Monday, 30 March 2020

How to deal with divorce when your husband cheated

We’re negotiating our divorce settlement and I believe I should be compensated for losing the family I wanted. My husband cheated, decided to leave, and I now miss my kids half the time and don’t have a real family.

I am so pissed I have to pay alimony! He was unfaithful — how is that fair!?

He moved in with his girlfriend — the one he had the affair with. I will never be nice to her and do not want my kids exposed to her. She is a horrible person!

I make sure I don’t get a raise so he will have to keep paying alimony. That way, he doesn’t get off the hook — my husband cheated, went on to make way more money than I do. He needs to be punished.

For the record, my ex-husband didn’t cheat on me. He did announce to all his guy friends (some of whom told me) that the minute he moved out he had a number of hotties he planned to ask out, which, in the depths of my pregnant self, hurt like a mother.

Ask any divorce lawyer, and they will tell you: When there is infidelity, settlements are all but impossible, rationale goes out the window, and contention runs higher than in other matrimonial dissolutions.

“That betrayal colors every single part of the divorce process, and makes it so much harder for the cheated-on spouse to be reasonable,” said my BFF single mom friend, New York City family attorney Morghan Richardson.

It is understandable why cheated-on spouses go so bananas with rage. You had a deal. You would sleep with and only love each other. You and your family came first, no matter what. 
That is the deal in marriage today, and you signed up and stuck it out, and he didn’t. That isn’t fair and it sucks so freaking bad.

Also: Trust. You trusted him. You trusted yours was the only pussy he would put his dick into. You trusted him when he said he was working late, or having a beer with his friends or at work during working hours and not running around in the back of his car or at her house where her kids played in the next room.

This was not the man you knew and love (yes, currently. You probably still love him, at least a little. Or a lot). If he had a secrete life, untoward agenda about his romantic life, can you trust him to be the father you thought he was? What else is he lying about? Money? Accounts?

If this is you, if your now- or soon-to-be-ex cheated on you, here is what you do:


Get all up and messy with that pain. Yes, you were betrayed, lied to and manipulated. 
Perhaps you took seriously your wedding vows, or simply trusted him. That is serious and you must acknowledge it, work it through with your therapist and understand why it happened and how it affected you.The wedding ring in divorce needs to go, it will make you feel better to be rid of it.


When it comes to moving through and past divorce or other serious breakup involving kids or assets? It matters to a judge or the divorce negotiations zero. ZERO!

No-fault divorce is standard in ever state, judges could care less. They’ve heard it all before, and it matters none how many people he fucked, whether they were your best friend, neighbor, sister or cousin. Don’t care! Doesn’t affect how much money each party gets, and infidelity does not affect his ability to parent.

Those judges are right, and they are correct. If you understand what the law says about divorce, it will help guide your negotiations. Whether you mediate or each retain attorneys, the goal is usually to avoid trial, and therefore apply to any discussions what a judge would typically rule. Hopefully, you have a great lawyer who will guide you through a slit that is as low-conflict as possible. Listen to her. And she will tell you: No one in the legal world cares a bit that he cheated. Remember that!


No financial compensation for your broken heart, and no parental upper hand because you loved him more than he loved you. Sure, you can blackmail a bigger financial settlement in exchange for not telling his super-religious mom about the Korean prostitutes, but she probably already knows. And if not, who cares? He’s not your husband any more, he can’t give you an STD any longer, can’t spend your money any longer, and it is over. Plus, no one likes a tattle tale. All you can do is move on. The closest you will get is to sell your diamond ring he gave you and feel good about it.


Look, people cheat every single day, and have since the dawn of humanity. It hurts, yes it does, and those feelings are real and valid. But ever-after, fantasy love and lifelong marriage based on romantic feelings? Never proven sustainable, and face it: You know it. 
You know that is a fact now as you read this, and you knew it when you got married, and before that, too. You know half of marriages don’t last. And you know plenty of married people who have affairs. I’m not passing judgement on this fact one way or the other. But it is a fact, and if you thought you were immune from it, well… now you know you were naive and wrong. I’m sorry for your pain, but that has nothing to do with what happens next.

Shit happens. Shit happens in business, in the economy. The natural world is full of shit happening, the government is a mess and your friends will inevitably let you down. Do you wallow in it? Or do you own your feelings, sort out your part of the mess, and push forward into a brighter future?


Ask any divorce lawyer. Family court judge, therapist or best friend of a divorced person: The people who thrive after a split are those who get on with it already. No matter the circumstances, they forgive, focus on what they can control (not him, for cryingoutloud! YOURSELF. Your life, feelings, actions. YOU!). They don’t drag the ex to court every other week, or get into text pissing matches, blaming the other party for “ruining our family.” They accept their kids’ new step parents and ex’s romantic partners, because, what is the other choice? To badmouth the person to your kids for eternity? Spew vitriol across the aisle at your kids’ wedding, or confirmation or bat mitzvah? Wallow in the pain and contrived victimhood of your divorce? Not a good look.

It may take time to actually, authentically feel better and whole and strong again. Until then, fake it till you make it. Be civil and focus on getting through the horrors of the divorce process. I’ve been through a divorce, and let me give you the best piece of advice I can: 
GET OUT OF THAT PLACE ASAP! Clench your jaw and get to the other side as graciously and maturely as possible. Help your kids acclimate to their new living arrangement. Be at the very least civil and non-violent to his new (or maybe not-so-new?) girlfriend. Bite the shit out of that tongue. Just bite it and smile.

This is want that for you: A happy, STD-free future, full of forgiveness and peace. You got this. But it is on you.


Thursday, 26 March 2020

8 Things No One Ever Tells You about Divorce

Number Three May Surprise You

When you decide to divorce, it’s almost as if you’ve entered a club with a super-secret handshake — only no one is quite certain how to do it. So we asked the community what they wished they had known before they decided to file for divorce. From the emotional breakup of their marriage to the financial upheaval, here are some is helpful advice from people who have been through the real life turmoil of uncoupling. Read on for the 8 things no one ever tells you about divorce.

1. If you are parents, you have a relationship with your ex forever… but it’s very different.

“First, you and your spouse go from being best friends to enemies almost overnight,” says community member Banshee1, a 30-something dad who is in the process of getting divorced. The difference, according to Paula1, a single mom who was married for four years to a man who cheated, is this: “He doesn’t have to listen anymore. He doesn’t have to work out problems.”

To make matters worse, writes Georgia resident Rebec311, “Your ex will not cooperate… they want to stick it to your for whatever they think you did. They will not be fair at all or logical.”

Eve31, a single mother whose spouse has refused to mediate their divorce, relates a similar experience, one in which a soon-to-be ex is “always lingering in the background waiting for you to slip up so they can pounce on you again through the legal system because now they have a new life — and no longer want to be responsible for their first life.”

She describes the toughest part: “The little questions from the kids like, ‘Why do we have two houses?’ will drive you nuts.” And if you’re angry with your former spouse for driving those questions, parents say your children can sense it. “Don’t even think bad thoughts about their dad when they are within five miles of you,” community member timless says.
The best advice, said Maryland salesman wave, whose wife left him after 30 years is, “Keep your children first, always.”

2. Divorce starts after you’ve signed the papers.

You can go to Las Vegas and get married in 30 minutes, according to Eve31, “but getting a divorce takes a lot longer,” she says. Purebredinip, a California woman whose husband told her he “wasn’t happy,” says: “They should make divorcing easier, but getting married difficult.”

“What no one tells you,” says Eve31, “is what it’s really going to cost you to be divorced… your youth, your sanity, your faith, your trust, your ability to wake in the morning with hope.” You now second-guess all your decisions: “Your ex destroys your trust but also your ability to sometimes trust yourself,” she explains.

“The real pain starts after you sign the divorce decree, ” Paula1 continues. “Every fight can now lead to court, which costs you money. Every disagreement now leads to heated arguments where nobody wins. Every new life stage (dating spouses, remarriages, kids asking more questions, kids suffering with divorce) equals more pain.”

3. If you’re the custodial parent, every other weekend is a blessing.

Essentially, you are raising your children alone — even if your former spouse has them for a few days a week or every other weekend. If you have young children, it will be a long time before you can take a shower that’s longer than three minutes. “You’ll fight it during the divorce proceedings, but will count down the hours for his weekend after,” Paula1 writes.
And what if you’re ex has found a new partner? “You spend all your time raising the kids, through sickness, surgeries and through all the heartache and picking up all the broken pieces that the divorce has caused,” says community member Paris299.

Work can also become a refuge.”Taking care of kids all weekend without any help is hard and exhausting. Monday mornings now become something you look forward to,” Paula1 writes.

4. You lose a lot of friends and family in divorce.

Girl70 said her husband filed for divorce after having an affair. His family sided with him. “I was with him for 22 years. It is like I didn’t exist. It’s as if I was the one who had the affair. I truly cared for my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law. I miss them the most,” she says.

The reaction from friends can also be tough. “Some people will treat you like divorce is catching…like leprosy,” says Tracy74 of Michigan, whose husband fell in love with another woman. “Your married friends will fear you being around their husbands/wives,” agrees community member kdb, a 50-something mother of three whose husband told her he wasn’t in love anymore.

Community member Banshee1 felt a sense of being “completely alone” and “misunderstood by married friends” who took sides during the breakup. “You will lose a lot of friends/people that you like a lot because of your soon-to-be ex,” agrees Rebec311. “The friends you keep will either love you more and be there more or have no clue how to talk to you.”

What’s more, “You think they are all a bunch of whiny children, since you’re doing it all alone now, and they have husbands to help,” says Paula1.

5. The courts do not care.

You will waste money if you treat your divorce attorney as a therapist. Timless explains, “That’s what your girlfriends and personal therapy is [sic] for. If you don’t have them, get them before you start the process.”

The court system is “cold,” says Rebec311, “and its participants don’t care about your feelings. It’s treated as a business.”

“Are your kids sick and is your ex clueless about how to take care of them? The courts don’t care. He still gets them,” says Paula1. “Is your ex-spouse not paying child support because he’s unemployed again? The courts don’t care. Visitation and support are not tied. Is your ex-spouse living with a drug addict with nose rings? The courts don’t care. As long as he is a good parent and doesn’t abuse them, he still gets them and can have anyone around that he wants.”

Maryland salesman wave, whose wife left him after almost 30 years of marriage, was surprised that the courts didn’t take into account who was at fault in the break up. “She turns 49, her mother dies, she got her inheritance, and two months later, she wants out. I have no drug or alcohol problems, no money problems, no abuse, no womanizing, but I lose half, plus I pay her child support…and she keeps the inheritance…The courts don’t care about right or wrong.”

6. Money is always an issue.

“You don’t just worry about money. You obsess over it,” writes Kitty7470, a 40-something mom from Ohio whose husband had an affair after 20 years of marriage.

“If you had a traditional marriage in which both parents were working, etc., get used to living on half. Child support, if paid, does not cover much. It’s not as much as you think it will be (which is another ridiculous tragedy by the courts), and your savings is probably wiped out by divorce costs,” explains Paula1.

Banshee1 doesn’t feel his financial settlement was fair. “It was tough for me to give up everything and move into an apartment that’s about a quarter of the size of my house — taking almost nothing,” he writes. Plus, as the breadwinner in his family, I will be taking the majority of the debt load, taking on losses due to the sale of our marital residence and providing significant child support payments to my soon-to-be ex.”

However, he says, “There is hope for recovery.” He’s slowly rebuilding and making a home for his children. And he believes he’s better off today. “(My ex) and I had very different views on money, and now that I’m on my own, I can save the way I feel most comfortable.”

For Soon2Bfine, a 40-something administrative assistant whose husband cheated on her, money wasn’t her biggest financial problem. When her spouse stopped paying the credit card debt after their divorce, he ruined both their credit ratings. “Having a great job means the money is there to make the payments, but good luck getting a loan for anything,” she wrote.

7. Your ex — and you — have personal lives.

Building a new life doesn’t include whining about your ex. “Learn to deal with it and not hold on to it,” Kitty7470 says. And when your ex finds a new partner? “They now have a say in your entire life, because your ex lets them.”

Banshee1 says he’s surprised at how bitter people can be. “I’ve talked to so many people that get upset because they believe their ex is doing better than they are or are suffering less. My feeling is — focus on you and your life. You can spend the rest of your life comparing to your ex-spouse and miss out on opportunities that are right in front of you.”

And some further advice: “Your ex has a life and so do you. Don’t share,” says timless. “I’ve learned to keep things focused on my daughter and vague pleasantries. Any unnecessary details come back to bite me in the butt.”

8. You will get a second wind.

When you think it won’t get any better, just keep moving forward. “The train wreck that was your life during the divorce suddenly gets a makeover as soon as your divorce is final,” timless says. “Somewhere near the end you have one final cry and then get a second wind. This is your saving grace, your reward for the pain and suffering.”

Unhappily married to her high school sweetheart for 15 years before she finally asked for a divorce, Wow65 agrees, saying when the divorce was final she realized: “I could do what I wanted with my life and have a great time doing it.”

“Now is the time to focus on you,” Banshee1 advises. “Look at divorce as a chance to rebuild, to start fresh. Yes, there will be hurt, loneliness, frustration — but that’s life, isn’t it? 
For me, I’m taking the experiences that I’ve had has a husband and turning them into a guideline for how I want to live my life as a man. I will always and forever be a father to my children — and my focus is 150 percent on them. But, to be the best father that I can be I must learn to take care of myself, too. I’m learning to pursue my dreams, and through that inspire my children (and possibly others) along the way. My legacy to my children will be strength and perseverance even when the chips are down.”

Divorce coach Annie O’Neill added: “You have your whole life ahead of you to do what you want to do. It is a chance to reinvent yourself, a new chapter of your life. You have to put your marriage behind you and decide to move on.”


Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Why Friendships Take A Dive After Divorce

As a young girl, I instinctively appreciated the importance of friendship. I gravitated to older girls who I could admire and look up to. Reflecting on my adult friendships, I’ve come to realize that true friends stick by you no matter what. They’re there for you when the chips are down, your boyfriend cheats on you, or you lose your job. Since I grew up with three sisters and have been lucky to have many wonderful friends, I was surprised by how my friendships changed after my divorce.

After my divorce, which was over a decade ago, several friends seemed to vanish into thin air or became distant. To this day, I struggle with figuring out why my divorce cost me so many friends. I’ve spent plenty of hours analyzing this and only recently realized that I’m not alone. When I mentioned this to a colleague, she expressed curiosity and encouraged me to research the topic.

What I found out may surprise you. While there isn’t much research on the topic of friendship after divorce, most studies report that after a breakup, friends often fall by the wayside. Fortunately, I found a highly informative chapter on post-divorce friendship in Dr. Bruce Fisher’s book, Rebuilding When your Relationship Ends. I was also inspired by a blog written by Aunt Becky for Cafe Mom’s blog “The Stir” entitled, An Open Letter to My Happily Married Friends. In this insightful post, Aunt Becky admonishes her friends to be more tolerant and empathetic about her recent divorce. She writes, “things don’t always work out as planned, my dear friend.”

Most people report that some of their friends become invisible while they’re in the process of divorcing. Sadly, this was my experience and I’m still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The first Christmas after my marriage collapsed, I was struck by how few invitations arrived via email or my mailbox. I quickly learned that there are many reasons why friends disappear or become remote.

Perhaps one reason why friendships change so much after divorce is because friends — like some family members — aren’t comfortable with grief and so become rejecting or cool. They might even side with your ex, not realizing that they are polarizing and encouraging conflict between the two of you. Friends and family often take sides after divorce. Let’s face it — most people don’t have a clue about how to support a friend who is suddenly single.

Dr. Fisher, a renowned divorce expert, cites four main reasons why friendships change after divorce. I hope this list helps you gain insight and feel less isolated.

1. You are seen as a threat. As a newly divorced person, you are suddenly seen as eligible to your married friends — so invitations die off or disappear.

2. Divorce is polarizing. Friends tend to side with one partner — either the ex-husband or ex-wife. Rarely do friends maintain contact with both partners. Thus, you might lose the friends who sided with your ex.

3. Fear.
Many people fear that if they associate with others whose marriages ended, theirs will head in the same direction. Several women I interviewed for my book Love We Can Be Sure Of told me that the shakier their friend’s marriage appeared, the more quickly they were abandoned by that person.

4. Social Stigma. Married people are simply seen as mainstream and more acceptable in our couple-orientated culture. While this issue has subsided somewhat in the past decade as we’ve witnessed the second and third generation of divorce in our country, it’s still alive in many social circles. Divorced people are viewed as part of a singles subculture where the standards are seen as looser, and that may make some married people uncomfortable.

Divorce can change the dynamics in any relationship, and particularly in friendships, it’s important to set boundaries. For instance, you might feel like venting with a friend and bemoaning the loss of a love, and they might not be up for a heavy conversation. Letting your friends know what your needs are can be very helpful. Be sure to tell them the truth but be sensitive to their limitations and desire to discuss other topics. It’s normal to feel emotionally needy as you’re navigating the grieving process, but friends play a different role than counselors. So give them a breather by keeping things light at times.

If you’re reading this and wonder how to support a friend post-divorce, perhaps the best thing you have to offer them is acceptance and a listening ear. Try to avoid appearing judgmental since they may be hypersensitive to comments that come across as blameful. 
Think about it — when someone is grieving the loss of a marriage, they need time to grieve and gain a better perspective on things. Ideally, friends will be there for each other when they are at their worst. Some are definitely keepers.

In my case, I’ve been lucky to make new friends who have enriched my life since my divorce. Fortunately, I have even held onto a few friendships for decades, in spite of my changes in lifestyle and marital status. I’ve been blessed with the good fortune of having many amazing friends who have been there for me during times of turmoil and triumph, as I hope I have been able to do for them.


Tuesday, 24 March 2020

6 Common Reasons Why Long-Term Marriages End in Divorce

According to, in 2015 the average lifespan for men is 77 years for men, 81 years for women. Compared to an average life expectancy of 67 and 74 in 1970, we are living quite a few years longer. Those extra years can be playing a role in the reason long-term marriages end in divorce.

Add to that, people in midlife and beyond are more active, working longer and taking on new challenges without a second thought and it is reasonable to think that cultural changes also play a role.

Society puts an emphasis on personal happiness and fulfillment and not just for those still wet behind the ears. Individuals, 50 and older are as invested in living happy fulfilling lives as their younger counterparts. If that means leaving a long-term marriage of 30 or 35 years so be it.

A person of 50 or 60 who is experiencing an unhappy marriage, in this day and age, has no problem letting go of that turmoil in search of a happier more authentic life. Dan, who is ending his marriage of 32 years explained it to me this way.

“Only time can make one understand life and relationships better. It also creates change in oneself. Though it took me a long time to realize this, I am definitely different today than in 1985. What I need and desire is different than three decades ago. Many of my liberal values have moderated. And, all of those material possessions that I wanted as a young man no longer appeals to me (I drive a 2003 Toyota Camry).

The same goes for my wife. When we met, everything about us was very similar. I am talking about values, views, education, and even sex.

Time changed that. She has grown on a different path than me. It may be a parallel path, but the differences are enough that my marriage is very stressful to me at times. I have been unhappy for a long time due to us growing apart. I hate that cliché, but we really have some differences. Communicating my concerns has not changed anything nor can it as we are different people today.”

Dan is not alone in his discontent with life and his marriage. Both men and women over 50 are leaving their marriages in search of more out of life. Below are six reasons long-term marriages end in divorce.

Common Reasons Long-Term Couples Divorce

1. Infidelity

Infidelity is as old as marriage and it doesn’t matter how old a person becomes they still have sexual needs. Most, anyway. When intimacy becomes stale or lacking in a marriage, one spouse may look outside the marriage for the opportunity to rediscover the pleasures of something that has been missing…their sexuality. Infidelity may be the cause of divorce for a long-term marriage, but, in reality, infidelity is only a symptom of a problem in the marriage. A symptom that finally breaks the bond between husband and wife.

2. Wanting Something Better Out of Life

Like Dan above, we all change with time. What someone wants out of life when they married at 25 may be different once they hit fifty-five. It may sound cliché but, couples do grow apart. They become strangers or roommates who have little in common. The desire to feel an emotional bond with a life partner has motivated many to divorce their spouse later in life.

Men and women who experience a midlife crisis often leave their marriages in search of a new identity and a relief to the pain they experience during middle age and facing their own mortality.

3. A Desire for Independence

It’s common for women who have been dependent on their spouse to long for independence as they age. Especially if they go back to work after the children are out of the home. The more financially stable a woman becomes the more it destabilizes a less-than-happy marriage. Being financially independent also means more confidence in their ability to start over alone after a long-term marriage and find happiness.

4. There Is Less Stigma Attached to Divorce

Divorce is more commonplace and accepted than it was 30 or 40 years ago. Those who stayed married due to religious beliefs or, fear of societal shunning are feeling free to leave a marriage. For example, the Catholic Church is in discussion over lowering the cost and administrative burden of annulments and participation by remarried Catholics in the Eucharist.

When questioned about divorce, Pope Francis urged all Catholics to show compassion and mercy in all situations.

When it comes to divorce, society and religious leaders have become more tolerant, making divorce an easier moral decision for some.

5. An Empty Nest

Some marriages are held together by children. Once those children become adults and leave the home there is no reason to remain in the marriage. When you are emotionally anchored to each other by raising children, there is nothing left to focus those emotions on after that job is done. One or both spouses may move toward divorce and the pursuit of a new partner or the freedom to do the things they couldn’t do when raising children.

6. Retirement and Too Much Time Together

If a couple has spent decades focused on raising children and building a career and home, they can find too much time together after retirement the death knell to their marriage. They not only need to like each other, they better love each other or they will find themselves spending a lot of time in the company of someone they don’t want to be with after retirement.

Unless a couple is happy living parallel lives and doing their own thing, on their own, retirement can be the final tolling of a bell for a marriage.

Last week my sister and brother-in-law celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary. It was a happy celebration but one that didn’t mean their marriage would make it to 40 years. I used to believe that if a couple could make it through the first few tumultuous years of marriage that the odds were in their favor. With the rise in gray divorce rates, that is no longer true. 
No marriage is exempt from divorce.


Monday, 23 March 2020

Surviving Emotionally While Divorcing A Narcissist

Narcissistic behavior is one of the character traps Dr. Mark Banschick explains in his article on Malignant Divorce. According to Dr. Banschick, "the narcissist is completely self-serving and selfish." So, how do you get through a divorce unscathed if your spouse is narcissistic?
In some situations, a divorcing couple is made up of one narcissist and one reasonable person, the narcissistic spouse can single-handedly create enormous conflict.

The narcissist’s negative actions and response to the divorce cause the reasonable spouse to go into defensive mode especially if there are children involved.

To those who don’t know better, it looks like the reasonable spouse is fully engaged in creating conflict. But what is really happening is that the reasonable spouse is trying to protect themselves and their children from the narcissist who is using the legal system to bully them. Many do not recognize the characteristics of a narcissist, even during the marriage but, introduce divorce into the narcissist’s life and it can become quite evident that this person has a personality disorder. One that keeps them from being able to play fair when they feel backed into a corner.

That is why so few people find themselves emotionally equipped to survive while divorcing a narcissist. The reasonable spouse goes into the divorce process expecting the same level of consideration that they experienced during the marriage to only be met by an adversary who will stop at nothing to “win” what they perceive as a war being waged against them.

It’s difficult to stay emotionally level-headed when what you thought would be a simple process turns into all-out war and all you care about is at stake. The only way to survive while divorcing a narcissist is having the ability to quickly recognize who you are dealing with and the willingness to do battle, roll up your sleaves and go to war.

First Consider the Characteristics of a Narcissist:

  • Has a need for admiration
  • A need to be right
  • A need to be seen as the good guy
  • A need to criticize when you don't meet their need
  • Is charismatic and successful
  • Lacks the ability to feel remorse
  • Has no conscience
  • Has a tremendous need to control you and the situation
  • Has values that are situational; if you believe infidelity is wrong, so do they, even if they don't, their need to impress you motivates them to hold the same beliefs
  • Uses a facade of caring and understanding to manipulate
  • Is emotionally unavailable
  • Nothing is ever their fault
  • Hangs onto resentment
  • Has a grandiose sense of self
  • Feels misunderstood
  • Is not interested in solving marital problems, it is their way or the highway
  • Is envious of other's success

When divorcing a narcissist, Dr. Bansckick says, "he completely dismisses any of your needs or all the years of devotion and mutual companionship that you had built together. Normal people remember the good from the past. It informs a sense of balance and fairness during a divorce (even through a betrayal). You may be getting a divorce, but that doesn't mean that you don't have valuable memories and a life story together. For the narcissist, it is all gone; like it never happened.

You will have to understand this if you are to deal effectively with him. The narcissist can undermine you with your friends, with your children and steal your money, all while looking sincere and generating good will among the community."

How To Protect Yourself When Divorcing The Narcissist

A narcissist finds it hard to accept that his/her influence in your life is over. Whether they file for the divorce or you, the narcissist will attempt to remain in control of his influence over your life. If you have children with this person they will work over-time at attempting to control how child support is spent, how child visitation is handled and every other aspect of the co-parenting relationship.

How much emotional abuse, financial and sometimes domestic abuse the narcissist is able to inflict depends on how you respond to him/her.

If you show the narcissist any sympathy, fear, weakness or confusion the narcissist will feed off of it and continue his/her cycle of abusive behaviour.

Protecting yourself means showing no weakness, not buying into anything the 
narcissist says, researching as much as you can find about narcissism and having an attorney on your side who is willing to pull out all the stops when it comes to protecting your legal rights.

4 Tactics For Dealing With The Narcissist During Divorce:

1. Examine your role in the ongoing conflict. The healthier you are emotionally the more success you will have in dealing with the narcissist. You are giving into the narcissist's attempt to manipulate every time you respond to him/her.

A narcissist is adept at causing confusion. When in an adversarial relationship such as divorce you begin to question whether the problem is with you or the narcissist. That is exactly where the narcissist wants you; confused and questioning yourself.

People often ask me what they can do to change how someone responds to them. If you are attempting to do something that will make a difference in the way he/she behaves STOP. You cannot change the behaviors of others but you can change the way you respond to their behaviour.

Your response to a narcissist should be measured. You should be aware that he/she is trying to push your buttons and wants a negative response from you. The best advice I can give is to realize that the things the narcissist does or says in not about you, it is about them. The narcissist is attempting to make themselves feel better by making you feel shame, fear or guilt.

The narcissist will project his own fears, shame, and guilt off onto you by using the Family Court System to abuse. Not retaliating or challenging them puts the shame, fear, and guilt back onto them.

2. Deal with the reality of the situation. The world of the narcissist is made up of fantasy, nothing is real, all is an expression of their need to be someone they are not. It is imperative you see the narcissist for who he/she really is and not for whom you wish he/she was.
Regardless of how good you want the narcissist to be, the more you work at bringing goodness out, the more the narcissist will exploit your goodness.

The narcissist wants you to doubt your own value. The best defense during divorce against such a person is to appreciate your own self-worth and refuse to buy into their need to dismiss and belittle you and your needs.

3. Be willing to set firm boundaries. The narcissist believes their needs are more important than yours, they believe they are more intelligent than you and find it unacceptable that anyone would disagree with them. For this reason, they lack an understanding of boundaries and respecting the needs of others.

You can't teach or expect the narcissist to ever respect your boundaries. You can, however, refuse to allow the narcissist to cross your boundaries and cause you undue stress during the divorce process. This is done by you controlling what behaviors you will and will not allow.

Don't make the mistake of believing that trying to control the behaviors of the narcissist is the answer to setting boundaries with him/her. Most believe that protecting themselves and setting boundaries means confronting and being assertive. This does not work with the narcissist. The more you confront and assert your position the more you play into their game.

When setting boundaries with the narcissist you need to refuse to communicate unless it can be done in a manner free of conflict, manipulation, and disrespect. You may need to insist that all communication is via email. You can let it be known that you will not respond to any communication that dismisses or belittles you and your needs.

You can expect the narcissist to push back against the boundaries you set. If you want to stop the cycle of abuse and disrespect you must be firm, stand your ground and refuse to allow him/her to push your buttons. Remember, you are trying to separate yourself from the narcissist. As I said, this is a threat to him/her so be on guard for efforts on their part to draw you back into the toxicity of the relationship.

4. Surround yourself with an understanding support system. During the divorce, we all go to family and friends for support and advice. Your situation is unique, though; friends and family will not understand and may even doubt your honesty when you relay what you are dealing with.

It is essential that you hire a divorce attorney who has an understanding of narcissistic personality disorder and how to deal with it during the legal process of divorce. Also, find a therapist who can help you work through the feelings you will have during the divorce and after. A therapist can help you set boundaries and stick with them, a therapist can help you identify your role in the conflict and can help you understand what is and isn't "real." The people you choose to go to for help will play a huge role in how well you navigate divorce from a narcissist.


Friday, 20 March 2020

Life after divorce: How to rebuild your self-esteem and confidence

With divorce often comes a feeling of shame, low confidence and low self worth - as if people who get divorced have done something wrong, or failed somehow. It’s only natural to perhaps feel scared at finding yourself single again. You may feel alone, isolated, and surprised by who has turned their back on you. This is normal. However, it needn’t be this way. Self confidence and self worth have everything to do with having a strong inner core. Often times, outer success can hide a weak core, but without a strong core true happiness is not sustainable long term. The inner core has to do with loving yourself for who you truly are. Here are some spiritual advice to help you remember who you truly are so you can rebuild your self confidence and self worth after your divorce.


  • deepen your inner connection
  • tend to your healing
  • look your best
  • improve communication with your ex
  • push out of your comfort zone


ignore your needs and desires
get triggered by your ex
give up
go into negativity
stay stuck in the past


Do deepen your inner connection

To begin, you want to remember who you truly are, and what you are here to do. When you remember that, you cannot help but truly love yourself. Perhaps you lost yourself in your marriage and defined yourself in terms of being a wife, a mother, or other outward marker. A good way to find yourself again is by establishing some form of meditation or mindfulness practice. This will help you connect to the present moment so you can focus on who really matters - you.

Do tend to your healing

Feelings of anger, sadness, fear, disappointment, jealousy, loneliness and others are all healthy indications that you need to tend to some healing. In the same way we all need to eat, drink and exercise to stay healthy, healing, is something everyone needs. Your divorce has, no doubt, brought up to the surface some powerful emotions that need to be healed at this time. Rather than run away from them, this is a wonderful opportunity to give yourself some love and tend to your healing. Anything you do that fills you up with unconditional love heals you. As soon as you set the intention to receiving the healing you need, you will be amazed by the help you are offered.

Do look your best

Even if you don’t feel very attractive or inspired at the moment, do make an effort to look your best. This means taking care of your grooming as you normally would and making a special effort with the clothes you choose to wear. You may feel like wearing your cosy sweat pants to the supermarket, but putting on some pressed jeans and lipstick will lift your spirits. Your outwards appearance is just as important as your inner well being and both contribute to a healthy, happy you. It’s important to honor the vehicle that holds your spirit just as much as your spirit as both are sacred gifts.

Do improve communication with your ex

Ensure you are both communicating as effectively as possible. This may be challenging depending on where you are in the letting go process. It’s important to honor the process and what you are feeling while remembering that your ex has his own process, and his own feelings as well. Using clear language to express what is going on with you will help make you and your ex more attentive and respectful to each other. The more effectively you communicate, the less likely you will be to fall back into your old pattern, and the easier it will be for you to rebuild the self confidence and self worth you may feel you lost during your divorce.

Do push out of your comfort zone

Here, change is a good thing. There is no point sticking to the routine you had as a married person because it will just keep you stuck in the past and prevent you from moving forward. You don’t need to give up your old routine completely. You want to get rid of what wasn’t nourishing you and hang onto those parts that were. Here you want to make whatever change you need to make so you feel your life is expanding into a new direction. If you are not expanding out, you are contracting in. Whenever growth is dampened, suffering happens on some level. As long as you feel your life is getting bigger and better as a result of your divorce, you will feel happier and your self confidence and self worth will improve.


Do not ignore your needs and desires

As a loyal wife you have perhaps spent years putting the needs of your husband first. If you have children, you have perhaps put the needs of your children ahead of your own as well. That was fine for a time, but now it’s time to reclaim yourself. Who are you? What’s important to you? What are your talents and gifts? How do you want to spend the rest of your life? You have talents and gifts the world has never seen and you have been put on this earth for an important purpose. Nurturing others is no doubt important to you, and the more you can nurture yourself too by paying attention and devoting time to rediscovering you, the more loving you will be.

Do not get triggered by your ex

Keeping a level head with your ex will help keep your self confidence high; losing your temper, showing tears, or clamming up will only reinforce past patterns and will not help your self esteem. Remember here, that under duress some bottle up their emotions while others let them all hang out - neither is sustainable long term. Healthy, happy people know when to share and when to hold back. Finding this balance is an important skill that is not always learned in childhood. Relationships in general and marriage or divorce specifically, provide great opportunities to learn this.

Do not give up

It’s important to just not give up. You will be tested. Though life is perhaps not flowing as you would like, it’s important to remember that you can handle it. The challenges will make you stronger, but they are setting the template for your new life. It took years to build a life with a partner, now it may take some time to rebuild a life on your own as a single woman. This is where it’s important to surrender into the unknown.

Do not go into negativity

It’s easy to get trapped in negativity, after all your divorce and the last days of your marriage were no doubt filled with negativity. Here it’s important to change that pattern. Let go of all toxicity - this means let go of negative thoughts, words and actions. You can do this by cutting out all negativity from your life or by transforming negativity into positivity. This applies to your friends, your job, your family, as well as your ex and your marriage. Like attracts like so the more you spiral into darkness, the harder it will be to get out and the less self confidence and self worth you will have. You may need to fake it a little at the beginning, but you will soon see how easy it is to be positive. The more positive you are on the outside, the more positive you will soon feel on the inside as well.

Do not stay stuck in the past

Here it’s important to really accept and let go. It’s the only way to move on and create a new life. When you keep a foot in one life and another in a new life, you are not fully anchored into the present. The more you can accept what has happened, the easier it will be to let go and then to create a new life which is more aligned with the deeper truth of who you are and the deeper truth of the life you are now ready for.


As long as your inner core is not strong, your divorce will affect your sense of self confidence and self worth. Making that core strong will pave the way to the next chapter of your life as a single, which will then set the foundation for the rest of your life. The stronger that inner core, the more resilience you will have to navigate any future challenge or crisis that comes your way. Hopefully this advice has offered insight to help you rebuild your self confidence and self worth after your divorce so you can bring in more of the love that you are, and remember the love that you have always been.


Thursday, 19 March 2020

How To Be In A Relationship After Divorce Broke Your Heart

You’ve worked hard to get over your divorce. Don’t let it get in the way of your future happiness.

Living through the tumultuous end of your marriage is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. And the repercussions of it echo through your life in often surprising ways – and sometimes for a long time after your divorce is a done deal.

One of the most common ways to experience the fallout of divorce long after it’s final is in your new relationships.

So, when you meet someone you really like, it’s natural to wonder how to be in a relationship with them or if you even want to be in a relationship again.

This pause to question whether you want another relationship usually driven by fear. When your heart has been broken by divorce, it’s very difficult to believe that you could ever have a good relationship.

Your struggle with how to be in a relationship again could quite simply be a fear of the past repeating itself. But here’s the thing, the ONLY way this fear is real is if these two things are true:

  1. You’re exactly the same person you were.
  2. Your new love interest is just like your ex.

Now, if you’ve done your work – really done your work – to heal from your divorce, one of the things you now understand is your part in the failure of your marriage.

And because you’re smart and determined, you’ve taken the steps necessary to make sure you no longer behave in that way and you know how to spot it quickly when you do. This alone guarantees that you’re NOT exactly the same person you were.

Another benefit of doing your work to get over your divorce is that there’s very little chance you’re attracted to the same type of person you divorced. (Remember that the person you divorced is seldom the person you thought you married.)

So, if you’ve done all the hard work to heal, your fear of not being able to have a good relationship isn’t based on facts. It’s just a fear of the past that’s holding you back from exploring your new life – the life you’ve been working so hard on making great.

Now when you really take a step back to look at it, it’s your ex and the memory of your marriage that’s keeping you from exploring the connection you have with your new love interest. And you sure don’t want your ex controlling your future!

Another reality is that the connection you have doesn’t guarantee that a relationship with this new person will work out or that you should enter it without caution. It just means that you’re attracted enough to want to explore how to be in a relationship with them.

Taking a chance to learn how to be in a relationship again with someone you genuinely care about can be extremely fun – especially after all the effort you’ve put into moving on with your life. And if this new relationship has the potential to contribute to your happiness, you deserve to explore it without fear.

So silence the echoes of your divorce and don’t let them get in the way of your pursuit of happiness.


Wednesday, 18 March 2020

What My Parents' Divorce Taught Me About Money

You don’t generally associate “divorce” with “excellent personal finance education.”
Most children of divorced parents might argue that divorce is a terrible, emotionally unpleasant time—particularly where money is concerned.

While I agree that it can be a miserable time, emotionally and financially, I also credit my parents’ divorce with some of the most important financial lessons of my life, and for making me the financially responsible adult I am today.

The Divorce

I come from a relatively wealthy background—I grew up in a safe, affluent suburb of New York City, where I was raised by two parents with advanced degrees, and went to excellent schools with kids in similar situations. For much of my life, I didn’t have to really worry about shopping for school supplies or getting the clothes I wanted or having money to go to the movies or other incidentals. It was all given to me, just like it was given to my friends.

And then, at the age of 15, my parents got divorced. It was a messy, unpleasant period in our lives, and not worth recounting here (who wants to hear about another suburban kid whose parents fought and eventually separated?).

But as unpleasant as the experience was, I consider it one of the best things that could have happened to me—financially. While my friends were going about their youth unconcerned with material worries, suddenly I had to learn relatively quickly what it meant to have a handle on your money —and your life.

Here are the three key lessons I learned as a result.

Lesson #1: Financial Independence is Everything

Around the time I was 15, my mother made a discovery: My father had been slowly draining our family’s savings, retirement, and checking accounts. By the time my mother realized what was happening, the money was gone. My mom had thought his yearly bonuses would be going toward college for me and my sister, but not only was my dad a big spender, unbeknownst to her, he had also been buying regular tickets to visit his girlfriend in Greece. The money went fast.

Here, I witnessed firsthand one of the most important financial lessons of my life: It is essential as a woman (and for anyone in a relationship, although women are particularly vulnerable) to know where your money is, and to keep an eye on your household finances . You should never rely on someone else to manage everything for you.

Does this mean, now that I’m grown and married myself, that I regard my husband with perpetual skepticism, always under the assumption that he’s about to take the money and run? Not at all. But we both keep an eye on our joint accounts (which makes good sense for a number of reasons, including monitoring identity and credit card theft), and we both discuss how our money is being saved and spent . I also know I will always stay in the workforce, even if and when we have children.

My mother, who had a PhD and a JD, decided to stay home with my sister and me when we were young, then found a job in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, which eventually turned into a position as a full-time prosecutor after the divorce. As I watched her realize how difficult it would be to re-enter the workforce, I realized how important it is for women to be able to support themselves financially, regardless of circumstance. Divorce aside, in case of any kind of tragedy (death, unemployment), I want to be able to rely on myself for income.

Lesson #2: Needs Are Expensive

After the divorce, my mother was adamant that we stay in our house and school district. Her desire to make sure we weren’t totally uprooted from our lives, regardless of finances, meant that I soon had to rely on myself for all of those financial incidentals I had always received from my parents.

While my mother was concerned with getting food on the table and paying for medical care (we didn’t have health insurance—we had been on my dad’s plan and he changed jobs, and my mom was looking for work—and I ended up forgoing dentist’s visits for five years), I soon learned what all of those teenage “needs” cost, and how to budget for them.

From gas for my old Honda (a hand-me-down from my grandmother), to movie tickets for nights out with friends, I learned how much money I would need and what I could go without. I picked up more babysitting shifts than I ever had before, took summer jobs at the local Barnes & Noble and as a tutor, and managed (and saved) my own money.

There were days when I hated everything about our situation. One winter day, a pipe burst in our basement, and my mother had no idea what to do, so I called my father and figured out how to fix it. I remember thinking it was ridiculous, but it really taught me how to take control of a situation when I need to. I can fix things around the house; I’m proactive in making things happen; I’m never, ever late on a bill. It wasn’t fun, but it was certainly character-building.

Now, I don’t mind making a dollar stretch (cereal for dinner is a frequent guilty pleasure), and I know how to budget realistically . I also realized that I became more independent than many of my peers at an early age. In college, I used my own money to buy clothes or take trips, while many friends were still fully supported by their parents. Resisting spending on non-essentials early on definitely helped shape my habits as an adult.

Lesson #3: College Isn’t a Given

Even more importantly, what seemed like a tragedy—losing my college savings account—ensured that I knew the value of a college education, and taught me how to find scholarship money and financial aid. My guidance counselor worked with me to find schools that had great financial aid and vouchers so we didn’t have to pay for the SAT or ACT.

I’d always been smart, and a good student, but I definitely kicked myself into high gear after my parents’ divorce.

I’m not sure how much of that was the hyper-competitive academic environment my high school fostered, and how much was the knowledge that I’d have to do very, very well to get into the kinds of schools that would provide excellent financial aid. Either way, I started figuring out that if I wanted something, I would have to go after it, whether that was an after-school job or leadership positions at my school . I stopped being afraid to ask for what I wanted.

I ended up going to Wellesley College, which has great financial aid. During those four years, I was able to go abroad to London, intern in Washington, D.C. one summer, and intern another summer at a literary agency with a $3,000 stipend. That summer at the literary agency, I gave myself $5 for a “fun budget” every week and put any remaining money into a savings account.

Between my jobs during the school year (tutoring, babysitting, and working on campus), a few graduation gifts, and the remainders of my stipends, I graduated with $12,000 of savings—which I used to fully pay off my relatively small college debt . Now, I’m extremely proud to say I’ve saved another $10,000 in an emergency fund. (The secret to this? No fun, ever. I don’t recommend it.)

My family is in a much better place, financially and emotionally, than we were during those years during and after the divorce, and I wouldn’t wish that kind of steep financial learning curve on other teenagers.

But while divorce can seem like the worst thing to happen to a family, what we went through turned me into a more responsible adult than I might otherwise have been, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.


Tuesday, 17 March 2020

What Smart Women Do After Divorce

Why do some women do well after divorce, while others get stuck?” a divorcing client asked me, confronting her worries head on. “I want to be happy again. I want to rely on myself and not be afraid of the future. I can’t make it without his support, but it’s tough being tied together for so many years through the kids and the money.”

Indeed, financial entanglement is a double-edged sword. Moving on is much harder for women (and men) who remain connected via a custody share, child support or alimony. How do you get closure when the contact and financial dependency continue? What’s the key to regaining your independence and confidence?

My answer is something most people already know, but nonetheless is the greatest challenge of divorce: You commit to being happy or commit to being right. The smartest women I know choose happiness, and this has been the key to rebuilding their life. I’ve observed five actions and attitudes these women adopted that made the difference in their recovery process. It’s never too late to start.

#1: No More “Woe Is Me” (ideally after the first year)

Smart women make that mental shift from victim to survivor, and they take the necessary steps to get there fully.

By far the most important (and most difficult) step is to impose a statute of limitations on feeling sorry for yourself, even if the conflict is ongoing. The first year, it’s normal to dwell on the loss, to cry, grieve, vent to your family and friends about every last detail. But after that, even though you’re still raw, it’s important you make a deliberate mind shift from seeing yourself as a victim. Regardless of what your husband did or is still doing, you don’t want to make the pain of your divorce your identity and your calling card.

Your negative feelings won’t disappear miraculously, and of course this isn’t a one-time mind shift. Sadness and despair roll in when you least expect it. You’re not unusual (nor should you be embarrassed) if you need antidepressants for some period of time to get unstuck. 
Many women also find it beneficial to examine their feelings in a therapeutic setting, such as private therapy, a divorce support group, or counseling services from their church/synagogue.

Friends can be a great resource, but don’t use them only as a sounding board for self-pity. If you’re hanging around a friend — divorced or otherwise — who spends her time man-bashing and telling you how you’ve been screwed, that friendship is keeping you stuck. 
Spend time (and connect online) with women who are upbeat and can be role models for moving forward with strength and optimism. Two blogs I like, created by women who did something constructive to deal with their divorce, are Chick Chain Walking Club and One Mom’s Battle.

One client summed up her recovery process: “I developed the strength and discipline to give my victim feelings a shelf life ... I’d say to myself, ‘I get tonight to feel sad and then tomorrow it’s back to business.’”

An added benefit of taking this step is you’ll be a role model for your children, especially a daughter, about how to recover from a life crisis.

#2: Accept the Economic Reality of Divorce

The smartest women come to terms with the reduced lifestyle they have after divorce. They reaffirm their priorities or commit to changing their lifestyle. They do not rely on their ex-husband as their long-term financial solution, nor do they see “finding another man” as the solution.

Unless you’re wealthy or a movie star, your economic level will decrease as a result of divorce. The same income that used to run one household is now running two. Women often don’t get paid the same as men for comparable work, and women’s careers are impacted by choosing to raise children — but these are facts, but not obstacles to happiness. Smart women deal with these realities in one of two ways:

  • They accept this reduction in lifestyle. Their joy comes from other things, like their children and the opportunity to be an involved parent or appreciation of their job and the flexibility it affords them even if it doesn’t pay as well as a high-paying career.
  • If/when the timing is right, they make the decision to increase their earnings through their own means, such as a better job, increased hours, or additional education and training.
Either of these choices leads to greater peace and self-confidence.

#3: Develop a 10-Year Financial Plan

Smart women take charge of their finances during and after divorce. They hire a financial planner or an accountant to review and organize their finances and map out spending and goals for the next decade. Although daunting at first, this step is immensely empowering.

Divorce may be the first time you’ve managed the family finances and planned for the future. Although it feels overwhelming, don’t stick your head in the sand with the naive hope that you’ll be able to make it forever on what you’re getting in support and assets (or that you’ll meet someone who will take care of you).

First, educate yourself about financial planning through a book, seminar, or online resource. Second, find an expert (an accountant or financial planner) with whom you can review your finances and spending. (I strongly suggest you choose an expert who charges by the hour instead of on a commission basis.)

Looking at the economic reality is a wake-up call for most women. One client said after her meeting, “I quickly saw that I need to be much more thoughtful about how I use my assets and how I spend what I am getting in support. I’m now focused on my short-term goals — reducing my spending and finding ways to supplement my income — and my long-term goals of getting the kids through college and saving enough to have a dignified life in later years. I feel more in charge of my future and less anxious as a result.”

# 4: Repeat After Me: “I Cannot Change My Ex”

Smart women recognize they can’t change their ex-husband. They pick their battles, they let go of issues that don’t really matter or can’t be changed, and they accept with grace and maturity the general unpleasantness of an ongoing custody share — knowing this is just the reality of divorce.

It’s normal to want to have a say in how your ex behaves — particularly related to the kids. But save yourself the struggle. In a strange way, this step is about taking control of your inner life by letting go of outside control.

Sharing custody involves a lot of frustrations. The most common ones I hear from women are: he cancels or is late; he feeds the kids junk food; there are no limits at his house on TV, video games or computer; he buys them toys/electronics you said no to, instead of buying the shoes and school clothes they need; he gripes about expenditures for the kids’ extracurricular; he lets them stay up past their bedtime; he doesn’t return their clothing or returns everything dirty; he doesn’t make the kids do chores, so they complain when you enforce this rule at your house; he has joint custody but you still have to take the lead on doctor and dentist appointments, school, homework, extracurricular activities and sports.

Is this behavior fair or considerate? No. Is it worth getting upset over? No. Unless he is abusing the kids or repeatedly not showing up, you can’t generally control these kinds of actions. It’s a costly endeavor to try.

I’m not saying smart women allow themselves to be doormats — they definitely don’t. Sometimes you have to put on the business hat and confront an issue with your ex. Sometimes legal action is required. Be sure the issue warrants it and has a good probability of resulting in change. And work to let go of the rest.

#5: Focus on the Future, Commit to Growth and Introspection, And
Build a Relationship with Yourself

Smart women channel their energies post-divorce into examining their life, their goals, their mistakes and how they can learn from the past. Instead of jumping into another serious relationship (or spending their time complaining about their ex), they focus on their own life issues. They redefine their priorities and discover what’s meaningful to them. They mature fully into themselves as women whose identity is not tied to the role of mother or wife.

We’ve seen this or been there ourselves — how men and women “lose themselves” in marriage. For many women, their identity becomes tied to their husband or children early on, and so when the marriage ends and these roles are lost or diminished, the woman feels unsure of who she is. This is one reason divorce can be a real moment of crisis.

The smartest women I’ve observed use their divorce as an opportunity for growth and maturity. They take inventory of their life, mistakes and all, and devote time and energy to discovering who they are and what they want for their future. This process takes time, patience and dedication, but in the end, these women are able to put their divorce behind them. They go on to be centered, stable, self-assured, capable women who find the happiness they felt they had lost. In fact, when I asked these women if they could turn back the clock and stay married, the answer was overwhelmingly a heartfelt “no” — they would never go back, even with all of the known challenges.

What would be on your list for recovery?


Friday, 13 March 2020

How to Forgive Yourself after Divorce

Divorce guilt comes in all sorts of mutating forms. It is normal for many of us to feel like we are somehow to blame for the divorce.

Culturally, we are taught that keeping the household and marriage successful was our responsibility, without so much a thought that it takes two people in a partnership. And naturally, because there was a lot of pressure on us to be perfect, when the marriage unraveled, our reaction was to blame ourselves for it.

It is time to knock it off. In order to overcome guilt, you must forgive yourself.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It’s a gift that we are usually generous in giving others, yet for some reason, we don’t give ourselves the same luxury. For some reason we think our actions, especially divorce-related ones, are somehow reprehensible and we feel like the worst people in the world for letting everybody down.

Accepting responsibility and working to avoid mistakes in the future is one thing. But constantly blaming yourself for things in the past is neither helpful nor healthy. So why not put that energy you spend on feeling bad about the past into something better, like creating the good life you deserve?

Forgiving yourself is challenging right now because you are looking at the divorce with warped vision. Right now, you are looking at it with 20/20 hindsight, where you have the luxury of picking your past self to pieces. And that’s just not fair.

Sure, you have made mistakes in the past. But who hasn’t? Remember that it takes two to tango in a marriage. You must accept that you did everything within your power at the time to make the marriage work. And even if you, for some reason, have still convinced yourself that you didn’t, the past cannot be changed anyway.

When a wave of guilt hits you, remember that guilt is a gray, looming fortress (like the Tower of London) where you feel trapped. Here is the crazy part, though: all the doors are unlocked, there are no guards, and there’s no reason for you to stay there. So why not leave?

The next time you are feeling guilty and are unsure of how to forgive yourself, ask yourself this one question: “How will this guilt serve me in the future?” If you are coming up with a blank, that’s the point. Guilt does not serve you, so you must forgive yourself and let go.

Guilt speaks the language of “maybe, should have, would have.” These are not action words. They are passive words that your guilt is using to make you create a false past reality that doesn’t exist. The next time you find yourself with those thoughts, nip it in the bud with compassion for yourself. Take a look at the following example.

Guilt thought: I feel guilty because maybe I should have suggested we go to couples therapy sooner.
The forgiveness mindset: We went to couples therapy when we thought we needed it, and did everything in our power at the time to fix it. You were brave to try it, and should not feel bad about any of that.

Guilt thought: I feel guilty because maybe I should have brought up the fact that we weren’t communicating anymore.
The forgiveness mindset: It takes two people for a marriage to work and you were not responsible for both of you. You did what you could with the strength you had at the time. Be proud of yourself for that.

Now it’s your turn. Write down the specific things that are making you feel guilty, then neutralize them with the compassion you deserve. Do this whenever the guilt sneaks up on you. As long as you are mindful and consistent with this practice, you can keep the guilt monster at bay.

The road to forgiving yourself and overcoming divorce guilt can be a long one, but showing yourself much-deserved compassion will ease that journey.