How to (Smartly) Plan for a Divorce When It’s Not What You Want

How to (Smartly) Plan for a Divorce When It’s Not What You Want

Even if whispered, the word “divorce” when it’s said to you can feel like a punch in the stomach, sucking the wind from your lungs and stopping your breath. Both overwhelming and shocking, you might struggle to take in its meaning, but as a river of stress floods your system, things become a blur. In fact, there is so much turmoil bottled up in that one word “divorce”, that when hit with it, most women aren’t sure how to find a path forward.

So, how do you plan for a divorce when you feel derailed by the emotions of it all?

How can you plan when you’ve never been divorced before, and you feel confused and afraid of its every aspect now? You wonder these things at the same time even more questions keep flying at you.

Will you be alone for the rest of your life?

He doesn’t mean it. Does he really mean it?

What about the kids?

Weren’t you enough? What was it you did wrong EXACTLY?

How will you ever survive? Will you lose the house?

Why did this happen now of all times, after all you’ve been through?

Who will get the cat?

Will anyone ever love you again?

The never-ending questions and thoughts filling your head can seem insurmountable. But know, they can also get in the way of protecting you. And you deserve to be protected and understood.

When facing a divorce you didn’t expect, your possible shut-down, denial, or perplexity to it all, is utterly normal and human. But at the same time, we urge you to not bury your head, or hope that the divorce will go away. Chances are it took a lot for your spouse to say this to you. Chances are he’s been thinking this, and planning it in some way or another for a period of time. This suggests further, he is prepared for the next steps, logistically, mentally, and emotionally far more than you. And while, he does not get to dictate how things will go, no matter how much he’s been planning, a part of you must accept that the divorce is happening and you must prepare yourself.

What about that other part of you?

The part that wants to desperately fight for your marriage? The part that doesn’t believe in giving up? You can do something to support that part. You might suggest marriage or discernment counseling to your spouse to see if there is any hope left for the marriage. But recognize that you have no guarantee he will do it, or if you will succeed in repairing the marriage. At the end of the day, it cannot just be you fighting to hold on. It will take two of you to reinvest and rehabilitate your relationship. So, while the vote is out, we urge you to cover your bases. Invest in learning what you must do, if you must walk that hard path of divorce. 

Get support is the first step in how to plan smartly for a divorce – wanted or not

If there was ever a time working with a therapist was justified, it’s now.

A good therapist

Contact your insurance company, or go online, or ask your friends to help you identify and begin work with a therapist who has supported women dealing with divorce. In fact, ask the therapist specifically if they have experience helping women who have had to face an unwanted divorce. You deserve a safe, private space to let your feelings rip or wail or become “unstuffed” A good therapist will welcome the rage, the betrayal, the loss, the sadness, the silence, the shock, the pain, the numbness, the confusion, and help you understand what these feelings so critically need to tell you, and what’s more, what to do with them. This is about finding the emotional support you need as you face this crisis.

Consider reading “9 Kick-Ass Things to Do If Your Husband Leaves You.”

Friends & Family

If your friends or family ask how can they help you, what kind of support can they offer, ask them to help you find a therapist and then, give them this link to “How to Help a Friend Through a Divorce in 18 Loyal Ways”. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you need exactly. Again, you’ve never been here before. (But we have, which is why we wrote the How to Help a Friend article.)

Divorce Coach

Connecting with a therapist is the smart move to support your heart and your emotions. But there’s no getting around the fact that you must also engage with the black and whites of the divorce process, the logistics and sequencing of steps so you don’t go crazy. This involves your plan if you must go independent, and there are smart ways to go about it so you are more in control of the experience, its costs, and its gains.  (Yes, we said gains.)

If you are interested in protecting yourself and managing the divorce in the smartest, healthiest way (if the divorce happens, or not), we know you will want a divorce coach. A divorce coach knows the road and can help you slow down, structure things, take the right, timely action, stay accountable, and manage your own expectations of what is and isn’t possible.

Read more with  “Getting a Divorce Articles: Must Knows & Strategies

In particular, a divorce coach knows that your recovery and work getting there is going to involve other steps than what someone else who wanted her divorce needs. A divorce coach is going to be focused on you and your story and help you stay grounded and real as you face the road – and yourself.

This is because a good, certified divorce coach has seen it all, and their perspective is key. Sometimes, when we get into our own heads, we hold ourselves back. A divorce coach is going to help you navigate your divorce in a healthy and strategic way that feels doable.

Yes, you’ll actually feel like you’re getting things done and not just spinning in reaction to the D word.

You might be thinking, “Nah, my friends can help me deal with what I am facing.”

They can, but to be frank, they won’t have the same expertise. The reality is your friends are there to see your side of things. They want what’s best for you. But, they probably don’t understand divorce strategy, or how to sequence steps, or the differences between the models of divorce, or when to consult a lawyer, and when to get it done through mediation.

A divorce coach will be help you see the path in front of you, pace you, guide you and importantly help you stay focused on the biggest end goal that makes sense for your life.  A divorce coach cares how you will land on the other side of divorce, and they are setting you up to attain that Best Other Side.

If your mind is running to this question, how long will this take to get better?
Check out, “How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Divorce: 4 Signs You Are On Your Way.


Like so many women, you may feel utterly alone when hit with divorce. And that’s okay. But don’t stay there. Remind yourself, you are not alone and the time is now to circle the wagons. Bring in your most important people as you face what the next days bring. How to plan for the smartest divorce means accepting who you are and what you are feeling, and also, being smart and strategic so you don’t end up feeling like a doormat. The reality is, you could do this alone. But enlisting the right support will empower you and ensure your healthiest future. Take a big breath, and begin.


Since 2012, SAS for Women has been entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience and its confusing afterward. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists, and support strategies for you, and your future. Join our tribe and stay connected.


*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.”

Share these insights

Leave a comment or thought.
We`d love to hear what you are thinking after reading this post.