Getting Through the Holidays Intact

Every month my partner Liza and I jump on the phone and host a free call for women facing change, coping, and surviving divorce.  We don’t have fancy equipment nor do we rehearse…let’s just say our schtick is far from polished. But we find more and more women joining us each month as we informally chat about the challenges divorce throws your way, and what’s more, the actions you can take to not only survive, but to actually nurture yourself.

A while back we hosted a call about surviving divorce and the holidays, a topic near and dear to our hearts. Liza and I both distinctly remember the eggshell-walking, crazy-making holiday times during our own divorces. Liza spent many years with her young girls feeling torn: on one side throwing herself into the merriment, on the other side, feeling like a fraud.The first time the holidays came around for me after I left my husband, I was unprepared for just how lonely and lost I would feel. For these reasons and for many others, Liza and I opened up our call to other women to hear what’s on everyone’s mind and to offer a few insights.

Surviving the holidays is possible if you prepare for them.  How?

1.     Lose the Norman Rockwell interpretation. Why is it that when this time of year rolls around we all have visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads? (What is a sugarplum, do you even know?)  The storybook version of the season is never how it really turns out and you know it.  Under the best of circumstances things go sideways so don’t set yourself up for disappointment.  Expect things to not go perfectly.

2.     Avoid winging it, have a plan. Anticipate what parts of the holiday you might struggle with and make a plan for what you will do during those times.  Where will you go Christmas Eve or the first night of Hanukkah? Don’t assume you’ll be fine and figure it out in the moment. Chances are that day will come and you won’t know what you want to do – and you’ll end up feeling sorry for yourself instead.

3.     Also have a plan B.  Just in case you really really don’t feel like doing what you originally planned to do, have an alternative plan ready.  Perhaps you were going to spend the day with your family but now the thought of that is just overwhelming…perhaps your plan B will be to go to the movies with a girlfriend who understands.  Tell your family ahead of time about plan B, let them know you will do your best to be there but that you might need to pass this time to take care of yourself. They’ll better understand your absence if it’s not a last minute cancellation.

4.     Don’t be afraid to mix it up.  There is no rule that says you always have to get a tree or bake or make latkes or spend a certain day at so and so’s house.  If what you’ve always done before is now something you find yourself dreading, do things differently. Create new traditions and new patterns that you can actually look forward to. If you have kids, brainstorm together what things you’d like to do for the holidays.  Challenge yourselves to think outside the box!

5.    Look ahead to the next holiday, now.  If you have kids, you’ll actually need two plans for each holiday:  One for when you have the kids, and one for when you don’t.  Use this planning time to think ahead to this time next year and all the holidays in between.  This is long range planning, not just what will you do to get through the next 3 weeks.  Get out the calendar and take a moment to brainstorm ideas so you don’t find yourself at a loss when the time comes.

6.    Try changing the setting.  We live in New York and this time of year is dreary, dark, and cold.  If you are feeling cheerful about the holiday season, you can pretty easily overlook the weather and the tree and window decorations give you a boost.  However, if you are not feeling so “fa-la-la…” well those decorations just annoy you and the weather can literally put you into a state of depression.  You must change your environment.  Plan a trip if you can, someplace with a very different feel from home. Perhaps you can visit an old friend or connect with a family member you might not typically see this time of year. If you can’t travel, do something to alter your environment at home… maybe try new curtains and a bedspread or rearrange the furniture. Changing your environment will help your brain get out of the negative thinking pattern.

7.    Boycott if you want to.  When I was navigating my own divorce recovery, I simply wanted nothing to do with the holidays.  I didn’t want to go to any parties nor make myself crazy shopping…I just didn’t have the heart for it.  I gave myself permission to disengage from most of my usual obligations one year.  I spoke to my friends and family, letting them knows that I needed some time off and that I’d be back next year.  Granted, I did not have children at the time and I know this might not be possible for some of you moms…but I do encourage you to pull back on the number of things you are beholden to.  Choose the most important traditions and honor those – while giving yourself a break and some breathing room from some of the others.

8.     Maintain safe boundaries. Your friends and family might know (or at least suspect) what’s going on with you and your marriage, but you do not have to feel obligated to open up and talk about it.  Establish a boundary that feels safe for you and create a statement that you can say if someone tries to cross the line… saying something like “I know you care about me and I appreciate your concern.  I’ll let you know when I’m feeling more comfortable with sharing the details” will go a long way in helping family honor your privacy.

9.    Start a gratitude journal.  Believe it or not, there is actually a lot of research that supports the fact that writing in a gratitude journal has positive psychological and physical effects. Here’s how it works: 1. Buy a notebook or journal that you love. 2. Once a week (not more often, that has a reverse effect and starts to make it feel like a chore) write down one thing you are grateful for. Throughout the week you’ll find yourself thinking about what you’ll write next week and that keeps you in a place where your brain is regularly engaging in positive thinking – helping you to see everything in a more positive light.

10. Recognize this is finite and start scheduling the new year.  It’s easy to get stuck in a funk and lose sight of the fact that this is all temporary. In fact, there are only a handful of holidays in a year but they get so easily get blown out of proportion.  Look beyond the holidays and start making appointments and planning things for the regular days ahead.  Schedule appointments and notes on the calendar for January and February so you have plenty to look forward to.

Toward the end of our call, a listener added an 11th tip to the list (… thank you Patricia!) that we think is ESPECIALLY important to include here:

11.  Don’t play the victim anymore! We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking everything is happening to us alone, or that our spouse is so beastly, or our kids are so insensitive. In short, we convince ourselves we have no power here. That isn’t true…you can choose to stop playing the victim. Turn the table and actively decide that you are going to stop letting others dictate how your feel. Make the choice to stop letting circumstances and people rob you of your joy, this time of year, or any other day or hour.

 

Since 2012 SAS for Women has been entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face when dealing with divorce and major life changes. We invite you to join us for one of our powerful, virtual group coaching classes starting soon. Or if you cannot wait, and you’d like specific, confidential feedback on your situation right now, we offer every woman (whether she works ongoing with us or not!) a free 45-minute telephone consultation. Reread tip #11 and do something for you.