How to coparent when you hate your ex

How to Coparent When You Absolutely Hate Your Ex

Cutting the rope and letting go of a difficult Ex can be freeing—empowering and necessary, even. But what about when you can’t cut him* out of your life entirely? And you just hate him so much? Many women have to coparent with an Ex-husband they don’t particularly like or get along with. It sounds like hell, but it doesn’t have to be quite as miserable as that if you get clear in your head about what’s important.

And what’s important is your children.

Yes, you know that “it’s about the children,” but that does little to mitigate or heal your seething hatred for your Ex, does it? (We’ll get to that below.) For now, remember that other women—divorced moms like you—have navigated similarly difficult challenges. Think boundaries, think organization, think neutral ground. These concepts will make it easier for everybody

For instance, figure out how you are going to communicate with your Ex going forward. Establish boundaries so you feel more secure and less threatened or reactive to his behavior and what he says.

Use a custody calendar

Use a tool to make a schedule so there’s no question who has the children or when. Keeping a consistent schedule lets you talk to your Ex less while staying organized. Keep track of different schedules for holidays, summer breaks, and more, and make changes through the tool you choose. Also, a shared file can be a good way to let the other parent know about important things such as doctor’s appointments and school grades without talking to them directly.

Keep track of everything

Keeping a log of everyday things can help prevent many kinds of disagreements. Are you sharing expenses? Use a digital tracker to make things easy and keep each other accountable without having to communicate in person. Does your Ex often violate the terms set out in your parenting plan? If your Ex doesn’t follow your court order, keep track of every violation. Keep a file or use a digital tool with a journaling feature.

Separate your relationship with your Ex from your child’s

Allow your child to have a good relationship with your Ex. Just because you don’t want to see him doesn’t mean your child isn’t entitled to. Just because you don’t like him, doesn’t mean your child can’t get along with him. Your child has rights concerning access to you and his father. All the suggested steps in this post help you engage in self-care while doing what’s best for your child and letting them enjoy their father.

Use a third party for transfers—if you must

Don’t want to deal with your Ex every time either of you drops the kids off? Agree on a trustworthy third party to pick the kids up and drop them off at the other parent’s home or an agreed-upon meeting place—maybe a grandparent’s or friend’s house? Instead of feeling anxious or tense whenever it’s visiting time, you can send your child off with a smile and avoid any potential snide remarks or fights with your Ex.

Use a parenting coordinator

This is a last resort, but parenting coordinators who specialize in solving arguments in high-conflict situations and understand the needs of children can help you and your coparent resolve any ongoing disputes. A parenting coordinator will be familiar with the parenting plan you and your Ex have agreed upon and make sure both of you follow it. If your Ex is difficult to work with, having someone to keep them (and you) in line may relieve some of your stress and allow all parties involved to focus on your child and their best interests.

Speaking of…

Don’t badmouth your Ex

At least, not in front of him or your kids. While it can be healthy to get your feelings out to a friend, therapist, or coach, avoid exposing your children to negative comments or fights. Studies show that fighting between parents, even small disagreements or comments, have negative effects on children.

Children can tell when you and your coparent are in conflict, so avoid the big fights and the small comments in equal measure.

Seek support for you

Just because you are taking the high road wherever you can, doesn’t mean you’re not human, and at times, you need to wallow in the mud. Find the place where you are safe to express what you are really feeling. Find the place where you can start to heal and work on all the feelings you have as a result of the divorce. As you begin to truly understand what divorce recovery looks like you will come to terms with your feelings and deepen your healing process.

The right, nurturing place for you might be an online guided divorce support group for women that will help you commit to your intention and follow through—with the work that will move you beyond the hatred and who you truly want to be.

Focus on your child

Ultimately, your child is the focus of your relationship with your Ex now. When you start to waver, shift and keep the focus there, through all the resources available to you, while taking care of yourself. This is what you want to model to your child. This is what you want for yourself, too.

This article was authored by Daniela Chamorro, writer and researcher at Custody X Change, a custody app solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support, information, and smart next steps coparenting and rebuilding your life with Paloma’s Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

“I am so happy to have these sisters on the journey with me! Our connection is very powerful. It’s ended any sense of isolation or alienation that on and off, I’ve been struggling with. I feel understood — at last — because I know these women get it! They are going through the same thing. Thank you for bringing us together and creating Paloma’s Group!”

~ S.L., New York City

*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.

Breast cancer diagnosis

Breast Cancer Diagnosis: What You Need to Know

A note from SAS Cofounder Liza Caldwell

Dear Reader,

It happened. Life was moving beautifully for this 53-year-old, single woman. It was the end of June 2016, and I was preparing for a trip to Peru with my daughters. I was cleaning my hiking boots, having scheduled my shots and taken care of pesky medical exams. I was wondering … wondering if I was really up to the climbing we’d be doing … wondering what I’d gotten us into, really, when I got the follow-up phone call. 

Excuse me? No, that’s not part of the itinerary ….

The words “breast cancer diagnosis” stopped me and then threw me back in time. Stress swept up, blurring my thoughts until I was a little girl again. A dumb little girl again. I was misunderstanding most probably. On the phone, the doctor kept talking, using multi-syllable words while a million things surged in and out my head. Nothing was sticking. Except this little girl was going to die. 

But I haven’t died. Not by a long shot. I did go through a mental, physical and emotional contortion though, a crisis, and it’s one I’d like to see lessened for you should you ever be struggling with similar news. Because this can happen out of the blue. It only happens out of the blue! when suddenly you’ve joined legions of other women who’ve fought and survived breast cancer.

This post is about what you must know if you are given a breast cancer diagnosis. But allow me to emphasize three things up front.

First, a breast cancer diagnosis no longer means a death sentence. We are lucky that today more than 80 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer (women and men) go on to live the lives they were meant to live. 

Secondly, put this in your muscle memory: a good question to ask a doctor if you’ve just received news of a cancer diagnosis or anything as frightening …

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how life threatening is this tumor (plug in any issue) you’ve just found?”

Because you need anchoring when you’ve been told something as serious as this, and some doctors who see cancer (or serious issues) everyday fail to remember we don’t. We have no clue what the prospect is for life after. And thanks to stress flooding our prefrontal cortex, our ability to think straight or formulate questions go out the window.

Ask that question,”how threatening on a scale of 1-10″ to curb the stress and get some perspective.

Then, thirdly, grab your best friend. And with his or her support seek several medical opinions from breast surgeons. You want a breast surgeon with an excellent record performing the kind of surgery you need specifically. You ALSO want a breast surgeon who is particularly sensitive to the scar your surgery will leave. As the female surgeon I ultimately chose told me — months after my surgery —

“I spend the majority of my time in the operating room paying attention to how I’ve gone in to remove the cancer and especially, what my exit path looks like. It is cosmetic, because what helps a woman heal is not only being told she is cancer-free afterwards but that eventually, there is less and less of a scar to see. She’s not reminded of her trauma every time she looks in the mirror. Recovery has a lot to do with mindset.”

Two years beyond my diagnosis, I’ve finally made it to Peru, and as for the day to day, I look great is what I am told! I don’t think about it anymore but to be grateful because my diagnosis caught the cancer so early. I am also grateful for my exceptionally skilled surgeon. Grateful for my amazing and dear friend, Susan who accompanied me to all the medical exams, and procedures and who made the nurses, doctors and me laugh. And grateful for my daughters who, joining this group of extraordinary women showed me there ain’t no mountain high enough.

If you are ever diagnosed with breast cancer, chances are you will be lucky like me.  

What you need to know about your breast cancer diagnosis

Across the country, hundreds of thousands of women feel the effects of breast cancer, whether they have recently been diagnosed, are actively fighting it, are a survivor, or have a loved one who has been through these stages. Breast cancer is a reality that most women don’t want to think about, but one in eight women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Fortunately, there are also over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors alive and thriving in the United States today. With the support and knowledge of these brave survivors, the growing research about breast cancer, and your own network of friends and family, you can take the appropriate steps at each stage to ensure that you live the healthiest and fullest life possible.

Before breast cancer: the common causes and risks

Despite the widespread effects of breast cancer, the exact causes of the disease are still unknown. Researchers do know that any type of cancer involves the body’s cells multiplying uncontrollably and excessively. With breast cancer, the rapid cell growth typically starts in the inner lining of the breast’s milk ducts or lobules, which are tiny glands that produce milk for breastfeeding.

While experts haven’t been able to pinpoint what exactly spurs cancer’s rapid cell growth, they have been able to identify likely risk factors, many of which are preventable. If you’re concerned about your own risk of developing breast cancer, you can mitigate that risk by knowing these likely factors:

  • Genetics: Your risk for breast cancer may be higher if a close relative has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been linked with developing both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
  • Age: While women of all ages can develop breast cancer, the risk increases with age. A 20-year-old woman’s chance of developing breast cancer within the next decade is 0.6 percent, while a woman who is 70 years old has a 3.84 percent chance.
  • Body weight: Those who are overweight, especially after menopause, may run a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This is possibly due to higher levels of estrogen in the body, which has been linked to the development of breast cancer. It could also be because of high sugar intake.
  • High alcohol consumption: According to some studies, women who consume more than three drinks per day have a risk of developing breast cancer that is 1.5 times higher than those who don’t drink as much alcohol.

While these risk factors have been linked to breast cancer diagnoses, no single factor has been guaranteed to result in breast cancer.

Preventing breast cancer: what steps you can take to avoid a diagnosis

No matter how much you may crave the ability to change your genetics or age, those risk factors are, unfortunately, set in stone. However, you can do your best to manage other risks, like alcohol and food consumption, to lower your chances of developing breast cancer.

Many women associate an increase in stress with an increased risk of breast cancer, as stories of women finding lumps in their breasts after going through a divorce or a losing a loved one are startlingly common. Researchers have investigated this possibility as well. A Scandinavian study found that among women who perceived their lives to be more stressful, there was an increased risk for breast cancer.

It’s important to remember that these scientists have not found a definite cause and effect between the negative emotions and bodily reactions that come with stress and breast cancer diagnoses. While chronic stress has been thought to weaken your immune system, this type of bodily reaction rarely happens in isolation. When stressed, people tend to eat, drink, and smoke more, all of which could factor heavily into an increased risk for cancer.

One of the best ways to minimize your chances of developing breast cancer, especially if you feel you are predisposed because of genetics, age, or stress, is to stick to a strategic breast cancer diet plan. Research has shown that changing what you eat and how you exercise can prevent as much as 30 percent of breast cancer diagnoses. If you’re looking to eat the best foods possible to lower your risk, consider working these nutritional wonders into your daily meals:

  • Fibrous foods: Studies in nutritional science have shown that foods high in fiber can help lower the amounts of estrogen in your body, reducing your risk of breast cancer. These fibrous fighters include nuts, beans, and whole wheat bread.
  • Sources of omega-3: Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that are not produced in your body naturally, so you must put in the work to get them in there. Fatty acids are important because they help with inflammation, which can damage otherwise healthy tissue. Try turning to salmon, walnuts, and oysters for your fatty acid intake.
  • Sulforaphane and carotenoids: These nutritional compounds have both been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer when consumed in increased amounts. Sulforaphane can be found in arugula, cabbage, and broccoli, while carotenoids are found in carrots, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.

A breast cancer diagnosis: what next?

Sometimes, even when you take all the right preventative measures, those cancer cells decide to multiply anyway, and then it’s time for you to fight it. The first step is to see a surgical oncologist, who is a surgeon with a specialty in removing cancer. Your oncologist will be able to give you your breast cancer prognosis. Often, your physician will recommend a surgeon, and they are a great place for you to start. Many women may seek a second opinion as well to understand all their options.

While you want to take the time to consider all your treatment options, you will also want to act fast to remove the cancer as soon as possible. Be sure to have a reliable support network of family and friends during this time. They will be essential in helping you make decisions and necessary shoulders to lean on during this time. There are also vast networks of breast cancer patients and survivors throughout the country. Connecting with patients in the same circumstances as yourself can be extremely helpful throughout the process.

Your breast cancer prognosis may look slightly different than others, but no matter who you are, if you are diagnosed, one of the best things to do is keep your spirits up. With today’s medical options, the average five-year survival rate is 90 percent and the average 10-year rate is 83 percent. Millions of women and men live long and healthy lives after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis and it often begins with choosing the right mindset.

 

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 change and reinvention. Women facing a major life challenge, transition or calling are invited to schedule a FREE consultation with SAS to discuss your next smartest moves. “Life — your life — is calling you.”

 

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.”

8 Reasons I am Grateful for My Divorce This Thanksgiving

8 Reasons I Am Grateful for My Divorce This Thanksgiving (and All Days)

We are emerging from the midterms. The country is either celebrating or cursing, and we the people in our country remain polarized. Some of us are fearful of Thanksgiving and the oncoming holidays. Who will we be seated next to? What will come up in conversation? And how strong will our bandwidth for patience be? Will politics undermine our annual gathering as it did for a lot of us last year? Will the knife slice through the turkey and right through to the table, frustrating, infuriating, devastating us again as the political and cultural war divides us not only on a map, but also inside our homes?

I spoke to a client this week, I’ll call “Phoebe.” Phoebe, who is divorced after decades in a stagnant marriage, told me she was worried, because she’d been invited by her son and his new wife for Thanksgiving. She was excited, but especially worried. She and her son had been at a standoff for too long, not talking, and it had been a source of deep anguish for Phoebe, a mother who loves her son. Suddenly, her son (perhaps encouraged by his new wife) was extending an olive branch after two years, and asking his mother to come to their house and to join them and his wife’s family for Thanksgiving.

Phoebe is worried because she’s met her daughter in law’s family briefly not long ago. But what’s more, she’s seen their Facebook postings and, politically speaking, her daughter-in-law and her family are polar opposites of Phoebe. Phoebe is unnerved and alternately outraged. What has her son married into? …What will the father-in-law say? He’s an advocate for the NRA … There’s his postings about immigration issues ….

Just telling me what she’d seen online stoked Phoebe more. Phoebe is Jewish, and the recent, horrific killing of 11 people in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh followed by the menacing shout of “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!” in a Baltimore theater not long after have heightened Phoebe’s fear about rising anti-Semitism—and all isms, because she is a thinking woman.

She is also an ecumenical minister, so as much as she was starting to go there — that is open up and be raw, allowing her dark feelings to run … in a moment’s time, too, she stopped. And then …

She told herself aloud, that her mantra going into this loaded home and situation would be to just be grateful.

And if she were challenged, if something insidious was said, she would try to redirect the conversation to show that we are more than this hatred.

We each are more than this hatred.

Phoebe and I talked more, sharing how we both believe a leader will emerge who will help us, someone who will help us forge the divide. But until our next Martin Luther King Jr. arrives, we have only ourselves.

It’s on each of us.

In the spirit of the holidays and the challenges we face, here are eight reasons I am grateful for my divorce this Thanksgiving and all days.

1.  I can totally disregard all comments if I choose

I am a divorced, independent woman after all. I didn’t go through all of this only to let others bring me down again.

2.  And as a divorced, independent woman, I am grateful I can choose how I want to spend Thanksgiving and how I want to show up

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’d like to host a Walton’s Thanksgiving, on a long pine table in a room warmed by a fireplace and invite every single person I love. Every single person who’s showed me kindness, who’s showed me I was worthy in this new chapter of my life.

I’d also like to be with both my daughters, but my eldest has just moved to San Francisco and started a new job, so this year the Waltons are not in the cards. My youngest daughter and our friends will go for a hike and then have Thanksgiving dinner at a little French restaurant across the river—but I came up with the plan. I do believe in putting some effort in for the holidays. I do believe in making a plan!

3.  I don’t have to cook all day to make sure it’s the consummate experience for everyone

Not this Thanksgiving, or ever. I am not on the hook for producing dinners or meals regularly in the rest of my life. I did it. I did it well. And now I am moving on. I am grateful for that.

It’s never the table or warmth or setting or food (though, it helps) that ultimately determines the high I get from gathering around the table anyway. It’s the people, and beyond the people, it’s the joy. I endeavor to remember that joy is always there for us, if we remember where it lives in our bodies and connect to it and be still.

4.  I am grateful for having discovered me

I never would have where I was. Thus, every day is Thanksgiving.

5.  I am grateful for losing many poisonous relationships

One sheds many scales and skins going through a breakup and divorce recovery. It’s a painful but liberating process.

6.  I am grateful for all the people who came flooding into my life

As a result of the shedding!

I’ve always been lucky with good people in my life, but since stepping out of my box, I’ve met such exciting, smart, and deep people. Wonderful men and wonderful women who connect with me sometimes because I am unaccompanied, because I am unguarded. (And then, of course, there’s OkCupid.)

Learning how to converse helps. Just as learning how to converse this Thanksgiving may be very helpful for a lot of us. I recommend this piece on smart and sensitive conversations not only for social gathering but also for honing good dating skills.

7.  I can recognize flaws and vices in myself

More importantly, I can keep forgiving myself for them and keep trying. I’ve shown myself before that I CAN change things.  I am grateful for that.

8.  I am grateful that I have learned about the life-giving force of gratitude

Gratitude and the word “grace” come from the same Latin word “gratus.” When we feel gratitude, our hearts and bodies soften, and we’re able to be with the world and ourselves more fully. We feel an interconnectedness and flow. And that too is joy.

At SAS for Women, we are grateful for each and every one of you reading and endeavoring to shift your experiences. We wish you pure, distilled joy this Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. Remember, for each day and its tradition, make a plan that may become a new tradition for you and those you love.

 

Whether you are considering a divorce, navigating it, or already rebuilding after the overwhelming 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 and reinvention. SAS offers all women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future self.

“Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS for Women

How to leave your husband

How to Leave Your Husband and Slay Considering Divorce Syndrome

If you’ve been suffering from an undiagnosed case of Considering Divorce Syndrome (CDS) — where you keep revisiting the prospect of divorce in your head — there comes a point when you must decide whether to break the cycle of indecision or continue living in a painful limbo replaying what you know but doing nothing about it. Make no mistake that choosing to remain in the place you know, spinning in that cycle of Considering Divorce Syndrome, may feel safe. Yet research shows, the cumulative effect on your body can be very real and life-threatening, too. The fact is for you to recover your health, your clarity, your very sense of self, you are going to have to do something. If you’ve found your way to this post, then you’ve likely already made that decision on some level. You may know it’s time to end your marriage. But what you’re not sure about is how to leave your husband*.

After you decide something has got to change, and it may mean leaving him, it’s important to maintain your momentum — to keep pushing forward — smartly, so you have no regrets. Humans excel at getting comfortable. We rationalize and look for reasons that form cracks in our resolve. Fear seeps in. Fear tries to keep us from falling apart by telling us not to move at all, by telling us that what we should really be afraid of is the unknown. The devil we don’t know. But fear does nothing for us except hold us back. Fear is not enough of a reason to stay in your marriage.

You need a game plan. We’re here to help you determine the best path forward because you already know all the whys—now you need to understand exactly how to leave your husband.

Commit to leaving your marriage with integrity

Get educated and understand what your decision could look like. Do not waste your precious life hoping your marriage will repair itself, or that you must know with 100 percent certainty that you want a divorce to find out what is truly possible for you.

Begin by taking safe, appropriate action. Write down the most important questions you have about getting a divorce.

Review your questions, and find the professional who can answer most of them

Do this well in advance of making any real decisions, like yelling “I want a divorce!” to your husband. You’ll want your ducks in a row (those ducks being organized finances, knowing the laws in your state, what to say to your children, etc.) before you unleash your husband’s (emotional, possibly retaliative) reaction to your decision.

Back up. The fact is you have questions … and you don’t know what else you don’t know.

Going directly to a lawyer is not our suggested first step. (No kidding, you say! Having read that we are divorce coaches …)   The truth is lawyers are expensive and they are not trained to give you the total picture of what you’ll likely go through and need to decide about, to navigate smartly AND recover healthily from divorce. Besides, do you know what kind of legal model you might use to best resolve your marriage issues? Are you really a candidate for mediation? Getting educated on what your choices are first, will help you choose the right lawyer to consult with. It will save you money and also empower you to discover answers from other people who may be more aptly trained to support you and your kind of questions.

A divorce coach is the generalist who can give you the overview you need and also, the specific black and white next steps that make most sense for your unique circumstances. And their professional rate is far lower than an attorney’s. Chances are, a divorce coach can also present you with a menu of lawyers you might consider based on her experience of other clients using them. You can find coaches online who will give you a free consultation (be sure to look for coaching certification and divorce experience).

But if you’re focused strictly on the legal aspect of getting a divorce, then you may want to read 10 Things to Know Before Meeting with a Lawyer and then schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney. If you’re only concerned about assets, how you are going to divvy things up, how will you handle the debt? contact a certified divorce financial analyst.

Anyway you slice it, you need to move from an internal conversation with yourself (as well as midnight Google searches on “how to get a divorce?”) to an external conversation with someone who understands the process of divorce—an expert on the topic who can give you the answers that you need for your story.

If you are super strapped for cash, and you wonder how much will a divorce cost? Can you even afford one? Google your state or city’s divorce services, your city or state’s bar, and see what comes up (this isn’t exactly the best route, but it is a route). Many states offer reduced rate or free legal services to women who can prove income qualifications.

Warning: Anecdotal information from other people (how your neighbor’s friend’s second cousin got screwed by her Ex) does not help you understand what is possible for your life. Plus, talking to a professional is confidential and more objective, whereas Betty next door might tell Barbra, Alexis, Jen, and Meredith, the whole neighborhood, you brought up the big-bad D-word in conversation.

You’re going to need to develop strategies to block, deflect, and set boundaries

Speaking of Betty next door (you know that neighbor or family friend who likes to gossip), you’re going to need to either block conversations with well-meaning but unhelpful people or learn to deflect well and setup boundaries with notorious boundary-crossers.

Here are three helpful techniques to block, change the subject, and establish boundaries with people in your life who are like Betty.

Betty: “So, I hear you’re getting a divorce. Did your husband cheat on you?”

Block: “I don’t really want to talk about my divorce right now. How about we focus on the neighborhood watch meeting?”

Betty: “If you needed someone to talk to, I have a very sympathetic ear. Wanda leaned on me throughout her entire nightmare!”

Deflect: “I’m glad to hear Wanda trusts you so much. How has she been lately?”

Betty: “Do you really think it’s going to happen? I mean is it official? Did you try couple’s counseling first?”

Set boundaries: “We are officially over, but I really don’t want to talk about the stages we took to get to this point.”

If Betty makes repeated attempts, keep giving her repeated answers: I don’t want to talk about my divorce right now. I don’t want to talk about the stages we took to get to this point. I don’t want to divulge the details you are asking.

And if things progress and get far too obnoxious, you can always “lose” Betty’s number or be “far too interested” in other people’s lives at group functions and avoid Betty all together when she clearly doesn’t get the message.

Get your papers and statements organized

While what you need for divorce varies from state to state, you can search Google for the best documents to organize for a divorce. A lawyer or a financial person is going to need to look at some of those documents you’ve gathered to give you black and white answers and projections—information you will need for long-term planning and decision-making now.

If finding out if you should divorce includes giving every chance to reviving your marriage, for the sake of your heart or, at the very least, your children, consider discernment counseling to help you determine how to best progress forward.

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Shore up your resolve on Should You or Shouldn’t You Divorce? and take an action step: listen to our free video class that helps you reframe this question AND also, how to avoid the 4 big mistakes women make in divorce. Suit up and slay Considering Divorce Syndrome.

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Attend consultations and take classes

Gain a better understanding of what you’ll be going through with your divorce by joining an educative support group or class. If the group is facilitated by a professional, many of your questions might be answered and you will feel less alone, less isolated, less crazy. Whether you choose to explore discernment counseling or not, as a modern woman looking at her future, you deserve to know your rights and what you are entitled to. Coaches, experts and teachers understand that you might be smart, but you don’t know the process of divorce and what to expect. They don’t judge. They understand your situation and help you learn and feel empowered.

Take in the information at home

Let what you’ve learned mull over in your mind and see what new questions or concerns pop up later. If you are still undecided and some of your questions have been left unanswered, you can always call back the pro you met with, look for another professional for help, or seek a second opinion from another pro in the same industry. A child therapist, for example, would be better positioned to suggest the best things to do to support your kids through divorce. A financial professional who deals with divorce, would be better trained to answer your pressing questions about money.

Be sure to ask your therapist or divorce coach for direction if you feel lost or numb to the process of divorce

This becomes especially important if you start to feel that you are shutting down. You need help addressing what anxieties are causing you to feel ambivalent to your own divorce. You need solid steps and actions to take while getting a divorce or you could be facing a very rough future.

Leaving your husband is not a zero-sum decision

It’s rare that anyone facing divorce will feel that, 100 percent of the time, she is making the absolute best decision.  Instead, you will feel fed up and will reach a tipping point that tells you that it’s time. And even after you’ve made that decision and you follow through, you may have days where those feelings waiver. Knowing what you do know and acting smartly is another great reason to consult with a divorce coach through this process.

Your head and your heart aren’t always going to agree during this process

Today your head says divorce and your heart is screaming YOU STILL LOVE HIM! Tomorrow your head listens to your heart, but then your heart decides it’s not happy. Thoughts and emotions are going to clash, collide, agree, disagree, shift, and change throughout the process of divorce. Putting yourself on a set path and following through is your best plan for health and improving your life; you can’t wait for your heart and your head to align. It will happen eventually, however, if you do the work.

Be sure to develop a divorce plan with a healthy strategy

Really be sure to ask yourself: do you know what a healthy divorce looks like? You can start to form a picture by reading books on what makes for a healthy, smart divorce, or work with a divorce coach. Either way, you’ll need to commit to a divorce with intention and compassion not only for your children and your future Ex — but for yourself.

Compassion for the self starts and continues with an understanding of who you are and an acknowledgement of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Your emotions, those un-boxable feelings exist for a reason. Learning to listen to your wants, needs, feelings, fears, and hopes is what you need to do right now. Understanding that they are there, and why, helps you reframe them, do something with them and also detach from them so you can effectively navigate the black and white part of the divorce. Learning to acknowledge and detach will also help keep you on a healthy path to your newly single, independence.

The decision to divorce is painful but so is the journey to reach that decision

There are things you can do to help yourself through the pain and overwhelm once you’ve accepted, you must leave your husband. It begins with the conscious decision to set an intention. How do you want to do this? With the greatest integrity, smarts and compassion for everybody — including yourself — is a choice. Will you choose that? More steps are related 1) gaining a better understanding of what your options are, 2) knowing that no choice (except your commitment to your intention) is going to be the absolute perfect or right choice (sometimes it might feel like you’re picking the least bad in a slew of terrible choices), 3) getting educated in the process of divorce specifically in your state and for your circumstances, 4) and looking for help through direct feedback consultations, classes or support groups will support your intention in the most healthy, anchoring and life-affirming way. On that we give you 100 percent clarity.

Remember: no matter what that little voice inside your head says, you’re not trapped. Tell your fear, there are ways out and you are going to find them.

 

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 joining SAS’ Annie’s Group, our all-female divorce support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Annie’s Group teaches you what a woman must know (emotionally, practically, legally, financially) about divorce.  Schedule your 15-minute chat with facilitator and SAS Cofounder Liza Caldwell to learn if this education is right for you and where you are in your life. To keep the safety and confidentiality of the group, space is limited. 

 

 *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.”

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.”