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Communicating through divorce can be challenging.

Challenges of Communicating Through Divorce When You Have Kids

Problems with communication are often cited as a leading cause of divorce. Yet as a parent, getting divorced doesn’t typically mean that all conversations with your former spouse will cease. While your coparent might be far from your favorite person, finding a way to communicate through your divorce and beyond is non-negotiable when you have kids.

The methods you use to communicate can have an enormous impact on how successful your coparenting interactions are. If face-to-face interactions or phone calls continually prove to be non-starters, perhaps you’ll turn to web- and mobile-based resources like email or texting. The positives of text and email are obvious.

But if you’re struggling with conflict, text and email won’t make a difference if you’re seriously looking to improve your communication.

Some parents realize that text and email aren’t going to cut it so they ask others to get involved as messengers. But when parents choose an inappropriate third-party to serve as their messenger, this strategy can lead to much bigger issues.

For the messenger, the emotional burden of having to carry a message—especially if it’s not a particularly pleasant one—can be huge. This can be true if someone such as a child’s nanny, another family member, or a close friend is being held responsible for sending messages. And asking children to send the messages can create an even more dire situation for your family by putting them in the middle of potential conflict.

As hard as it can be to make communication work in coparenting, finding a healthy way to manage it for the sake of your kids makes it well worth the effort.

Set healthy boundaries as you communicate through divorce (and beyond)

So, what’s a positive first step to take towards lessening the challenges of communicating through divorce?

Instead of trying to communicate the same ways you once did, building a framework of healthy coparenting boundaries can significantly improve your efforts.

Commit to keeping your kids from being middlemen

Though it almost goes without saying, it’s absolutely crucial to protect your children. They should never be made to feel like they are carrying a burden because of your divorce. Even something as simple as asking one of your kids to relay a brief message to your coparent can be a potent source of emotional strain and anxiety. In doing so, your child must bear the responsibility of receiving the first-hand response to that message which, depending on the reaction, can be overwhelming.

As coparents, commit to keeping your kids out of the middle of your conflict and communications. Additionally, prevent others from acting as your messenger, including your child’s nanny. If you need a third-party to assist in your communication, enlist help from your attorneys or a neutral third-party professional such as a mediator or parenting coordinator.


If you are seeking an education on best practices for coparenting as you support your children through one of the toughest moments in your lives, you will want to know about Gaia’s Group, SAS for Women’s virtual group coaching class for coparenting mothers. We all need a thoughtful, committed plan for helping our children weather and move beyond separation and divorce. Doing it the healthiest way is a choice. 


Stick to your parenting agreement

Your parenting agreement should act as a guide for handling different aspects of raising your children as coparents. It will encompass everything from parenting time schedules and shared expenses to how big decisions will be made for your kids.

Sticking to your agreement can act as evidence that backs up different parenting decisions you make. This can curb conflict because parents are more likely to remain on the same page.

On top of details about your children’s daily care, your parenting agreement may lay out specifications for your communication plan. It can be critical to include specific guidelines, especially if conflict has been a recurring issue.

Give parallel parenting a try

If conflict becomes a chronic issue, switching to parallel parenting can be a great option.

In a parallel parenting arrangement, parents can disengage from one another while still playing an active role in raising their children. Backing off from one another—and from the constant disagreements that may have existed when engaged in more traditional coparenting—encourages a new level of calm in each household.

Disengagement in parallel parenting doesn’t mean that parents won’t be communicating at all. Instead, they will significantly limit their interactions to keep them business-like and entirely focused on their children. While some find email or text messages are equal to the task, they still present all the same opportunities for miscommunication that can lead to conflict.

Try a coparenting app

Coparenting apps are often recommended by family law practitioners to help resolve communication issues between parents. At their best, coparenting apps have built-in boundaries that promote efficient and straightforward conversations about shared parenting matters. Information is exchanged on the key aspects of shared parenting.

Apps designed to promote transparent and timely communication in a neutral environment can seriously support your efforts to improve your coparenting communication. Some of these apps include tools like shared parenting time calendars, expense and payments registers, family vital information banks, file storage space, private and shared journals, highly-documented messaging, and more.

Not all coparenting apps are created equal, however. While documented messaging is a crucial feature to have in any coparenting app, this alone won’t do much to help remove you and your coparent from the cycle of conflict in written exchanges. The right coparenting app should help to reduce conflict by providing you with specialized tools designed for every shared parenting situation you may encounter.

One such app, OurFamilyWizard, offers a full suite of tools that help you to focus your communication on the points that matter the most. For instance, instead of sending a message regarding a one-time change to the parenting schedule, parents will create this request directly on their calendar. Using the Trade/Swap function, you only enter the essential details regarding the change including the date and time, and a brief reason. If your co-parent approves the request, the calendar will automatically update to reflect the agreement. This cuts the need for updating the calendar later on, and a complete history of these requests is always maintained, leaving less confusion as to what was agreed upon.

It also cuts down on direct communication with your Ex, or negotiating with him*.

When a conversation must be had, the app’s messaging features provide a space for secure discussions while also offering analytical feedback. Integrated into the message board, ToneMeter™ is a function that will review the content of messages as they are written and flag any emotionally-charged phrases. This lets parents review the analysis and update their tone before sending the message. This function helps to promote mindful communication when messaging.

Many coparenting apps are subscription-based services, yet apps like OurFamilyWizard offer fee waiver programs to help make their tools available even to parents who cannot afford a subscription.

Keep learning 

The experience of your divorce, and what led up to it, is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself, to demonstrate to your children that you can be even better now, as their mom. You can promote honest communication, establish boundaries and fair “rules,” and take responsibility for your world.  Staying open to learning how others successfully coparent, what best practices are, or what new tools have been developed to support divorced parents lessens your burden and, more importantly, shows your children that you are doing your best to support everyone’s move into this next chapter healthily. For a lot of people, becoming a divorced parent and wanting to do right by their kids is a big motivator to getting educated on how to do it successfully and with heart.

Communicating through divorce when you have kids can be a significant challenge, even on a good day. Don’t expect that you’ll fall right into the best communication strategy immediately. The process of finding what works for your situation may take a little time. It’s imperative to keep your kids protected and out of the middle of conflict as you make this transition. Work to build healthy communication boundaries in your coparenting. Your boundaries will help to create a clear framework of how your interactions will take place, leaving less room for conflict and confusion.

Sara Klemp is a content manager and online marketing specialist for OurFamilyWizard. Since 2001, the OurFamilyWizard website and mobile applications have helped countless co-parents to improve communication and reduce conflict. Learn more at OurFamilyWizard.com

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

Woman staying safe w online dating

Online Dating: 5 Must Do’s for Staying Safe After Divorce

Online dating makes us feel like we’re being proactive. If you’re “on the market,” you don’t have to wait for a friend to introduce you to so-and-so’s best friend’s brother or throw back one-too-many cocktails as you wait for someone to catch your eye at another bar or party. No, now you can swipe left and right as you wait in line at the grocery store or sit in front of the TV. But there are just so many dating apps out there—Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Match.com, eharmony, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish. So many, in fact, that you shouldn’t be surprised if you see some of the same faces on multiple platforms!

The world of online dating is so popular that it’s almost impossible to keep away from, but it’s a world that has a dark side. Using a dating app to “get out there” can feel like learning a whole new language to a newly divorced woman, especially one who married long before the internet was up and running (like me). I’ve had many dates and some relationships through dating apps, and I’ve found most of the men* to be very kind and polite. But that’s not always the case.

I was glad to not have shared my full name with a couple of the men I’ve met online—if I had, I might not have heard the last from them after the date flopped. Some men insisted on knowing personal details early on. Harmless? Maybe. But these men are strangers, and you should always put your safety first.

Although this is a blog for divorced women, men can also benefit from using the online dating safety tips below. So don’t be shy about sharing these suggestions with some of the men in your life. A recent story in Arizona illustrates the importance of staying safe when online dating.

If you are a divorced woman, there are several thing things to keep in mind when gearing up to date online. But for this post, I’m going to focus on keeping you safe when using dating apps and interacting with strangers. These recommendations are in addition to basic safety practices like…

  • Always meeting in a public place
  • Letting a friend know when and where your date is
  • Not revealing personal information, like your full name, too early as this can easily be linked to your home and work addresses

I want you to explore and have fun—you’ve been through a lot, and your divorce recovery has been hard-won. But putting you and your safety first is nonnegotiable, even if it means a bit more work and assertiveness on your part!

So here are 5 Must Do’s for staying safe when online dating.

1. Set up an email account just for people you’re interacting with on dating apps

Don’t set up the account with your full name. For example, create a new Gmail account, and instead of using the name “Jennifer Parker,” use an email address that no one would recognize, like [email protected]

Some dating apps require you to link your account to Facebook. Pay attention to what information is being uploaded to the dating app. You may need to set up another Facebook account with less information (not a “phony” account full of fake information—just less) than your primary one.

2. Do not give out your “real” cell phone number

Instead, set up a Google Voice account (you can do this while you’re setting up your new Gmail account). Many times, a cellphone number can reveal the name of the person who owns the account. If you don’t believe me, type a friend’s cell phone number or your own into Google.

A guy once asked me way too many questions about my cell phone number. Why was it a different area code? (Google Voice can run out of numbers in certain area codes, but you can choose one from anywhere in the country.) Was it a real cell phone number? Why couldn’t I give him my iPhone number? Could I “please, please, please” switch to my real cell phone number so we could FaceTime? This was all prior to even meeting for a date! I politely declined, canceled our date, and blocked him. (Blocking someone on Google Voice is even better than on the iPhone as even voicemails will not come through. They simply get a message that the number was disconnected. Done!)

3. Don’t give out or use your full name on the app

This is especially true if you have an unusual name. For example, if your name is Marietta and you live in Glen Cove, NY, running a search for those two facts alone will likely reveal your full name and address. So, instead, perhaps use Mari and put down a nearby town or large city.


Related:  100 Must Do’s for the Newly Divorced Independent Woman


4. Don’t include pictures of yourself that you’ve posted elsewhere

Thanks to Google reverse image search pictures can be traced back to other sources. If you use your LinkedIn or Twitter profile picture, there’s a good chance anyone looking hard enough could find you there.

But even without Google, posting images you’ve shared elsewhere can be dangerous. I have a friend who used her Facebook profile picture on a dating app. One guy looked through Facebook for people in her town, found her picture, and showed up on her doorstep. So don’t do it. Be safe.

5. Limit what you reveal

If you’re a pediatric dentist and live in Pasadena, that information can help someone find out your full name, address, and more. Be vague about the details of your life and profession. I’m not talking about someone you’ve gone on several dates with but someone who you’ve only just started seeing.

Trust your gut (don’t demand that your gut give you a logical reason). If anything seems off, walk away. If your date reveals his actual name, a simple internet search may tell you some things about him. (Google for yourself to see.) I took this a step further once when a guy I was planning to meet had 12 criminal records, according to my Google search. I told myself, if I couldn’t figure out what that was all about, I was going to cancel the date due to a permanent case of “the flu.” Instead, I bought a one-month membership to Instant Checkmate and found out he’s just a really bad driver (all traffic violations—nothing actually criminal).

There are men out there who will be insulted or annoyed that you won’t reveal what they want to know before you’re comfortable. (I should know—I’ve met a couple of them.) In my experience, when a relationship moves past the first few dates and I develop a sense of trust, telling my date that my name is Elyse and not Ellie isn’t a big deal. Your date will understand and think: Why, what a smart woman she is. Hiding your full name or your phone number is hardly the same as, say, refusing to reveal your real age. Any date who would make a big deal out of you staying safe when online dating is not worth another moment of your time. So don’t take it personally—just move on!

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. Whether you navigating divorce or already rebuilding your life after the overwhelming experience, one thing making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not reinvent alone. We invite you to schedule a free 45-minute consultation with SAS to hear feedback, next steps, resources and best practices for creating the life you deserve.

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

How long does it take to get over a divorce

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

There’s a saying about getting over someone—that it takes half the time you spent together to truly move on. That means six months of wallowing for a year-long relationship—time that might drag on endlessly, or time that might fly by faster than you can blink. But for longer relationships? Those marriages that have spanned years and possibly decades? The waiting period is a whole other discussion, a conversation we are going to have now.

Because after divorce, you want your life back. But a part of you is still reliving the past, turning your marriage over and over like a skipping stone in your hand. A stone that, at some point, you have to drop. You have to let it go. For the truth of the matter is spending the next decade missing your Ex—and feeling sorry for yourself—is even more depressing than your actual divorce.

So you aim to help yourself, you start researching. You ask friends, you ask family (or maybe they ask you), “How long is it supposed to take to get over a divorce, anyway?” Yet, you get nothing in return, but differing answers leading to more questions.

Now you’re here reading, and we are with you. We know that sometimes arming yourself with knowledge is the best way you can feel in control, especially when it comes to all-things-divorce. So, how long does it take?

What science says

Past studies suggest that it takes a person, on average, eighteen months to move on after divorce, while others simply leave it at “it’s complicated.” And that’s the truth—divorce is complicated, and because of this, science is only so accurate. Some study participants, for instance, might have been separated before getting a divorce, while others had only just broken things off. Other participants may have wanted a divorce, while others still wanted to try to make their marriages work.

What is clear is that even when marriages look the same on paper, their insides are messy, intricate things that can’t be examined like a math equation.

What experience says

What we know, despite what our loved ones tell us or even what science says, is that people often discover they’ve “moved on” almost unconsciously. They wake up one morning, and the sadness they’ve been carrying feels different, less of a weight than a kind of memory. You’re in the middle of a conversation, for instance, or you are out shopping in the grocery store, and you see the latest tabloid announcing another celebrity divorce when you remember your own divorce, what you’re supposed to be grieving, or “missing” or reverberating from. Only you don’t so much. You feel stabilized. It’s not that you’re unaware of the scars you are wearing, but you own them now. And best of all, you no longer care. 

This not caring is freeing! It seems to happen a little sooner when you have distance from your Ex. That means no “let’s be friends.” No late-night, I’m-feeling-sorry-for-myself phone calls. No hookups “for old times sake.” In fact, to help with your healing, you must consider your past relationship like a drug, for a certain time at least. You have to cut off your exposure to the drug and to its many triggers.

You have to re-circuit your brain and teach it to do new things rather than reach for the phone to “let him have it” or to beg. (Drink a glass of water every time you want to call your Ex!) Limit your triggers of being reminded of him*. Unfriend him, or better yet, block your Ex on social media. Delete his number from your phone. If you are coparenting with him, only communicate through Family Wizard. This is about creating a buffer for the new and emerging you to grow. It’s not about adding to your confusion and grief by constantly being near the man you once thought you’d spend the rest of your life with.

But what if you aren’t grieving your “Was-band”? But grieving the loss of who you were in the marriage? Who you used to be? The lifestyle you enjoyed? The summer rituals you shared? What about the friends and family who played a role in that former life of yours?

Life after divorce is a whole new way of living, and it means almost by definition … change. A lot of change. You need time to grapple with the changes and the many losses you have suffered, ignored, or even, created. So really, when we ask how long does it take to recover from divorce? We are talking about the time it takes until “You’ve Got Your Groove Back.”

But what if you are tone—or you can’t dance? Getting your groove back does not explain what you are striving for?

In our 46 Steps to Divorce Recovery, A Definition and A Guide, we define this moment in time, post-divorce, as a process, a journey of its own within divorce where the  “emotional and practical restructuring and healing” is a “constant, cyclical process in which you are broken down and built back up numerous times until finally, you are whole again.”

Another way of saying this is, you will know when you are healed when all the shattered pieces come back together in a way that makes you feel proud of yourself.

What you can do to help yourself move on

The very fundamental desire to heal is your beginning. Now you must take steps. Try to avoid doing things that smack of those old familiar patterns and people you miss. At first, fighting these instincts will be hard, because during your marriage you probably did everything you could to bring all these things together—the people, the routines, the joys, the rituals. You tried to make the most of your marriage. But now your challenge is to create your “new normal,” and to do that, you’ll have to rediscover yourself and who you are now.

Some women find that their divorce recovery takes years, while others find that they’ve prepared for divorce so long that within months or weeks they already feel better than they have in years. To those in the latter camp, we say, yes, you may be feeling better. But don’t lose sight of the work and steps you must still be taking to ensure your healthy independence. Doing the work and practicing self care, will ensure you start seeing the signs that indeed, you have started to truly move on.

Here are some of those signs.

1. The idea of going on a date is thrilling

If, after divorce, you say to yourself whenever someone suggests you should get back out there,“What? Start all over? It’s so much work…” this is a sign that you’re not over your divorce. The idea of dating feels like a chore, a series of boxes to check off a list someone else has generated, rather than the adventure it can really be. So, don’t do it. Focus on yourself and what you need to discover about putting your life back together. Until you do this work, you will only be showing up half-heartedly or, damaged.

But if you feel a twinge of excitement at the thought of meeting someone new, then some part of you might be ready to move on—at least in the romantic department. Check in with yourself. Manage your expectations of self, what you want, what you need, and what you are willing to share.

2. You feel comfortable in your own skin

You’re feeling yourself. Not just feeling sexy—though there’s no shame in that, you feel healthy and fully of energy. You feel a sense of peace and balance. You have planted your feet in the direction you want your life to take. In short, you know who you are, and you like that person.

For some women, this may mean they’ve secured a job (a paycheck!) and routine. For others it may mean understanding at long last their finances, and what their plan is for moving forward. Or maybe the kids are no longer acting out but settling into their new routines at both houses, and this is giving you a chance to ease up in hyper-management of the shifting parts. But that frenzy of survival mode has passed. You are able to look up and consider what else might be possible for you now.

3. You feel positive about you future

Before your divorce and maybe even sometimes, afterwards, it was hard to care much about your future let alone believe there was anything good waiting for you there. But now surprising events or happenings have inspired you. You may be full of hope. Look! There’s so much about your life that’s new and surprising. You never could have predicted or planned for it.

There’s something beautiful about leaning into the unexpected.

Being positive about your future implies that you have taken a hard look at your past and come to a place of acceptance about it, both the good and the bad. It means you no longer carry the past like a weight. You’ve moved past blame. When you are living in the here and now, planning and building your new future, this is another strong indicator that you’ve begun moving on after divorce.

4. Your divorce doesn’t keep you up at night

The end of any relationship generally comes with a certain dose of feeling sorry for yourself. Nights spent crying yourself to sleep and days spent walking around in a daze. But now? You’re tired of being tired. You’re done with being sad. You find yourself making plans for your summer and spending more time with new people and those unbelievably wonderful, stalwart friends. One day you think to yourself, “When was the last time I thought about HIM?” And the fact that you have to think about that puts a smile on your face.

You might never truly “get over” your divorce, but over time, it will become a quieter ache instead of an intense pain. The heartbreak will callus over—you’ll be wiser and more prepared for red flags that may appear again. Experience is a gift that gives you the chance to learn from mistakes and failures. Whether those mistakes and failures are real or simply dancing in your head, time and doing the work you must will give you perspective.

When it comes to getting over a divorce, there’s no rulebook or timeline except the one that feels right for you. If you do nothing about your divorce recovery, you can expect very little to change about the way you are feeling. It will probably become more muddled and less pronounced. But did you grow from it? If you choose to support yourself by finding the help you need to really honor your beautiful life, you’ll discover the time it takes to get over your divorce will be just the right amount of time you need to move forward bravely and with grace.

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

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

Divorcing mother and daughter

How to Tell Your Grown-Up Children You Are Divorcing

Telling your children that you and their father are splitting up is never an easy thing to do. Luckily, there are an increasing number of good resources to help parents speak to young children about divorce—but what about children who’ve already grown up? While some things remain the same no matter how old your children are, approaching the topic of divorce with adult children comes with its own set of factors to consider.

The fact that your children are adults doesn’t mean that they won’t be upset. You are still their parents, after all, and they have only ever known the two of you as one unit, making your way through this world together—they will have questions. Make sure you’re ready to answer them.

Carefully consider how you’ll bring up divorce with your children

Don’t let the fact that your marriage is over slip out while you idly chat on the phone about the weather or your feelings about your boss. Don’t spring the big D-word on your children as they make wishes for their future over birthday candles or while your family sits around the table, digesting their Thanksgiving dinner.

Instead, with your spouse, figure out what you are going to say and then find a way to break the news about your divorce delicately. Your children may be angry, but by bringing up your divorce in a calm and considerate way, you’ll be able to move forward with less resistance and more kindness.

Don’t expect your children to respond maturely

On the other hand, it’s important to know that even if your children are older, people have a way of reverting to their Inner Child when they’re around their family, especially when bad news is being delivered. Their first reaction is likely to be self-involved—why are you doing this to me?—no matter how much conflict or dysfunction they may have witnessed over the years between you and your spouse.

If your own children respond to your divorce this way, it’s even more important that you let them. A no-fault divorce may mean that no one is to blame in the eye’s of the court, but to your children, you and your husband (or probably, one of you in particular according to them …. ) is 100% responsible for the end of your marriage. If you attempt to brush aside your children’s pain rather than confront it, you’re making it harder for them to heal and move forward. Your children want to know that your divorce isn’t their fault, that you and your Ex will learn to get along, and that they won’t lose one or both of their parents.

For books on how to healthily navigate difficult conversations, or for personal support for you, consider our post, The 35 Best Books on Divorce.

Keep your children’s involvement in your divorce to a minimum

Do not drag your children into discussions, negotiations, or arguments about the divorce process and what life after divorce will look like for you and your soon-to-be Ex. Leave the advice-giving to the professionals if you need guidance, like a family law specialist or divorce coach. Involving your children in negotiations can lead to resentment and the impulse to pick sides. The repercussions of this may have a long-term, detrimental impact on familial relationships.

Of course, if you have adult children, you may also have grandchildren. Grandchildren feel divorce keenly, so it’s important that you explain things to them. You and your spouse must remind them how important they are to you and that your divorce does not change that.

Answer your children’s questions as honestly and openly as you can

In our experience, trying to shield family members by hiding things from them or waiting “for the right moment” doesn’t help anyone. But remember that there is a line between honesty and therapy—don’t overshare or vent your frustrations about your husband to your children.

Your adult children will likely have different questions about your divorce than younger children would. “Who will I live with?” could well be replaced with “Where will we go for the holidays?” or “Will this affect my inheritance?” Your children might want to know a little about how finances will be split to give them peace of mind that both of you will be stable and secure, that you or your spouse are not left to a life of frugality while the other enjoys a cushy lifestyle.

If appropriate, perhaps after the initial conversation sharing the news that you are divorcing, explain how any pensions and inheritance may be affected by the divorce and the fact that a new will (or wills) may need to be drawn up to reflect the change in your circumstances. Make sure you have expert advice for divorcing parents in black and white before you discuss these details.

Work together and not against your spouse throughout your divorce

There are some basic guidelines for good coparenting, but the best examples of helping children through a divorce at any age come from couples who manage the process as amicably as possible. They don’t express negativity about their Ex, they don’t force their children to take sides, and they aren’t unreasonable during negotiations — or conversations concerning the children. They prioritize the healthy approach to all things as they face their decision-making. In doing so, they avoid the slash and burn approach. They help their family move forward.

Visit the Woolley & Co website or call 0800 321 3832 if you are in the UK and seek advice on any aspect of divorce and family law. This article was written for SAS for Women by family law solicitors Woolley & Co. Woolley & Co, who have offices throughout the UK and also advise British expats.

Whether you are thinking about divorce or navigating the experience and its aftermath, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do it alone. Smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of “After Divorce.” Learn what this would mean for you in a free 45-minute consultation.

Life after divorce

How to Overcome the 6 Hardest Things About Life After Divorce

People talk a lot about what it’s like to get a divorce, but those conversations don’t often extend to what life after divorce is like. Because, unless you’ve been divorced, you don’t quite get what this next phase is really all about.

During divorce, there’s a certain process: you have items to research, things to get educated about, decisions to make, meetings to attend, paperwork to file, and on and on—all of which are black and white steps you had to take to complete the business transaction of “dissolving” your marriage. And while those steps felt overwhelming, frightening, and generally all over the place (you may be or have been sad, in shock, mad as hell, disappointed, betrayed, in denial, or numb), the process, nevertheless, had a way of keeping you grounded. You had a goal. To get through a “negotiated” document, sign it, and obtain a divorce.

Now, as you look around in your new life after divorce, your sense of time — and what to do with it — is different. Even if you are struggling and fighting for survival, your mind and heart may be ruminating on the past and on “the who” you will become.

Yes, your life after divorce will be your juiciest stage if you are open to it

This is the “finding yourself” stage, and we urge you to have no shame about it.

Discovering and taking care of yourself will include preparing for what’s coming in your life where possible (implementing best practices that give you structure) and also learning to let go. This stage involves taking time to consider deeply your story so far, what brought you to the end of your marriage/relationship, and the good and bad roles you played.

Discovering who you are can get messy in a different way than where you’ve been. You can’t blame your husband for everything anymore. It’s time to pick up your baggage.

Based on our work coaching women, here are six of the hardest things about life after divorce—and more importantly, what you can do about them to make room for the good stuff. Okay, now deep breath…

1. It’s gone. Your life as you knew it

Sounds obvious, but a few of us are Resistors to Reality, women who spend months (years?) in denial about the fundamental impact divorce will have (or has had) on our lives.

A Resistor to Reality might strive to or blindly maintain the lifestyle she had when married—going on similar vacations, eating out at trendy, higher end restaurants, or placing groceries inside her cart without checking the price or quantity (so accustomed is she to buying “for everybody”). She might be paying the mortgage on an oversized and overpriced home because she either feels she is owed it, can’t face the prospect of change, or doesn’t want a move to “affect the kids.” She might be worried about downscaling for fear she’ll lose her friends or her social standing.

But now we all know, no matter how “amicable” the end of our marriages were, divorce has a way of turning our lives upside down. Divorce will take you outside your comfort zone. Divorce is about change.

Ideally, you started to metabolize these changes during the divorce process, and if you haven’t, your life after divorce is going to be harder—not just materially but psychologically and emotionally. The sooner you come to terms with your new reality the sooner you can adjust, redirect, and start shaping the future you want. Working with a divorce coach –during the divorce process, or as you rebuild your life — will help you understand what you can and cannot do as you actualize your best next chapter.

You may not feel it yet, but inside this vast unknown of Life After Divorce — there is a great, big beautiful life waiting for you.

2. Even when you do your best, your children will feel the effects of divorce

You’re a woman, not a robot. During and after divorce, your emotions may remain scattered, frayed, or short-wired. Everyday decisions may seem insurmountable. You try to be strong, to let it all roll off your back, because you want to be the best mother possible. You want your children to see you stand tall instead of falling apart. But you will have bad days, just like we all do. You slip. You might vent about your Ex to your children. Or they’ll overhear (eavesdrop?) you badmouthing him to a friend or family member in a moment of frustration or desperation.

No matter how old your children are—even if they are adults or not living at home anymore—divorce will impact them. It may affect their outlook and their ability to connect with others, including you and your Ex. Your splitting up will alter holidays and family functions. And although you may feel some closure with your Ex after the divorce document is signed or he’s no longer living in the same house, if you have children, he* will always be in your life.

Divorce may mean communicating with your ex-partner whom you never communicated well with before. You may be dealing with things like support orders and visitations, drop-offs and pick-ups. Your children’s lives will be disrupted, and afterward, each of you will have to figure out how to move forward and create a new life together.

According to the research, you can best support your children (and thus, yourself) through divorce, and life afterward, by being mindful of the ongoing conflict between you and your Ex. Children who suffer the most are those whose parents keep the hostility alive, who don’t aim to try to do things as amicably as possible. It is not, as you might guess, the history of your marriage when you all lived together in the same house, but how you two (you and your spouse) navigate the divorce.

When dealing with your children directly, among the best things you can do is to acknowledge their pain and perspective and not badmouth their father. Listen to them. Understand that while the reasons for your divorce might be obvious to you, they are less so to your children. You can help them feel less confused by being straight and honest and keeping the lines of communication open instead of shutting yourself off from the world. This does not mean treating your kids as an equal (even if they are “old souls” or “smart” or so-called “adults”) but being open about issues surrounding the divorce in an age-appropriate way.

Should you tell your kids you are leaving their dad because he cheated? Because he embezzled money? Because he’s an addict? We urge you not to share the gorier details until you and your children are out of the heat, down the road, when your kids are grown up.

If you wonder how to break the news to your kids, need support parenting as a single woman or coparenting with a challenging Ex, or would even like books that you could read aloud to your children, consider our post on the 35 best books on divorce.

3. Certain friends and family have “disappeared”

Divorce means change and you’re probably feeling this, socially and family-wise. It’s a huge awakening for many of us that friends we thought were so tried and true have disappeared or become mute. It’s as if they fear your divorce might be contagious.

Though we’ve come a long way culturally, lessening the stigma of divorce, meaningful people in our lives might still pick sides—whether they are forced to by your Ex, feel compelled to out of a sense of fierce loyalty, or have a preference to be with the “more fun” or more moneyed-spouse. This hurts. And it not only shocks, but it cuts to the bone, especially if you have little or no friendships outside of those you formed with your Ex during your marriage. You may be feeling bereft as you start off your new life.

When it comes to family, it’s clichéd but true: blood is often thicker than water. You may have had a great relationship with your Ex’s family, for instance. Maybe they’re a big clan and fun and tightknit—and you always had a particular connection with some of them. Getting a divorce, though, can cause them to draw a line and side with their blood relative. The wonderful relationship you had with them is no mas.

In the wake of the space left vacant by others, it’s important for you to touch in with yourself and find new hobbies and interests—this will help you discover new people. Push yourself to get outside so you shift your mindset, to take up an activity you’ve always wanted to but never “had the time” for before, to volunteer or travel. You can even join a support group with other divorced women who understand what you’re going through and who are committed to recreating their lives healthily — with intention — too.

4. An empty house

Coming home after work, making dinner for yourself, eating it alone, and not having someone to share your day with (if you’ve always had that) has a way of making you feel like you have no purpose. This is even the case with divorced women who didn’t have a lot to say to their Ex in the evening hours while married. But somehow watching Jeopardy in silence or a movie you both enjoyed now seems particularly enviable. At least you could hear another person breathing.

If you have children, the silence in your home when they are staying with their dad can be deafening at first. All the sounds children make means lives are being lived, and the emptiness left in their place can leave you feeling lonely and unanchored. Who are you if your children don’t need you?

But know that this is just a phase, new pains that you will overcome. There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. You may not be able to change the former, but you can change your mindset and decide that you never have to be the latter.

Use this time to reflect, to read, or to enjoy a quiet activity. Maybe you’ll become vegan (ha! Your Ex was such a carnivore!). Or you’ll adopt a dog from the humane society. Or you’ll use this time in the evening to meditate, do yoga, or go to the gym.

This alone time is important to your divorce recovery. You must come to terms with yourself and rediscover who you are before you can rebuild your life in a meaningful way or even show up whole and healed in your next meaningful relationship.

5. The shock of being “replaced”

Your Ex might start dating right after the divorce. He may even begin to date during your divorce proceedings. In either case, this can feel like a punch to the gut. Did he ever really love you? How could he date so quickly? What does she have that you don’t? Even if you wanted the divorce, it’s not easy to keep the green-eyed monster of jealousy at bay when you see or hear that the man you’d thought you’d spend the rest of your life with is hooking up (or more) with someone else. It can feel like torture.

Take heart, it’s not uncommon for many spouses to appear like they are “moving on” immediately after divorce, and some begin to date and sometimes remarry fairly soon. Those who do are often responding to the feelings of loneliness and/or the conventional understanding of what happiness is (to be married). If this is your Ex, he may not be pausing to reflect and heal from what you and he have been through.

The odds that his next relationship will be any happier than yours with him are very low. Very low indeed. He is simply not doing the work you know you must do in the early phases of your life after divorce.

To help lessen your pain, make sure you avoid contact with your Ex when possible, or places that remind you of him for a healthy period of time. Tell your friends (the good ones you still have) that you do not want to be kept au courante to what he is doing socially. It will hurt you. You are trying to look in another direction, with a goal of caring for yourself and nourishing you.

Develop a new daily routine that cultivates you, strengthen bonds with your family and friends, and makes space for you to metabolize all you’ve been through. Which brings us to our critical number 6 on the list. Keep reading.

6. Learning to let go and adapting to the Unknown

When you were married, you had a certain vision of your future. You probably had dreams of how you would retire, where it might be, who your social circles would be, what you would do, and maybe how often your grandchildren would visit. Divorce has changed all that. In your life after divorce, one of the hardest things is accepting that you must let go … let go all the dreams that involved him and, yes, others.

You must grieve and take stock of all the losses you have lived through. And recognize that you may not be grieving your husband so much as you are grieving a way of being and the fantasy that was your marriage.

Letting go means letting go of the idea that we can control everything

Life after divorce can be a painful time—it can also be a crazy time—but it is not a static time. The journey is not over. It’s just reached a particular place where it’s time for you to process your grief and reconnect with you and who you want to be. This is your work now.

After divorce, your canvas is blank. The slate is wiped clean. And as you stare at it, wondering, you might not have a clue what you want to fill it with. But let us assure you, you have no clue the marvelous things awaiting you. The hardest part is just getting started. Dare to discover. Pick up the paintbrush and begin.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS to partner them through the challenging experience of divorce and recreation. Now you can learn the Art of Reinvention post-divorce. Secure female-centered support and wise next steps as you rebuild your life — practically, financially, romantically, smartly — with  Palomas Group, our virtual, post-divorce group coaching class, for women only. To promote sisterhood and protect confidentiality, space is limited.

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

how to bring up divorce

How to Bring Up Divorce

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

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

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

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

The setting

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

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

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

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

The timing

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

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

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

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

The script

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

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

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

More on tone

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

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

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

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

Caution

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

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

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

The aftermath

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

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

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. For emotional support and structured guidance now, helping you move forward the healthiest way possible, consider Annies Group, our virtual divorce education, support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Learn what your choices and goals really are. Schedule your 15-minute chat to find out if this education is right for you, where you are in your life, and most importantly, where you want to go.

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

Emotional Divorce

What is an “Emotional Divorce” and the Top Reasons for One?

Sometimes the decision to divorce is a practical one, steeped in logic and rational thought; while other times divorce is a messy, complicated, and downright emotional thing. Maybe you know this because you’ve experienced it before or are currently living it. Or maybe your only knowledge of divorce comes from late-night television and bad movies.

Whether you see the signs of divorce plainly or in hindsight, the end of a marriage can be gut-wrenching. Like those bad movies, we only wish we could take away all the bad and boring parts of the divorce process and edit it all back together again to bring you right to the end. Unfortunately, we don’t possess those powers any more than you do. But what we can do is ground you with a bit of perspective and help you feel a little less alone. If you find yourself somewhere on the fence contemplating divorce, it might be helpful to know that you’re not the first person to feel the way you do now. We’ve focused on the 10 most common and practical reasons for divorce in a previous post. For this post, we’re focusing on the emotional divorce.

We know some of you may be thinking that all divorces are emotional—and you’re right about that. But while all (or certainly most) divorces tug at our emotions, not everyone makes the decision to divorce for emotional reasons. Some of the more common reasons for divorce come down to finances, distance, or religion. These are practical and cultural concerns. They are tangible. Sometimes those practical concerns make the end of a marriage feel a little “easier” when you’re around other people, with their many questions, judgement or even, sympathy. With an emotional divorce, however, everything feels more mysterious, amorphous. You might tell your friends and family you’ve become different people, but they look at you and all they see is more of the same. You want to explain how behind closed doors things look different than they do on the outside—the arguments and the resentment. But doing those things feels a lot like opening up rooms inside yourself that you’ve long since closed off to others. We understand. And if this sounds like you, read on.

And for the sake of conversation, we’re defining an emotional divorce as one that can challenge, break, and even extinguish your emotional attachment to your partner.

1. You’ve become different people

It happens over time. Sometimes you grow together, and sometimes you grow apart. One day you were both fans of poetry and, as silly as it sounds, watched all your favorite shows together, but then one day your partner started getting way more into video games or fantasy football and now, rarely spends quality time with you. Both of your interests have changed, and you no longer have much to talk about nor much interest in what each other is doing. It’s hard to feel the same way about someone when they aren’t the same person you’ve married—when they’ve transformed into someone you probably wouldn’t have dated in the first place. It happens. There’s no one thing that causes this, but you may wake up one day and ask yourself, who is this stranger and how could I ever learn to love him?

2. Cheating—yes, this is emotional

Cheating does happen in the physical realm and can be related to a whole host of pragmatic problems (say distance or sexual incompatibility), but this falls into the realm of emotional problems because it can fundamentally change the way you feel about your partner. Even if you are willing to give him another chance and work through it, the emotional damage is done. Trust issues (another practical reason for divorce with strong ties to the emotional) are now a given, and you might never be able to trust your partner again.

3. Lack of intimacy (not just sexual)

Your partner never talks to you anymore about their day, and their preferred form of communication with you is generally restricted to affirmative or negative grunts when you ask if you’d like pizza for dinner. They don’t want to cuddle anymore. They don’t ask how you are or even seem to care. The hopes, dreams, and aspirations you two once shared seem to no longer be subjects of conversation. While this can leak into your sexual relationship, that’s not always the case, which makes this lack of intimacy even more confusing. If you feel like your partner is withdrawn and nothing you’ve done can bring them back to the intimacy you once shared, there’s not much more you can do to salvage your marriage.

4. Resentment

Your partner bought a new car while you’re still struggling to pay off your daughter’s braces. You were promoted at work and are making significantly more than your partner, who seems upset by this. Your partner seems to think that all your skills come so naturally to you and makes underhanded comments. Resentment is a real thing that can ruin relationships, and when one or both partners are keeping a tally in a relationship, resentment tends to build and become hard to get rid of. Being resentful of your partner or having your partner resentful of you (or a mixture of the two) is no way to carry out a marriage nor build a loving partnership.

5. Constant heated arguments

It can be nice to come home to a calm, peaceful, silent house with a caring partner there to support you. But if you and your partner argue over everything at the drop of a hat, that imagined peaceful environment might never come to be. A lot of times arguing like this can be mistaken for passion and, to a point, arguing is a sign that you are committed to working out the differences in your relationship. But long, heated, and constant arguments that never resolve themselves are not a sign of a healthy or happy relationship. Worst of all, constantly being at battle with the person who is supposed to be your pillar and partner through life can leave you emotionally drained and keep you from investing yourself in your relationship. If you are divorcing and worry that the anger is going to follow you, you’ll want to read Axe the Anger after Divorce in 4 Steps.

6. Insincerity and dishonesty (outside of cheating)

Some people are compulsive liars, and sometimes we end up married to someone who thinks it’s okay to tell little white lies all the time. While the level of insincerity and dishonesty can vary by relationship and even by partner, there are some telling signs. If you can’t trust your partner to pay the bills on time and not spend the money elsewhere, or if you know your partner will make promises they’ll never follow up on, then you have a fundamental problem of trust in your relationship—one that affects you emotionally. It’s not only distrust at play here, but the false pretense that leads to false hope that maybe your partner will change this time and the inevitable disappointment that happens 9 out of 10 times when they don’t.

7. Jealousy and insecurity

This can seem reminiscent of trust issues, but jealousy and insecurity are really their own thing. If your partner constantly questions why you are with them or uses self-deprecating humor as a way of questioning your commitment to their relationship (e.g. why’d you marry me? I’m so awful. Haha.), you may see signs of jealousy down the road. This jealousy might not just be about time spent with your friends or coworkers—this can even extend to the attention you give to family members, pets, or your hobbies. The insecure and jealous person wants your time and attention—and anything, not just another person, that takes that attention away can make them upset and jealous. Unless you want your relationship to be all about your partner and spending every moment of every day reassuring them, this might not be a relationship worth keeping and can be downright exacerbating.

8. Losing yourself in your relationship

Your partner loves fish, so you eat it on Fridays. You can’t remember your favorite food. You’re wearing green to support the Packers even if your favorite team is the Patriots. Your partner needs you to move across the country and leave your job, your family, and your friends to pursue his dream and you do it—no questions asked. But now you are realizing that you don’t know who you are anymore and that your life has suddenly become about supporting your partner and not about a partnership.

9. Your relationship isn’t satisfying—in fact, it’s a drain

You’ve had a long eight-hour day, and you’ve just picked the kids up from drama club. You’re already tired, but when you get home, you know that your day isn’t over. Your partner asks about dinner but has made no effort to cook even though they arrived home before you. Your partner complains about laundry not being done or the kitchen not being clean enough but doesn’t lift a finger to help. They want to vent about their day at work and monopolizes the conversation so it’s only about them, leaving you with extra emotional baggage and no outlet for your own frustrations or feelings. This isn’t a relationship anymore—you are a cook, maid, nanny, and therapist who must also work outside of the home to keep your finances afloat. Sometimes being on your own is less draining in these kinds of situations because you’re already doing all the work anyway.

10. You’ve fallen out of love, and it’s not coming back

Maybe it’s one thing on this list or maybe it’s a bit of everything, or maybe it’s none of the above, but you just aren’t feeling in love with your partner anymore. You don’t think you can be a couple. It happens. It’s okay to acknowledge. To feel best about your difficult decision, you might check with a therapist or a coach to see if this may be linked to depression or another life event; or for ideas on exhausting everything before you call it quits. But if the love just isn’t there and isn’t coming back, there’s no partnership to salvage. Love is the foundation of marriage, and if it’s gone and you’re sure you can’t learn to love your partner again, then it’s time to figure out how you will live differently. You must get educated on what your change choices are.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. For emotional support and structured guidance now, consider Annie’s Group, our virtual divorce education, support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Learn what your choices really are. Schedule your 15-minute chat to find out if this education is right for you, where you are in your life, and most importantly, where you want to go.

Woman looking at painting

The 10 Most Common Reasons for Divorce

Divorce is never an easy decision to come to. Sometimes you might feel like you’re being too emotional, or, on the flip side, that you’re being too pragmatic and ignoring your feelings about your partner. In all honesty, there is no right or wrong, no single or compounded, no practical over emotional, no emotional over practical reason for getting a divorce. Each divorce is unique, and each situation leading up to divorce is unique.

If you’re actively considering divorce or beginning to see the signs that a divorce might be in your future, this post may help you find clarity in a storm of emotions and thoughts. Despite the uniqueness of every relationship, there are some common overarching themes people cite when going into a divorce that cause two people to be unable to move forward in a relationship.

Below are the most common reasons for divorce. We define common or practical reasons for divorce as ones that may not (though sometimes can) affect your emotional attachment to your partner but make the viability of the marriage unlikely.

1. Finances

When you married your partner, money didn’t seem like a big deal. You were probably both broke and young. Practicality comes with age—or, does it? If your partner is in massive debt and that debt is making it impossible for you to do practical things like buying a car, getting a loan on a house, or being approved for credit cards, your relationship may not have a future. If you have a partner willing to take steps to change this—to get an extra job or cut back massively on spending in order to move out of this debt—that’s one thing. But if your partner is completely unwilling to take fiscal responsibility or just won’t grow up and pay their bills, it’s time to find someone more responsible with their money.

2. Sexual incompatibility

Yes, this might seem like it would fit under emotional reasons, but sex is a real physical need and two partners with mismatched libidos or mismatched expectations can lead to an extremely unhappy marriage. When one partner’s idea of normal sexual activity is once a month and the other’s is once a week, that leads to emotional problems like resentment, insecurity, and withdrawal from intimacy. Now this isn’t to say that one partner should be more or less demanding, simply that a mismatch makes for a rocky, and sometimes irreconcilable, marriage.

3. Lack of equality

This isn’t to say that people who follow classic gender roles in their marriage (a stay-at-home mother, for example, and a husband who works) is an unequal situation that will lead to divorce; rather, that one partner in the relationship takes on the brunt of the physical, emotional, or financial burdens with little return so the relationship starts to feel one-sided in one (if not all) of these areas. Are you always planning the dates? Are you the only one paying the bills on time with little to no contribution from your partner? Does your partner ask for emotional support but offers you none? Then you are experiencing a lack of equality, and if things don’t change, a one-sided relationship isn’t one that should continue.

4. Long distance

This one is especially hard because it’s not as if your feelings for your partner have changed, just your proximity. Your partner got a new job. You got a new job. They are on the East Coast and you are on the west, with no chance of reuniting for years down the line. Yes, there are vacations. Yes, you can talk on the phone or Skype together a few times a week. But your partner won’t be there to hold you at night and that matters. For a short period of time with an end in sight, long distance is durable, but when it’s open-ended, it might be better to find a partner who’s in your locale.

5. Physical and emotional abuse

The physical and emotional abuser is, overall, clever with how they treat you. They can break you down but keep your attraction and love for them intact by giving just enough warmth and affection when you are down to make sure your feelings for them never change—or get deeper. Let us be clear here: if your partner is gaslighting and emotionally abusing you, if your partner is physically laying their hands on you, this relationship needs to end. Abuse is abuse, period. This isn’t the easiest thing to do, but take whatever steps necessary to get away from your abuser and find safety before filing for divorce.

6. Mixed religions and little compromise

Some conversations should really happen before marriage, and they don’t. Like whether you will your kids as Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or Protestant in a mixed-religion marriage. And even when those conversations did happen, it could be that one or both partners were simply hearing what they wanted and figured that later, the other partner would convert or give way. Religion is one really hard compromise to make if neither partner is willing to, and that makes sense: your religion and their religion is important. If counseling isn’t working, if neither side can agree, then it might be time to find a partner who does know how to compromise.

7. Addictions

We all change over time, but addictions change partners in ways we don’t expect. And this isn’t just addiction to drugs—people can be addicted to video games, work, and even seemingly innocent activities like keeping pets. If one pet turns into five, your partner begs you to start a rescue, and one day you wake up with twenty dogs who are poorly-kept in a house covered in hair, you’re living with an animal hoarder. If your once loving partner gets a new job and works five, ten, twenty, to thirty hours of overtime a week with no sign of cutting back, your partner has just become addicted to working.

This is a fundamental change to the foundation and function of your relationship, and you’re right to question if this relationship should continue if something completely out of the blue comes along and completely changes your way of life with your partner.

8. Trust issues

Early on in your relationship, your partner’s trust issues made sense—their Ex cheated on them, for example. You put up with the text messages while you were hanging out with your friends to check up on you. You were okay with them tagging along to events they weren’t specifically invited to because they didn’t want you going alone. But you’ve proven yourself. You’ve never lied, and you’ve never cheated. You’ve given your partner no reason to distrust you, yet you are under constant surveillance. This relationship isn’t salvageable if there’s no trust at the marriage’s foundation, and you’ve done all you can to prove that you are trustworthy.

9. Mismatched parenting styles

Your partner prefers you be the disciplinarian but won’t back you up on your discipline. Or, maybe you prefer time-outs with a stern explanation of what your child or children did wrong, and your partner prefers taking away toys or access to the TV. Maybe you want your children to work towards an allowance by doing chores, and your partner’s idea of an allowance is that it’s automatic. These are all fairly benign yet varying styles that can lead to multiple fights in child rearing—but there are more extreme examples out there, like one parent not wanting a gun in the home while the other wants their child to go shooting regularly. When it comes to raising kids, if you aren’t on the same page, it can lead to rocky marriages that shouldn’t continue.

10. Family interference

The in-laws were never a dream—you knew that. But what you didn’t realize was that your partner was never going to grow a backbone and stand up to them. So now your mother-in-law rules over all your holidays, constantly pops over and comments on your housekeeping, and generally belittles you with little or no defense from your spouse. It’s not always the in-laws, sometimes it could be your partner’s sibling who’s going through a rough time, is charged with a crime, is an alcoholic or drug addict and just needs a place to stay, and your partner is fully on board with supporting them while you aren’t sure about bringing them into your home. If your partner lets their family get in the way of your relationship and never stands up for you, your wants, and your needs as a couple, it might be time to end this relationship.

Remember, the reasons for divorce listed above are only the most common and by no means the only reasons women seek a divorce. Sometimes the reasons someone seeks a divorce are less pragmatic and tangible, stemming from deep-rooted insecurities or the stark truth that they’ve grown apart from their partner. Whatever your reasons, they can be difficult to come to terms with on your own, and too many women spend far too long feeling stuck somewhere in between—knowing they need to make a change in their life but not what that change should look like for them. At the very least, we hope this list makes you feel seen. You’re not alone, and you deserve to live life on your own terms.

Since 2012 smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to help them through the emotional and often times complicated experience of divorce. For a strategic education and emotional support now, consider Annie’s Group, our virtual divorce support and coaching class for women thinking about divorce or beginning the process. Schedule your 15-minute chat to learn if this education is right for you, where you are in your life, and most importantly, where you want to go.

Woman packed leaving her husband

Overthinking When to Leave Your Husband

You have a bad fight or a bad day with your husband—or more likely, you’ve had a series of them. So many thoughts race through your mind, but there’s one that stands out the most: I want a divorce. Sometimes this thought surprises us so much that we can’t be sure we really had it at all. We push the thought to the back of our mind and bury it deep. We smile and pretend, and everything goes “back to normal.” But because our normal means being unhappy, the cracks appear again. We have another bad day. And when it rains, it pours. All those emotions and moments we buried rise to the surface in the storm.

You are lost and stumbling through the fog that is Considering Divorce Syndrome (CDS). All you seem to have are questions and no answers. I want a divorce, or do I? I want a divorce, but should I? How do I even begin to leave my husband*?

When you find yourself searching for instructions on how to leave your husband, it’s the beginning of a long and confusing journey. We know that you are in pain and emotional turmoil right now—that is why you’ve found your way here. Our job is to help you break the cycle of wondering that’s associated with CDS with points you should be thinking about and considering.

As you’re considering divorce, keep your marriage in context

So, you’re thinking to yourself, “I want to divorce my husband.” Did this thought just come out of nowhere? Or has the idea been a living and breathing” thing” lurking in the back of your mind for some time now?

Did you and your husband have a blowup? Are you still seething? Do you feel depressed? Are you reacting from a highly-charged or frustrated place, typing “Should I leave my husband?” into the search engine?

“Early on in my marriage,” Sally told us she and her husband went to a couples’ therapist. “At the first meeting, the doctor said, ‘Why did you react that way?’ when my husband described a story about me. Without waiting for my response, the doctor asked me more, ‘Were you menstruating?'”

We’ve all experienced a moment like this, haven’t we? We’ve been told that our “issues” or “moods” are related to our highly emotional states, which must be a function of our biology. And because we are women, when we are feeling things outside a man’s comfort zone, we are “crazy” or “PMSing” or both.

For the sake of this post and our sanity, let’s set that experience aside, and ask, How long have you wanted to leave your husband? Or if you don’t really want to leave your husband, why is it that you think you should?

If divorce has been something more than a random thought but a persistent idea that’s been circulating in your head for a long time now, you’ll need to ask yourself even more questions.

How committed are you to divorce, on a scale of 1 to 10?

If you’re a 10, you are fully committed to divorce—you’re OUT the door! If you’re a 1, you’re happily, even blissfully married.

But it’s not just about how you feel right now, at this moment. Today could be a 10 and the rest of the month a 1. You need to check in with yourself over the course of the month and keep a private record (somewhere safe, somewhere secret) to see the ebb and flow of your happiness over the month. If the numbers are 5 or above most days, it’s time to seriously start looking at ways to change your relationship. A divorce coach is a great, safe person to talk to if you’ve started seriously thinking about what else is possible for you.

Wait, there are still other reasons to stay married, right? I don’t need to talk to a divorce coach yet

So, you look at your commitment chart and see mostly 5s, a couple 3s, and even some 10s plastered on the page—but then you think of the kids. Divorce will be hard on them! There’s always a chance your husband can change, right? And who knows, you might even change too. Things can get better. There’s always hope, even the hope of finding hope when confronted with the reality that hope may have fled your marriage long ago.

There’s this voice inside your head that’s saying “If I talk to someone, I might have to act on what I’m feeling. I might have to do something about this truth,” or “No, I can’t talk to anyone yet. There’s still hope I can turn things around.”

“I want to leave my husband” suddenly becomes “we’re just having a rough patch.” Only the rough patch never ends.

The truth is, many women find themselves circling a 5 on that scale. They are halfway out the door, while the other half isn’t sure exactly what they want, except change.

Listen: living in this stage is purgatory

Revisiting the question of  “should I…or shouldn’t I divorce” keeps you unsettled and compartmentalizing ( — on one level functioning, on another level wondering if your world is falling apart). This is one of the insidious and oddly, paralyzing effects of CDS.

Maybe you think you are fun and easy to live with? On some level, you are being cruel to your husband, your kids, and yourself by continuing to live in such a hovering and non-committed place.

You may think you are fooling everyone, but it’s more likely you’re only fooling yourself.

Luckily, we know this syndrome of divorce ambivalence acutely. We were like you, sitting on that pointed, painful fence called “considering divorce” for far too long.

So, allow us to deliver the sometimes brutal truth that will save you time: nothing is going to change unless you do something.

Did you go to marriage counseling and find it didn’t stick, with you and your partner ending up in the same old dysfunctional routine? Do you complain to your friends regularly about your husband’s behaviors but never do anything to try to change things? Do you withdraw from your marriage or the world or act out in various ways but still find yourself at home or in bed next to the same man night after night?

It’s time to break this pattern.

How is your health?

CDS, the constant cycle of considering divorce and not following through, can take a toll on your health. This repetitive and constant stress is going to wear on you, no matter how strong you are.

You are not living your life authentically. Your body might be showing you the signs through symptoms that range from feeling tired all the time no matter how much you sleep, a loss of appetite, a sense of being removed from things you once enjoyed, disconnected to your friends and family, constant flu or cold-like symptoms when doctors say there’s nothing wrong with you, and so on. These are all signs of depression which can be linked to stress.

You and I might look around and see marriages with similar or even more dysfunction and stress than yours—some of your best friends might be living with CDS and seem to function fine between complaints about their spouses—but you are not them, and they are not you. And every marriage, even in its dysfunction, is different.

If you are feeling burnt out, done, and you have decided you can no longer live in the purgatory of waiting for change or trying but not fixing the dysfunction in your marriage, you need to own where your marriage is right now. You need to face the possibility of a future as a divorced woman, and you need someone to talk it out with. Right now.

If you are in an abusive marriage, read this article right now.

If you are in a relationship where the pressure is “manageable,” you can prioritize the time to figure out if you should or should not divorce and what would be the healthiest way of doing it. If that’s you, then you are the woman we are talking to right now. Our critical suggestion is that you get educated on what your choices are. Get ready. Because the truth is if you’re constantly considering divorce, there’s a reason and you owe it to yourself to stop thinking about it and take action. The right action is talking with someone who can help you figure out what your independence might look like.

 

Whether you are considering a divorce, navigating it, or already rebuilding after the overwhelming experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.

Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Take advantage of our free consultation we give every brave woman. Schedule your free, 45-minute consultation for support. Whether you work with us further or not, we guarantee you will learn a new resource, a piece of information, or an insight that will give you a next step or help shift your way of thinking what is genuinely possible for your life.

 

 

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