Posts

Will She Ask for a Divorce

Do Women Really Ask for a Divorce More Than Men?

On your typical Monday, we ladies huddle around the coffee maker talking about a well-known topic — complaints about our husbands. Some days we complain more than others. But are we serious? Are we really unhappy in our marriages? Would we ever consider the D word and ask for a divorce?

It turns out that women are more interested in divorce than men are. Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, examined data from Stanford’s 2009-2015 How Couples Meet and Stay Together project, a national study of relationships and breakups. Rosenfeld looked at 2,262 adults, ages 19 to 94, who had opposite sex partners in 2009. By 2015, 371 of these people had split up or gotten divorced.

According to the data results, it turns out that men have a lot to worry about if they are a topic of a coffee complaint conversation. Rosenfeld discovered that wives initiated 69 percent of splits, compared to 31 percent of husbands.

Why do women want it more?

I find the results of the project fascinating. Women are less likely to stick around in a relationship that is not satisfying to them. There had to be a bigger story here. Why do women ask for a divorce so frequently and are we inadvertently responsible for the historically high number of broken families?

Every relationship has its owns reasons for breakdown and eventually breaking up. However, a societal shift is putting much more pressure on marriages than ever before. Today’s woman spends more time earning a paycheck outside the home. After a hard day on the job, she comes home to a second shift. On a typical day, 50 percent of women spend time after their full-time job doing chores around the house. Just 20 percent of husbands will do the same.

According to the book, The Changing Rhythms of American Family Life, mothers spend 41 hours caregiving versus 22 hours per week for fathers. Women also cook and clean 10 hours more a week than husband’s do.

If we only focus on working women, the situation is just as depressing. Mothers who work full-time will put in a week and a half’s worth more time on household tasks than their male partners each year. No wonder women feel tired all of the time. I thought it was just because I was getting old!

Real life marriage does not equal gender equality

The modern marriage does not seem so modern after all. The age old uneven power dynamic still persists, leading to lowers levels of marriage satisfaction for women. Rosenfeld maintains that “Women report lower levels (of marriage satisfaction) because they experience marriage as constraining, oppressive, uncomfortable and controlling.” Marriage has not caught up with the gender equality that women expect.

One of the survey participants explained why she asked for a divorce, “I used to be a very happy, optimistic person, and it was like he was starving my soul. I did not like the way that he was treating me.”

Obviously, we cannot know the reason for all of the divorces, however, it is clear that marriages need to adapt and move to a more equal partnership or we will continue to see much higher numbers of divorces initiated by women.

Early in her life, Stacy Francis witnessed how devastating life could be for women who were not empowered through financial education. Her grandmother stayed in an abusive marriage because she did not have the skills to effectively deal with money. That experience changed Stacy’s life and drove her into the finance field.

Stacy is president and CEO of Francis Financial, a fee-only boutique wealth management, financial planning, and divorce financial planning firm, and the founder of Savvy Ladies, a non-profit that has helped over 12,000 women across the spectrum of ages, life experience, and income levels identify their goals, make proactive choices about their finances, and lead richer, more rewarding lives.

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.
Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.

Although SAS periodically features links to and writing by other professionals on the SAS website, SAS for Women® is not responsible for the accuracy or content of that information. As for what is best for you and your future, SAS always recommends you speak to a professional to discuss the particulars of your situation.

divorce grief

Divorce, Grief and 3 Harmful Myths

Time heals all wounds. Umm, that’s nonsense. So is “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,”“There are lots of fish in the sea,” and all the other inane things people say to you when you are suffering through a divorce, looking for solace and grieving.

People mean well, I think. They just don’t know what to say so they attempt to say something that in a nutshell means, “Get over it because you are making ME feel awkward. So get happy, ok?”

Well, their best wishes are nice, but it’s not going to happen. You know why? It’s not about them. Going through divorce is one of the most traumatic things you will ever go through (I realize I’m preaching and singing to the choir here) and the pain associated with the end of your relationship cannot be summed up in a catchy phrase or old cliché. It’s not something you “get over” (actually stop using that language, you don’t “get over it” at all.) It’s a healing and growing process, with steps to it, and it takes time.

When your marriage died, whether it was a sudden explosion or it slowly withered on the vine – there went all the hopes and dreams you had for your future, right? You probably got married thinking that you’d retire together and enter your golden years, traveling the world funded by your cushy retirement and spoiling your grandkids. But instead, here you are, empty fisted and wondering what the hell happened. As if that’s not bad enough, the loss of those idyllic dreams isn’t even the most painful part. No, what you miss the most are the little, seemingly ordinary things, the things you took for granted, your daily life, your:

  • Best friend, your soul mate, your companion, your bedmate
  • Your laughs, joy and connection to your in-laws, his family and “his” friends
  • Family rituals, routines, and doing your best to parent together
  • Home, the one you thoughtfully and lovingly decorated for everyone
  • Resolute knowledge that before now, your kid didn’t come from a broken home (that’s such an awful expression, isn’t it?)
  • Couple friends (it’s gotten too awkward hasn’t it?)
  • Financial security of knowing you had a partner, come good times or bad (now what?)
  • Confidence in yourself, that you are lovable ( … spoiler alert, you are)

 


“What we grieve for is not the loss of a grand vision, but rather the loss of common things, events, and gestures. Ordinariness is the most precious thing we struggle for.” – Irena Kelpfisz


 

Okay, there it is. We all know that you are grieving all things lost here, big and small. The question is, what do you do about it? Well, first of all, recognize you ARE going to DO something about it.

Let’s dispel the first divorce grief myth, “Time heals all wounds”

Think of it this way. If you got a flat tire and had to pull over on the interstate, would you simply sit by the side of the road and wait for the air to somehow re-enter the tires, so you can resume your merry way? No, you have to do something, you have to take action. You’ll call a friend, dig that AAA card out of the glove box, you’ll google garages in Flagstaff, Arizona, whatever…the point is, you’ll do something. You do not sit idly by.

Similarly when you are grieving, you must act. You must speak to someone (a grief counselor, a coach, a therapist, a spiritual leader, a support group) who can help you process all of the feelings you are experiencing and make sense of everything. There are things you can do to start moving toward a lighter, happier place, but you can’t do it without a plan and we don’t recommend you do it alone.

Which brings us to the second myth, “Grieve alone”

Picture this, a husband has died and the widow is in the corner of the room, on the couch, crying. You start to go to her but someone passing between the two of you says, “No, give her some space,” so instinctually you turn and walk away. You know what? Wrong. Grievers do not need nor want to isolate. Grieving is not something to be done alone. We need to talk, to process, to have a shoulder to cry on and to be with others. Western culture has mistakenly adopted the idea that grief is a private affair. This is a dangerous (and tragic) idea … in our grief, we need to be with others.

Figure out with whom you can share your grief, your thoughts, your anguish. Seek out someone who will be a good listener. Speaking of finding someone, we don’t mean a new boyfriend ….

This brings us to our third myth, “Replace the loss”

Most of us have lost a pet at one point or another. It was likely a heartbreaking moment… a puppy, a goldfish, a hamster, a loved critter, suddenly gone. Perhaps your parents said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get you another one.” They think it’s the right thing to do, to help you get over the loss of one by replacing it with another. But it doesn’t help! Even as a kid, you knew it didn’t feel right. Getting another puppy would NOT be the same as having “Bailey,” the one you loved.

When we are grieving a marriage, sometimes it seems like the thing to do is to look for the next (presumably better) one. What you couldn’t cultivate in this marriage, surely you can in the next. This is a bad idea. Do not leave this marriage with the idea that you’ll find a better one.

Instead, walk away and figure out how you can grow from this as a woman, as a human being. Look back at who you were in that marriage, and ask yourself, how do I want to live differently this time around?

Trust us, the grass is not greener. Don’t go there.

A final word of advice: Don’t act like you are ok, if you are not

Unfortunately we are taught from a young age that during times of grief, we need to be stoic and strong for others around us; that it’s not okay to fall apart. Don’t buy into that. Your heart needs to be acknowledged. It’s hurting. Grief is normal, natural, and yes, incredibly painful — but again it is NORMAL and NATURAL — and TO BE EXPECTED. Your heart is broken for real reasons.

When you do not feel ok, find someone safe to say that to … someone who will listen with an open mind and heart and give you a big, long bear hug. Ask for help in moments when you just aren’t ok.

The grief you feel during a divorce is real, deep, complicated (not to mention, genuinely painful) but it’s also normal. Try not to fall into the old traps – isolating yourself, trying to wait it out, ignoring it, or moving on too quickly — but instead, take action to understand it. It’s here for a reason. Reach out to someone trained who can help you understand it, heal, move on, and eventually, learn to thrive again.

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.” ~ Liza Caldwell, SAS Cofounder.
.
Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.
6 Ways to Pay for a Divorce

7 Ways to Pay for a Divorce

Would you like to speak to a lawyer but feel you can’t because you don’t know how you’d pay for a divorce?

Does your husband tell you the money in your joint account is “his, because he earned it?”

Do you wonder how you can afford to get a divorce if you aren’t working, because you stayed home to raise the kids?

We spoke with divorce lawyer Daniel Stock about something our clients often face — what it means to be a woman in a relationship who doesn’t feel she has access to money to meet with an attorney, let alone pay for a divorce. The perception that we don’t have money to spend on a consultation can paralyze us from doing anything. We stay stuck, because we see no way out. We see no way out because we are not informed. We asked Daniel to tell us what advice he gives to women who feel they have no options.

How to pay for a divorce

One of the most daunting questions facing women about to go through a divorce is, “How am I going to pay for this?” The answer is closer at hand than you might think. Here are six different ways that you find the money:

1. Use joint money

You may use money in a joint bank account to hire your lawyer. So long as your name is on the account, with certain exceptions, it doesn’t matter if your husband deposited most or all of the money.

2. Use a credit card

Many attorneys accept credit cards. If it is a joint credit card, you and your husband will both be responsible for the amount charged, and at the end of your divorce, a judge may “allocate” the amount of lawyer fees each of you has to pay. Since most credit cards allow you to make monthly payments, you may be able to charge enough to pay your lawyer.*

3. Take out a loan

There are many loan options available ranging from loans against a retirement account to personal loans. If you aren’t sure which is best for you, speak with your financial advisor or SAS for Women.

4. Withdraw money from a savings or retirement account

Many people are reluctant to invade their “nest egg,” with good reason. But remember, if you cannot hire a divorce lawyer to represent you, you stand to lose marital assets that could be a multiple of the amount you spend on his or her fee. Divorce is a time for triage, not penny pinching.

5. Borrow money from friends or relatives

Many divorces are financed by parents who don’t want to see their children suffer in a bad marriage, or worse, a bad divorce. Even if you don’t have the best relationship with your parents, ask them for a reasonable amount of money to pay your attorney – or for the upfront consultation fee. You may also have a close friend who is willing to help you out financially.

6. Know the law on “counsel fees”

In New York, if you are a wife in a divorce who earns less than your husband, the law entitles you to have your husband pay some or all of your lawyer’s fees, otherwise known as “counsel fees.” The tricky part is that the law is not automatic, and, unless your husband voluntarily agrees to pay for your lawyer, (not unheard of but infrequent) you will need a lawyer to file a court document called a “motion” in order to enforce this right. Catch-22! The good news is that the amount of money you need to pay your lawyer up front (known as a retainer) to get him or her started on your case, is not unreasonably high in many cases. You will need to come up with this initial amount to pay your attorney, using one or more of the methods above, until he or she has had time to take legal action that may get your legal fees paid by your spouse.

7. Start saving now

Even if you do not think divorce is happening soon, but you think it may be in your future, start saving now. Often, the seemingly insurmountable task of hiring a divorce lawyer and paying for legal fees will keep you in a place of pain, fear, and dysfunction for far too long. Asking the right questions and learning your rights and what options are available to you are crucial in order to start taking steps toward independence and stability.

Daniel H. Stock, PLLC, with offices located in New York City and Westchester, brings more than 25 years of legal experience to all issues associated with uncontested, collaborative, contested or high net worth divorce. He seeks to reach amicable agreements on matters such as child custody and visitation, child support and alimony, and property division. He favors the kind of outcome that benefits you and your children as you transition to a post-divorce future. However, when discussions are not productive, consensus is not possible and litigation is necessary, he is fully prepared to aggressively protect your rights in court.

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.
Take a step to hear what’s possible for you and schedule your free consultation now.

*SAS note: Be aware of interest charged to your credit card if the monthly credit card bill is not paid in full.

Your Emotional Quandary: A Separation or a Divorce?

Let’s talk about what brings you to this dilemma, ladies. Are you like I was, wanting to take baby steps to resolve your marriage problems? Are you thinking that “separating” will lessen the impact of your needing to try things differently? Does the word “divorce” sound too frightening? Don’t bother answering that last one. I know the answer.

“Separation” sounds kinder

I was there. I thought if I pursued “separation” (I was desperate to avoid “divorce”), that the implied space apart would give my husband and me time to reflect, to cool down, to consider how we might live without conflict. The first step in my mind, and what I so critically craved, was to have space and peace, and for sure the “D” word sounded too final. It meant crossing a line of “No Return.” No, no, no, if only we could have peace and time apart, we might see things differently. The toxicity would blow over, and behind it, there might be a space preserved for us — a hope, that we could reconcile.

Finding out what your rights are is not a one-way road to divorce

It’s natural that you don’t want to rush into finalities, but let me share with you a few things from the other side of the bridge. Finding out what your rights are and attaining information in terms of a separation, divorce, or a post-nuptial agreement, does not mean a one-way road to DIVORCE. As a fully living, grown and thinking woman, understand this, you are entitled to the pursuit of happiness. You are allowed to find out what is possible and what different paths might mean for you and your family. Learning does not equal doing.

In the past, in order to divorce, one person in the marriage had to prove the other was guilty of wrongdoing. At the time, legal separation was a means to establish these grounds for divorce. Now, however, all 50 states honor “no fault” divorce, meaning a couple may divorce for any reason and this knee-jerk reaction that you must separate first may be passé.

Separation may be an un-needed expense

For some women, particularly of a certain age, a legal separation may be the answer for financial reasons. And sometimes, it’s in the interest of everybody, especially the children, for the parents to not be under the same roof — as soon as possible — because it is a war zone. However, no one should move out of the house without a written agreement in place to protect each of your interests and concerns. In fact, if you simply move out without this agreement, you may be putting yourself at risk, and be accused of abandonment.

If you decide to legally separate, you will need an attorney to help you draft this legal document that delineates how the finances will be separated and how the children will be cared for during the separation. It is important to consider that going through all the steps of a legal separation is time consuming and costly. So if you think you will eventually pursue a divorce anyway, the hassle of a legal separation may simply not be worth it. (For insights to the legal processes and differences between a separation and divorce, read our interview with a well-respected NYC attorney. Or for more on what to ask a divorce attorney, visit our list of suggested questions.)

Divorce itself is not a fast process

If you are like I was, you are really using separation as an emotional crutch, a means to slowing things down before you have to decide whether or not to divorce. But realize this, divorce itself is not a fast process. You will have time to reflect whether or not this is really the right path for you. As women, we like time. We like “outs,” because we want to believe there is still hope for alternatives. Understand that by embarking on the divorce process, if at any time you want to abandon ship and reconcile, it is possible (of course, he has to be willing. But Richard Burton was, even after the divorces were final!). The point is to recognize that you have arrived in a place in your relationship where you have accepted on some level that something must change. The Same Old is not working. You must consider and eventually construct something new, and to know what that new thing is requires an education.

So do not get hung up on the words, separation or divorce. Talk to a lawyer about your circumstances. Like divorce, a legal separation varies from state to state, so obviously it’s important to get the advice of a divorce attorney licensed in your state to determine if a legal separation agreement or a divorce is more viable for you. Or, talk to a divorce coach like us. We can help you with the emotional space you may find yourself in right now, give you an overview of the various paths, and can even connect you with the right attorneys, mediators, and financial advisors you may need to understand the nuances to your specific story. You deserve to know what is possible for you and your family so you can make the right decision when the time comes. Remember, learning does not equal pulling the trigger.

 

Since 2012, SAS for Women is 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.