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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.

Unfortunately, financial abuse occurs in 99% of all domestic abuse cases, and the effects can negatively impact survivors for years after they escape. Leaving an abusive relationship is only the first step, and many people can feel financially overwhelmed once they are out and on their own.

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.) And consider this article for steps you can take to rebuild your financial identity and credit.

Gather proof

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

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

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

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

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

File a report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hire an attorney

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

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

Stow away what’s important to you

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

Just in case, have a getaway plan

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

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

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

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

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

What to do after leaving an abusive marriage

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

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

But you are not alone.

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

You do have strength. We believe in you.

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

Whether you are considering a divorce or already navigating the confusing experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone. Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of Divorce. “A successful divorce requires smart steps, taken one at a time.” – SAS for Women 

 

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

35 divorce books on divorce for your head and heart

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

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

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

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

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

Beginning the Process of Divorce

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

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

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

 

Using Your Head While You Divorce

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Caring For Your Heart

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Helping Your Children

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

For Yourself

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Divorce with kids can be challenging.

8 Things to Get You Through Divorce with Kids

It seems a truism that parenting is hard. But when you’re in the midst of a divorce, or trying to rebuild your life as a newly-single parent, the challenges multiply and can even strike you unawares. For support and solace — to get through a divorce with kids no matter their age — follow these important suggestions and practices below. Doing so will lessen the bumps as much as possible for you, for your children, and for the entire family.

Retain some consistency

Research shows children thrive on consistency. Wherever possible, bring a sense of familiarity to their changing lives. This can apply to your own decisions, big and small—like whether to move within the neighborhood or keep dinner at the usual time. It can also mean working with your Ex to create consistent rules and habits between both your households.

Put your children’s well-being first

In some cases, you may need an emergency or temporary custody order from a court to ensure your children stay out of harm’s way. Or perhaps the opposite is true, and you need to admit that allowing your children to spend time with your Ex is for the best, even if you don’t personally like it. In every decision, ask yourself what would most benefit your young ones.

Find common ground with your Ex

As much as you can, put the past aside so you can focus on the best future for your children. Compromise wherever you can, so you don’t get caught up in “winning.” The more divorcing spouses are able to come up with their own solutions, the faster the legal proceedings can end. Maybe you’re in a deadlock over who gets the house, but can you at least start by agreeing that the kids should remain in their school?

Make a detailed parenting plan

Everything you and your Ex agree on regarding coparenting should go into a parenting plan for approval by a judge. To avoid confusion or debate, make your plan as detailed as possible. Think about specifics like who can apply for a passport for the kids or how long you’ll wait if your Ex is late for a pickup. A parenting plan template can walk you through commonly included items so nothing is missed. Include anything important to you, so there’s no room for ambiguity.

Consider your children’s ages

Children process divorce differently depending on their developmental stage. Make sure your conversations about the divorce are age-appropriate, as is the coparenting schedule you select. Infants and toddlers need frequent contact with parents to develop secure relationships. Older children are able to handle longer periods away from each parent, but need their social lives accounted for.

Know and understand, that regardless of your children’s age, they are entitled to certain rights regarding their relationship with you and their father.

Be flexible

Even long after your divorce, unanticipated situations will arise. If you and your Ex can make decisions together as you go, rather than returning to court or mediation, life will be much easier. Your parenting plan itself may need to change, too. Coparents often modify their plans multiple times as their children grow.

Attend coparenting counseling

Coparenting counseling combines parenting education topics (child development, disciplinary methods, etc.) with counseling specific to your situation. The counselor can help you and your Ex work on things like communication and emotion management together or separately. Sessions can lead to a smoother transition not only for the two of you but for the whole family.

Get help wherever possible

Resources are plentiful for women going through divorce with kids. Don’t be ashamed to use as many as are helpful to you. Go to a large bookstore and look in the self help section. Often you will find a divorce section and in particular, books about divorce and kids: adult book and children’s books. Have you contacted your children’s school and asked what resources they recommend? Investigate them. Your court’s self-help center can help explain the legal processes of divorce with kids. Custody software like Custody X Change can help organize your coparenting. You also have support groups and classes at your fingertips.

This article was authored by Shea Drefs: senior editor and researcher at Custody X Change, a custody software solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is entirely dedicated to the unexpected challenges women face while considering a divorce and navigating the divorce experience. SAS offers women six FREE months of email coaching, action plans, checklists and support strategies for you, your family, and your future. “Divorce can be on your terms.” – SAS For Women

 

Getting through a divorce

Getting Through a Divorce: How to Keep Your Head Straight

Getting through a divorce will be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. And your difficulties will start at the very beginning.

If you were the one who decided that divorce was the best way to change the difficulties in your marriage, you know the agony you experienced in coming to your decision. You second-guessed yourself again and again, and throughout your struggle to reach a decision, you faced uncertainties and fears.

Yet, because of your uncertainties and fears, you gathered information, worked through some of your emotions, and maybe planned a bit to make your transition from married to singledom easier.

Easier, but not easy. Telling your spouse you’re finished is definitely not easy. And once he* knows, things will get more difficult because it isn’t just about you anymore — and what your thinking and feeling internally. Now you’re both dealing with the repercussions of your decision. But your partner, or soon-to-be Ex, will not be in sync with you. He’s going to need time to metabolize what all this means.

If your divorce has been forced upon you, then the beginning of your divorce journey was probably shocking. Maybe it was upsetting because you never thought your spouse would actually go through with it. Or maybe you never even saw it coming.

And because your divorce isn’t of your choosing, you’re stuck playing catch up. You must find some way to not only make sense of what’s happening but to begin taking the necessary legal steps to end your marriage.

You also need to accept that you’re not in sync with him. He has been preparing for divorce emotionally, practically, and maybe even legally before you even knew what was happening.

Whichever side of the divorce decision you were on, there are times when you’re probably thinking, “It’s not fair.” And you’d be right. It’s not, but fairness has nothing to do with the realities of getting through a divorce—only (hopefully) with the legal divorce process.

So, no matter how your divorce journey begins, getting through a divorce is not intuitive. It’s difficult emotionally and logistically.

Yet, there are concrete thoughts that you can hold onto that will help you as you continue on your divorce journey:

You’re getting divorced for a reason

It’s heartbreaking to think about ending your marriage when you consider the shared hopes and dreams you and your spouse had at the start. Yet there’s still an important reason your divorce is happening right now; your marriage is broken beyond repair. So, take a deep breath and remember you are here, going through a divorce. It’s in motion.

Seeking justice for your emotional pain will not serve you

No-fault divorce is a very good thing. It means that people can get divorced without having to prove that one or the other has done something so reprehensible that it requires the marriage to be dissolved.

What it also means is that the courts don’t care about your emotional pain. They know divorce hurts. They know that getting through a divorce is probably one of the most difficult things you’ve ever faced. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are no laws to help you extract justice for the hurt you’re feeling.

All that insisting the courts make your spouse pay in some way for the pain you’re feeling will get you is higher legal fees. It will never ever truly ease your hurt.

Create goals that you can stay focused on

In general, goals are like guideposts. They allow you to channel your energy and thoughts toward achieving them.

When you’re going through a divorce, good solid goals can be the touchstones that remind you to stay focused on the big picture.

For example, if you have children, you may want to make their safety, security, health, and happiness throughout and beyond your divorce a goal. To reach your goal, you’ll want to develop your list of nonnegotiables. You’ll also want to know where you can be softer in your negotiations.

Remember your children are watching and learning

As you’re getting through a divorce, you are modeling for your children how to deal with stress, disappointment, and monumental life changes. Would you want your children to behave and react as you are?

If you don’t have children, get clear on the image of you and who you want to be

At one extreme you could be the woman who is completely unclear about what she wants outside of wanting her soon-to-be Ex to suffer horribly not only through the divorce but for the rest of his life. You might be willing to do whatever you can to ensure his suffering.

At the other extreme, you could be the leader through this challenge. You could focus on what you want and go about making it happen.

Keeping these thoughts in mind will definitely help you get through your divorce.

Yet, it’s almost impossible to do on your own

The real key to getting through a divorce is having someone you can turn to for support, someone who is your partner in thinking through every step of your divorce. A thinking partner is someone who can help you not only make it through your divorce but put the plans in place so you can thrive after it, too. A thinking partner has perspective.

The mistake most people make is using their lawyer as their sounding board. There are a couple of real problems with doing so. First, a divorce lawyer is an expert in the law—not how to help you get through your divorce. Second, when you use your lawyer as your thinking partner for anything other than legal issues, you’re wasting your money and energy—both of which are precious.

Having a strategy for how to think is just part of what you need to keep your head straight as you’re getting through a divorce

You also need to know it’s not only OK but necessary to let go of a few things:

  • Ancillary characters in your life and their less than helpful opinions. Save your energy, and do not overshare.
  • Continuing to be a superstar at work and everywhere else throughout your divorce. You cannot do everything well right now. Pick and choose where you put your efforts.
  • Being available to everyone for their needs. The simple truth is that you can’t be everything to everyone else right now. You’ve got to focus on you, so you come out strong in the end.

Without question, getting through a divorce is hard. However, you know now what’s important to keep straight in your head. And with this knowledge, you’ll be able to take the appropriate actions and make the appropriate decisions to get through your divorce, lessening the pain and diminishing your risk of regrets as much as possible.

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.”

Coparenting with a narcissist

Coparenting with a Narcissist

A person with narcissistic personality disorder has a veneer of generosity and kindness, but after marrying him*, when you really get to know each other, you discover that’s not who he is at all.

A narcissist controls and manipulates his spouse. But at first, this behavior seems so at odds with the person you thought you knew, that you feel confused, convincing yourself it’s nothing. Once the convincing becomes harder to do, the anger settles in.

Day in and day out, he dismissed your truth in favor of the “truth” he made up for you. Then he blamed you for how your “truth” made him feel.

Even after treating you poorly, he was confused when you didn’t feel like putting on a smile and happily meeting his needs. And that was on a good day.

On a bad day, he had a temper when you didn’t do what he thought you should. He would emotionally attack, verbally abuse, and possibly even get physical with you if you weren’t behaving the way he expected.

And the time suck! Your Ex demanded your attention regardless of the space you needed or what plans you had. He wanted every minute of your time to be spent with him or on activities he approved of.

Living with your narcissistic Ex was hell. And divorcing a narcissist is never easy. But that’s over. Now you’re on your own.

Yet your Ex isn’t completely out of your life. You still need to interact with him because you have children together. But coparenting with a narcissist isn’t easy either.

But there is some good news . . .

Now that you’re divorced, you’re not with your Ex all the time. You have some space to breathe and think without the persistent and all-consuming fear of how he will react.

You can choose to use this separateness to your benefit. Maybe this breather can give you perspective, so you can work on making yourself strong and becoming realistic about how your Ex is going to continue to behave.

He isn’t going to change—unless he embarks on an arduous and lengthy journey of healing.

It’s important to keep in mind how his personality is affecting your children. When your kids spend time with their other parent, whom they yearn to love and be loved by, they’re stepping back onto a minefield.

Coparenting with a narcissist means that you have to be the calm, reasonable, and affectionate parent. Narcissism prevents your Ex from reliably being an empathetic and nurturing parent. Your Ex’s focus is on his own experience and not your children’s.

As you continue thinking about coparenting with a narcissist, you’ll find yourself asking some serious and important questions:

How do you coparent effectively knowing that your Ex is always out to discredit and blame you—even in front of your children?

The truth is coparenting with a narcissist isn’t possible in the truest sense of the term “coparenting.” A narcissist is incapable of the collaboration and respect required to successfully coparent. He will always be looking out for his own interests regardless of what your children need. And because he isn’t able to put the children first, a narcissist can’t coparent.

The only way to share parenting responsibilities with a narcissist is to let him do his own thing while you do yours.

You must also be ready to help your children deal with the confusion they will have after spending time with or even just talking to their other parent.

Which brings up another great question . . .

How do you talk about your Ex with your kids?

This may be challenging, but when you talk about your Ex with your kids, you need to keep your opinions and experiences out of it. Focus on empathetically listening to your children and allowing them the space to come to their own conclusions and guide them into having the healthiest relationship possible with their other parent.

You may need to remind your kids that you are always available if things get to be too tough with their other parent. And you’ll also need to be aware that children are very good at getting what they want. Be on the lookout for your children trying to use your concern for them inappropriately.

How do you model “taking the high road” for your kids?

There’s greater pressure when you’re “coparenting” with a narcissist than if your coparent didn’t have a personality disorder. Not only do you have to deal with a narcissist, but you must be the model parent, so your children can learn what it means to deal with difficulty—how to deal with their other parent, how to be resilient, and how to be a well-adjusted adult.

This means that you aren’t getting sucked into drama with your Ex. That’s not the easiest of tasks since he knows how to play you like a fiddle, but you can start by setting clear boundaries.

When you know what you will and won’t tolerate, you can communicate that to your Ex. Then, when he disrespects those boundaries (as you know he will), you can firmly, calmly, and dispassionately let him know his behavior is unacceptable and that you will now take the appropriate and necessary action to remedy the situation.

These are just some of the questions that will come up with you attempt the court-required coparenting with a narcissist. One of the governing ideas to keep in mind as you continue raising your children together-ish is that your children’s other parent is all about himself.

His behavior and what he says is all about gaining the advantage over you and your children. The more you disengage from him, the more he will struggle to maintain control. However, by persistence and refusing to rise to the bait, you can successfully “coparent” with a narcissist and raise amazing children despite your Ex.

*For the sake of simplicity, in this article, we will refer to your spouse as “him” or “he” even though we know same-sex marriages exist and your spouse may be a “she,” or you are a man reading this article and your spouse is a “she.”

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the unexpected challenges they face navigating and recovering from divorce. Now, wherever you live, you can secure female-centered support, information, and next steps if you are thinking about/dealing with divorce or recreating your most meaningful life … post-divorce in our virtual divorce support groups for women. Classes start again in September. To keep the space safe and confidential, space is limited. Visit here for details.

Image about breaking up with a narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist? Here’s What You Need to Know

Calling someone a narcissist is so commonplace these days that, in many ways, the term has become nothing more than a buzzword. People use it loosely to refer to someone who’s behaving “selfishly”.

But a true pathological narcissist is a person who’s much more than selfish. According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissistic personality disorder “is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

Most women who fall in love with a narcissist do so because narcissists are so charming. They’re incredibly loving and affectionate. They treat you like no one has ever treated you before and sweep you off your feet. They seem too good to be true.

And that’s the truth of it—they are too good to be true, and their personality and behavior will change dramatically over time.

If you recognize the following as being “normal” in your marriage, you know you’re divorcing a narcissist:

  • Your husband* is controlling.
  • He doesn’t listen to or care about your opinions.
  • He makes everything about him.
  • He lies often.
  • He is emotionally abusive.
  • He has no emotional connection to your children.
  • He blames others for his actions.
  • He is manipulative.
  • He is exceptionally aggressive—perhaps dangerously so.
  • He is unaware of his bad behavior.
  • He feels entitled to what he wants.
  • He sees himself as perfect and worthy of unconditional admiration.
  • He rejects change initiated by anyone but himself.

Because of this last point, divorcing a narcissist is extremely challenging. He will fight you every single step of the way. He believes he is a victim and is willing to do just about anything to prove it.

Some of the biggest and most predictable challenges of divorcing a narcissist include dealing with the following behaviors and beliefs:

  • A narcissist MUST “win.” Because of this mindset, negotiating in good faith with a narcissist is impossible. He must prove he is right and a victim—regardless of what the truth is. He doesn’t care what it takes to “win” the divorce, even if that means depleting the marital finances (except for money he’s hidden), destroying relationships, and destroying you.
  • A narcissist will play games with you as long as he can. He needs to feel in control. He does this by being manipulative. He will keep you off balance by making false accusations, criticizing you one minute and telling you how much he loves you the next—anything to wear you down, so he can win.
  • A narcissist doesn’t care how anyone else feels about his actions, including his children. Narcissists only care about their own needs and desires. If someone can help them get what they want, then they will use that person without regard for the consequences.
  • A narcissist will use you to feel good about himself. By engaging you in a court battle (which he will absolutely do), he is using his control of you to make himself feel powerful. He wants the divorce process to take as long as possible. Yes, that does mean he will lie to prolong the process. It’s unlikely he will stop trying to use you after the divorce settlement—even if he is in another relationship. The more people a narcissist can control the better.
  • A narcissist wants you to admit defeat. He wants you to give in to his demands and bow to his power. But not just once—he won’t ever get tired of you surrendering to his superiority.
  • A narcissist wants everyone else to see him as a victim. No matter how horrid he is behaving toward you (and maybe even his children), he craves the pity and support of others, so he can use that pity against you.He will lie repeatedly and quite convincingly (especially if he is charming and wealthy) to perpetuate his role as victim and paint you as a heartless villain. He will even lie to your children and family about you. He wants to turn those closest to you against you because he wants you to have nothing left.
  • A narcissist will attack your weaknesses. That usually means he will go after your children and money. He will remove you from joint accounts or withdraw all the money from them. He will hide money. He will run up your bills any way he can think of. He will also do his best to turn your children against you.
  • A narcissist will take you back to court again and again. As far as he is concerned, the battle is never over so long as he has some leverage. And the leverage is usually your children. He will register the children for activities during your time with them without consulting you. He will “forget” to pick up the kids when he knows you have other plans. He will return the children later than agreed to. He will not respect the custody agreement.

But since you now have an idea of what divorcing a narcissist is like, you can prepare for the battle ahead instead of being ambushed.

Here are some steps you’ll want to take to minimize the damage you suffer during and after your divorce:

  • Make sure your attorney is aware of the problem and is proactive. You want your attorney to have experience dealing with high-conflict divorces and know what to expect from a narcissist. When they’re properly experienced and prepared, they can shut down at least some of the standard tactics a narcissist will use in court (if you must go there).
  • Get a therapist who specializes in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you were married to a narcissist, your marriage was full of emotional abuse. Any kind of abuse can lead to PTSD. You will probably want to consider working with a therapist to help you regain your emotional footing.
  • Hire a divorce coach. Learning how a divorce coach can help you stay anchored (and using one!) could be one of your most important moves for securing perspective, strength, and support. Your divorce coach will also help you process the grief, loneliness, anger, and other tumultuous emotions you’ll have before, during, and beyond. If necessary, your divorce coach can even join you throughout the court proceedings. But your “beyond” is critical. Your divorce coach is going to make sure you stay mindful to creating the life you DO deserve.
  • Keep copies of EVERYTHING. Especially when it comes to expenses, you’ll want to keep detailed records of everything. It’s VERY likely that you’ll be going to court repeatedly. The only way you’ll be able to quickly put an end to each new drama when it arises is to have indisputable facts. And that’s what the detailed records are—indisputable facts.
  • Assume all communication with a narcissist is risky. Whenever you communicate with a narcissist, keep things direct, to the point, and non-confrontational. This is the only way to prevent him from using your written or spoken words against you.

When divorcing a narcissist, you must prepare for war. You will face many battles because a narcissist wants to destroy you at virtually any cost.

But when you understand more about a narcissist’s profile (what you can and cannot expect from him) and begin to value your own self-worth—getting the full support you need and deserve—you will eventually have the peaceful life you’re looking for, the life you were meant to live.

SAS women are those amazing ladies you meet who are entirely committed to navigating divorce—on their own terms. If you are considering or dealing with divorce, you are invited to experience SAS for Women firsthand and schedule your free, 45-minute, private consultation. Whether you work further with us or not, we’ll help you understand what your next, black and white steps are for walking into your brave unknown—with compassion and integrity.

* SAS for Women fully recognizes same-sex and common-law marriages. But for the sake of simplicity in this article, we refer to your spouse or mate as “he,” “him,” or your “husband.”

Conscious uncoupling it is still a thing?

Conscious Uncoupling: Is It Really Still a Thing?

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin brought conscious uncoupling to our collective attention when they announced their split in 2014. But very little has been said about it since. If you’re wondering if conscious uncoupling is still a thing or if it was just a flash in the pan, celebrity fad, you’re not alone.

Conscious uncoupling is still around. In fact, it has been since the 1970s.

Its longevity reflects the fact that more and more people don’t want to experience divorce the way people used to. They’re frustrated with the obligatory acrimony. They want a divorce that’s as peaceful as possible and hopefully a whole lot better for bringing their marriage to a conclusion.

Why are some spouses choosing a different ending for their marriage?

Because everyone close to them is watching—their families, friends, colleagues and, most importantly, children. They want to be an example of how to respect someone even when you disagree with them, and they want to continue working together to raise their amazing children.

In fact, successfully coparenting is one of the primary goals of most people who choose a conscious uncoupling approach to divorce. They know that having a relationship with their children’s other parent is necessary because coparenting means parents work closely together to raise their children even if they’re no longer married, living together, or romantically involved. People who choose conscious uncoupling understand that it’s important for their children to have equal access to and foster their relationship with both parents.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the way most couples approach divorce or parenting post-divorce.

“Unconscious uncoupling” is the norm

When spouses unconsciously make choices that affect both their and their children’s lives, they behave in reactionary and unfortunate ways.

Some examples of poor behavior common among couples who divorce unconsciously are blaming, raging, and attacking—verbally, emotionally, or financially. The problem with this, beyond the obvious pain these couples inflict on each other, is that their children often witness this behavior, leaving them confused and feeling the need to take sides.

How horrible that any child should feel the need to choose between their parents—yet this is what happens. Every. Single. Time. That is, every single time a couple unconsciously uncouples. No exceptions.

If you’re contemplating divorce, don’t let that scare you into staying married for the children’s sake. That’s simply a recipe for misery (not only for you but for your children too).

The beauty of conscious uncoupling is that it’s an attitude. And it’s an attitude you can have whether your spouse does or not.

Conscious uncoupling is about having compassion and recognizing that your divorce allows your spouse to teach you something about yourself.

By carefully contemplating your relationship and your reactions to your spouse’s behavior, you can evolve spiritually and emotionally. Your spouse may not be your favorite teacher, but they can teach you lessons no one else can.

Regardless of whether your spouse chooses to adopt an attitude of conscious uncoupling, you can.

When you make the decision to use your transition from married to single to grow and become a better version of yourself, your children will notice. They’ll come to understand that they can also choose how they react to the obstacles life presents them with.

How to develop the right attitude for conscious uncoupling

So, how do you develop this attitude when you’re uncertain of how your spouse will behave and simultaneously terrified of what the future may hold for you as a single woman?

You get support. You surround yourself with people who understand how you want (and need) change and fully support your intentions to take the high road. These people could be friends and family, a legal professional, a therapist, a divorce coach, or even a single mom from your kids’ school who has a great coparenting relationship with her Ex.

Adopting this attitude also means that you CHOOSE not to divorce the way a friend did or how your lawyer claims things must be. Consciously divorcing is all about empowerment and choice. You are firmly in the driver’s seat, and you get to decide what’s best for you in the long run. Backseat drivers are not welcome on this journey—no matter who they are.

The easiest way to adopt this attitude is by being smart and compassionate. When you bear in mind that your decisions will impact everyone, it gives you the nudge you need to handle your divorce—dealing with the legalities, healing after the end of your marriage, and moving on with your life—in the healthiest way possible.

Being smart and compassionate is NOT about staying married. It IS about choosing the path forward that’s best for everybody.

Who knows? The example you set and your steadfast determination to remain conscious and grow throughout your divorce could inspire your spouse to do the same. And wouldn’t that be the best outcome possible?

So, yes, conscious uncoupling is still a thing (not just a celebrity trend). It’s an attitude that everyone who is brave enough to persistently pursue growth and compassion can choose to adopt at any point in their divorce journey.

Whether you are considering divorce or already navigating the 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. Schedule your free session to learn about you and your possible next steps to a better day of living with courage, compassion and integrity.

Grown up woman talks to divorced mom

What My Grown-Up Self Would Tell My Divorced Mom

Parents always wonder about the children when they get divorced. Will they be okay? Will they understand? What will they remember? My parents divorced when I was eight years old. My father told me he would have stayed, if my mother would have tried. My mother told me all she ever did was try. And for many years, finding out “the truth” mattered to me. I wanted someone to blame. Sometimes that person was my father. Sometimes that person was my mother. Other times it wasn’t a person at all but the very idea of love itself.

For half my childhood, my single, divorced mom raised me and my three siblings. We survived on her bookkeeper salary and the child support check my father sent (mostly) every month. As a teenager, it was easy to believe in the way most teenagers do that I knew best. That if I were my mother I would do it all differently. Now, only a couple years older than my mother was when she married my father, I’m not so sure. Her shoes fit more comfortably. So, what do I wish my divorced mom would have known? From the practical to the personal, here I go.

It’s better to lean into your pain together than hide it away

My mother’s optimism has always impressed me, but her optimism is something that I now, as an adult, see in myself as something else: a mask. In other words, my mother was good at faking it. When I was growing up, we both faked it for the same reasons. I was a good student who read books, stayed out of trouble, and faded into the background. I said “fine” when she asked how I was doing, instead of saying how sad or lost I felt. I developed a sort of apathy and tried to unburden my mother. To take one more thing—raising me—off her plate, so, in many ways, my siblings and I raised each other. In doing so, I’m afraid we may have made my mother feel like we didn’t need her, which could not have been further from the truth.

I’m afraid we may have made my mother feel like we didn’t need her, which could not have been further from the truth.

Optimism is a mask that’s hard to keep on forever. Hiding becomes a habit that’s hard to break, further isolating you from your loved ones, and turning to substances like alcohol to cope is all too easy. That’s why it’s so important to find a support group outside of your usual social circles—women who understand your situation because they are going through it too or have already been there. Wanting to “be strong” for your children is understandable, but needing help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, knowing when to ask for help is a great lesson for your children to learn.

As a divorced mom, your relationship with money will change, and that’s okay

Because my mother never remarried and had no college degree, finances were often a struggle. Little luxuries, like attending ballet classes, disappeared. We stopped bringing lunch to school and instead began typing our ID numbers into keypads in the cafeteria while women wearing hair nets discreetly pointed out what food the government would pay for and what food they would not. Then it got worse—my mother explained how we were losing the house. The car went missing from the driveway one night, and again, my mother explained, only this time we learned what a repo man was.

My mother was drowning. If I mentioned anything to my father, he’d mumble something about child support and the conversation would quickly shift to a diatribe of all the ways my mother was failing us.

My mother was not failing us. She was not alone, and neither are you. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 40 percent of households led by single moms are living below the poverty line. Even today, when articles rethinking the value of a college degree seem prevalent, the impact having a bachelor’s degree makes on your earning potential can’t be ignored. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median biweekly paycheck of someone with a bachelor’s degree was $928 more than a person with a high school diploma.

But if you’re drowning in debt and stretched thin, like my mother was, then attending college likely seems out of reach. Single mothers might be surprised to find out there are often more resources available to them than they think. If you’re a divorced mom, you can also take advantage of  online finance classes geared toward women where you can learn about budgeting, paying off debt, and saving.

There’s a line between honesty and therapy

I grew up in a house full of women (and one little brother, poor him) who loved to talk. We prided ourselves on our ability to be honest with each other. Even so, as a child, if I overheard my mother or anyone else speak poorly of my father, I took it upon myself to personally defend his honor. I didn’t condone his actions, I said, but he was my father and I loved him and that was that as far as I was concerned.

After the divorce, I saw my father often. He took us to see movies and let me wander libraries and bookstores while he distracted my little brother. He listened to me, and I could tell he thought I was smart. That kind of thing mattered to me. But I wasn’t going to stay little forever. Sometimes I’d come home to my mother and vent, and it was then the floodgates would open. We became co-victims of my father’s transgressions.

The phrase “talk it out” exists for a reason.

The phrase “talk it out” exists for a reason. Many of us feel better after a good talk with someone who just gets it. But after divorce, relationships with friends and family can feel strained. Because children usually deeply understand the events that led to a divorce, even if they can’t articulate everything they heard and saw, it’s easy for parents to overshare.

A common complaint I’ve heard from other children of divorce is how their parents treated them (and often still treat them) as messengers or, even, as therapists. But your children’s father will always be a part of their lives, even if he ceases being part of yours. Instead of creating a wedge between your children and their father, use divorce as a lesson in setting personal boundaries, forgiving others, and loving someone despite their imperfections. If you find yourself venting to your children, do your best to bite your tongue and speak to a friend or professional instead. Let your children form their own opinions about who their father is or isn’t.

Your children need a parent, not a friend

As I got older, I became my mother’s confidant. The person she could talk to without judgment. Children who find themselves in this position often begin to see their parents as their equal. This dynamic grows worse if you struggle to discipline or provide structure for your children. Do they have chores? Do they have a curfew? Do you ask about their day at school, or review homework assignments together? And when mistakes are made and tantrums are thrown, how do you teach your children?

After divorce, the instinct to “do it all yourself” can be so tempting. You come home tired after a long work day. The thought of barking orders at your children or ticking domestic tasks off your to-do list seems just about impossible. So you let things slide.

When your kids start to think of you as the parent “who lets things slide,” that’s when you have a problem. You become the cool adult friend they just happen to live with instead of their parent.

But when your kids start to think of you as the parent “who lets things slide,” that’s when you have a problem. You become the cool adult friend they just happen to live with instead of their parent.

The importance of creating family moments

I have so many happy memories, even after the divorce, but I also remember how, as we grew older, our daily lives grew more fragmented. My mother was (and still is) fun. She liked to garden and do DIY projects, anything from rehabbing furniture to making lotions and lip balms from scratch. She cooked constantly and never from a recipe. I loved helping her. I’d ask her how much seasoning to put in a dish and the reply was always the same: “Trust your gut.” These things brought us together. Later, we often retreated to our own bedrooms after school, where I’d read a book or my brother would play video games. I found myself feeling nostalgic for a past I knew I couldn’t get back to.

It’s important to continue traditions and begin new ones—to have family dinners, to host game or movie nights. To remind your children that the end of a marriage isn’t the end of their world.

As a divorced mom, it’s important to continue traditions and begin new ones—to have family dinners, to host game or movie nights. To remind your children that the end of a marriage isn’t the end of their world.

You can’t control everything that happens after divorce. What your children will remember more than anything is that you were there for them and that you did your best for them. Show your children that you can fail and keep going. How what’s worse than making a mistake is not learning your lesson. I remember how much my mother tried more than I remember her failures. More than anything, this is what I’d tell her—it’s what I do tell her.

This article was authored for SAS for Women by Melanie Figueroa, a freelance 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.

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

Woman celebrating after surviving a nasty divorce.

How to Survive a Nasty Divorce (And Take Care of You, Too! )

Every divorce is heartbreaking because it abruptly ends the dream of living happily ever after together. But a nasty divorce is doubly painful because of the ongoing onslaught of your Ex’s aggressive behavior.

Aggressive behavior during (and after) a bad divorce can take many forms.

Purposeful cruelty

People who resort to purposeful cruelty do things that range from petty to dangerous. At the petty end of the scale, your Ex might spread rumors about you or flaunt his* new relationship.

However, some Exes seem to lose their common sense and do hurtful things simply out of spite. They can get so wrapped up in hurting you that they’ll destroy property, kill beloved pets, or even deliberately attempt to cause you (or your children) physical and/or emotional harm.

If your Ex is behaving in dangerously cruel ways, be sure to get the help you need to protect yourself and your children. Do you need to file a restraining order? Talk to your divorce attorney to hear more.

Making false accusations

Other tactics Exes use in a nasty divorce include calling the police to falsely report you as being abusive, filing restraining orders against you for actions you’ve never taken, and accusing you of stealing marital property.

On the other hand, his accusations can be less legal in nature. He may denounce you for wanting to make his life miserable, for only being concerned about money, or some other perception he has that is not based in fact.

Unpredictable rage

Divorce and anger often go together. However, when you’re dealing with a nasty divorce, it’s a bit different. Your Ex will regularly explode for no apparent reason and be unable to speak to you in a civil tone unless he is compelled to.

His rage can strike fear in you and/or your children. And in the worst instances, his behavior can be emotionally abusive. If this is the case for you, get the protection and support you need to heal.

Each of these behaviors is an attempt to control you. A nasty divorce is all about control.

Your Ex may even use the divorce process to attempt to dominate you. He may refuse to communicate with you to drag out your divorce. He may petition for primary custody when all he really wants is joint custody or simply visitation, and he may refuse to pay support until required to do so by the court or until you do something he wants.

The list of cruel tactics someone who is out for revenge in divorce will take is virtually endless. Feeling hurt by any kind of cruelty is normal.

However, what makes a nasty divorce especially painful is that the person you thought would always have your back has turned on you. He is using everything he knows about you as a weapon in his hate-filled arsenal. He knows your vulnerabilities and is ruthlessly exploiting every single one of them.

It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that the person you married is behaving this way. And addressing this thought is exactly where learning how to survive a nasty divorce begins.

The fact is the person you married is not the person you are divorcing. The person you married does not exist anywhere except in your memories.

The person you are divorcing is someone else—someone who is filled with thoughts of revenge and making you pay for the end of his marriage even if he is the one who wanted the divorce.

Once you begin acknowledging that the person you’re divorcing is a virtual stranger, you’ll find it easier to distance yourself from the nastiness of your divorce by doing the following:

1. Accept that your Ex’s behavior will be unacceptable at times

He will push your buttons because it’s how he can control you. He will be cruel and vengeful. And the longer you remain a victim of your emotions, the longer you will be vulnerable to his attacks.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t feel hurt by your Ex’s actions. It simply means that you begin expecting that he will behave in abhorrent ways. That way when he does something terrible you aren’t completely derailed for a lengthy period of time.

2. Don’t let his behavior change you

It can be incredibly tempting to treat your Ex the same way he is treating you. But don’t. If you do, then you’ll only escalate the situation, and your Ex will have achieved his goal of hurting and controlling you.

Instead, keep your cool. Remember to continue to behave in ways that you’ll be proud of years from now.

3. Get a support team

Surround yourself with people who are on your side, can help you navigate the unfamiliar landscape of divorce, AND can help you keep your cool. Choose to confide in and count on friends, family, a legal professional, a therapist, and/or a divorce coach who can help you achieve your goals.

4. Keep your focus on your kids (if you have them)

Concentrating on helping your kids get through this major transition in their lives is another great way for you to navigate your nasty divorce.

You’ll want to keep in mind that no matter how heinous your Ex’s behavior is, your children still love both of you. And it’s up to you to respect your children’s love.

You’ll also want to avoid putting your children in the middle of the mess which means they aren’t your spy or messenger.

5. Keep communicating with your Ex

The only way to get through your divorce is to do what needs doing which includes interacting with your Ex.

Although it may be tempting, stonewalling or ignoring your Ex will work against you. Refusing to communicate about any of the details required to move things forward will only inflame him more.

6. Shore up your Achilles’ heel

Your Ex knows your weaknesses and is looking to exploit them. If you’re concerned about finances, he can control you with financial threats. If you’re concerned about spending time with your children, he can control you with threats of taking the children away from you.

Whatever your Achilles’ heel is, ask your support team for help to put together a plan to make you less vulnerable.

Even after you’ve accepted that the person you’re divorcing is not the one you married, each of these ideas can still be challenging to act on. You’ll do better some days than others. This is your normal and human process as you continue to heal in your divorce recovery.

So, make it a point to practice self-compassion. Don’t expect yourself to do everything perfectly—just do enough.

Dealing with your Ex’s aggressive behavior will be difficult no matter what you do. However, by disengaging from your Ex and taking care of yourself you will survive your nasty divorce.

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

*Disclaimer: We fully understand and respect same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we have indicated your Ex as a male.