Congratulations on Your Divorce: The Road to Finding Your Happily Ever After

Congratulations on Your Divorce: The Road to Finding Your Happily Ever After

by Amy Botwinick

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Overview

Congratulations on Your Divorce: The Road to Finding Your Happily Ever After by Amy Botwinick

Prince Charming has turned into a toad or run off with Sleeping Beauty. . . . Now what?

Optimistic, chatty and accessible, Congratulations on Your Divorce guides you through the treacherous paths of divorce and into a life of renewed joy. It describes the world of divorce—warts and all—with some much-needed comic relief and heart. You’ll realize you’re not alone as you read about how the author and other women have coped with the emotional craziness of un-coupling, jettisoned their emotional baggage and gotten back on the road to defining and finding their happily ever after.

In a girlfriend-to-girlfriend conversational tone, Congratulations on Your Divorce explores all facets of divorce: from making the decision, to surviving the legal battles and getting on with life. Through the author's own experiences and those of other women, Congratulations on Your Divorce prepares you for the road ahead: how to get through the business of divorce with humor and aplomb, how to get beyond the bitterness and on to a healthy, happy life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780757303227
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/01/2005
Pages: 255
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.58(d)

About the Author

Amy Botwinick is a divorced, single mother of two young boys. She makes her home in Boca Raton, FL, where she is currently enjoying her "happily ever after."

Read an Excerpt

Part One

The Journey

(jer ne) n. the act of going from one place to another

Chapter
1Reality Check

Prince Charming has either turned into a toad or run off with Sleeping Beauty; now what?!

'Now what?' turns out to be the ultimate question when a woman starts to look at divorce head-on. As I fumbled my way through the process I felt desperate and uncertain before, during and after the divorce. I was charting unknown territory at a time when I was barely functioning as a result of my 'divorce hangover.' I just wanted to close my eyes and have somebody else deal with the whole mess and wake me up when it was over. Every morning I would force myself out of bed and wonder how this became my life and how I was going to make it through another day. I'm sure these feelings are all too familiar.

Regardless of where you are in your process, this book will help you get a grip. Facing yourself and the reality of your situation can be overwhelming and paralyzing. This book will give you tools to be productive and more objective in your decisions by minimizing some of the 'trauma drama' that naturally accompanies divorce. This will give you clarity to break down the process and the courage to do what has to be done to get yourself back on track.

A divorce can seem like a life-consuming event. It can bring out a wide range of emotions, beliefs and controversy in yourself and your circle of friends and family. The good news is that this will eventually be just a blip on your radar screen. The uncomfortable situation you are in will change, and life is waiting for you to choose your path. Every woman has her own perspective and unique set of circumstances that will determine the choices she makes along her journey.

When my divorce became public knowledge, I was bombarded with inappropriate questions from many female acquaintances. While I was put off by their intrusiveness, I realized some of them were in 'desperate housewife mode' and needed help and someone to talk to. Others were just rudely curious to see if my grass was actually greener on the other side as they contemplated and compared their own happiness.

A Good Look in the Mirror

Before moving on with what you need to know about divorce, the next few pages will ask you to look before you leap if you find yourself wanting out of your marriage. Because you may be the initiator of the divorce, I urge you to explore this part of the book with honesty. Choosing to divorce might ultimately be your decision, but it should be one made in a state of calm with little doubt and few regrets.

When someone approaches me and says he or she wants a divorce, my first reaction is to ask, 'Are you sure?' Decisions made in haste can take on lives of their own, and before you know it, there may be no turning back to save your marriage. Deep down we all know when we are at peace with the decisions we've made—big and small. Sometimes we listen to our gut, and sometimes we don't. When we make decisions and take action while our doubt mechanism is in full gear, we know we will eventually pay for it. To avoid this scenario, respect the little voice inside you if it says 'wait.' Your gut instinct is asking you to reevaluate the situation before making your decision. Before making this significant change in your life, take a good look at yourself and your concept of marriage.

When you're looking at the choice to divorce, forget all about the idea of the romantic fairy tale. It's time to take a good look at marriage and understand what it really takes to make this type of partnership work. Depending on how realistic and honest you are when evaluating your situation, when it comes to a divorce, you may find that the grass is not always greener on the other side. For a good dose of reality, sit down and write out a pro and con list of staying married versus the realities of divorce and being single.

Consider the following: children, your career status and ability to make money, finances, lifestyle changes, cost of divorce, being single again, and the threat of sexually transmitted diseases once you're back on the dating circuit. (You may be thinking, 'I never want to date again,' but trust me, you will.)

Consider the following:

• Have you gone to marriage counseling?

• -Have you and your spouse taken the time to talk and isolate the real problems of the marriage?

• -Do you really listen to each other or just nag, complain and tune out?

• -How well do you compromise and try to find time for enjoying quality time together?

• How productive or destructive are your methods of fighting?

• Do you kiss and make up without holding grudges?

• Are you teammates working toward the same goals?

• Are you both willing to work on your issues together?

Writing out the answers to these questions will help guide you in making an educated, rational decision. Divorce is difficult, but it might be your best option and worth the temporary discomfort of transitioning into a new life. The process of honest evaluation will help you experience more peace and have fewer doubts regardless of your decision.

'Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
who's the most honest one of all?'

Part of your reality check of marriage starts with taking a good honest look at yourself. Do a self-audit of who you are and how you have changed since you have been married. Everyone has the right to enjoy their own pity party, but eventually it's time to get a grip and move on. Be the adult by putting an end to the blame game and take responsibility for your own issues and contributions to the deterioration of the relationship. Ask yourself the following questions:

• How is my self-esteem?

• What kind of life do I have outside of my family?

• -Do I play the martyr role and take care of everyone while putting my own needs and wants on the bottom of the list?

• -How would my husband describe how I have changed from the person I was before we married?

• Do I still know how to have fun?

Maria—42 years old

On my forty-second birthday I found out that my husband was having an affair with another woman; happy birthday to me. It was as though he wanted to get caught. I had always paid the bills, and he knew that I scrutinized the credit card statements every month. I noticed that in the billing cycle right before my birthday, there were quite a few purchases made at a woman's boutique. The day of my birthday I anxiously awaited my new gifts, only to be presented with a small bouquet of flowers.

The next day I asked him about his purchases. Just like that, he came clean about his affair. He even seemed relieved that his secret was out in the open. I felt like he vomited all over me and left me standing there in the mess.

Humiliated, angry and in shock, I locked myself in my bedroom and refused to talk to him. After two days I emerged from my cave and prepared for battle. I found a good attorney and pulled myself together to deal with my new reality with my husband. When I asked him why he did this to us, his response left me dazed and confused, he told me he missed me and wanted to get my attention.

I became outraged and called him every curse word I felt was appropriate. I told him he was ridiculous; we lived under the same roof, had our meals together and slept in the same bed. He said that was exactly his point. In his mind, we were nothing more than roommates. Our sex life had become routine and almost nonexistent. I stopped being his 'Energizer bunny' and never seemed to have any fun time left over for him. I thought, 'Yeah, that's right, I'm exhausted because I'm raising our kids and doing your laundry.' It was so hard to hear, I started scanning the room for the heaviest object I could hurl at him; I wanted to inflict some serious pain. Somehow I controlled my urge, but I had to torture myself just a little more: I asked him if he loved her. He laughed as he shook his head no and told me that he loved me.

The conversation didn't make sense. I felt like I must be living on a different planet. He cheated on me, but he did it because he loves me; then he tells me he wants to go for counseling to save our marriage. My head was spinning, but my pride got the best of me so I continued on course with my new attorney. It wasn't until my mother told me to slow things down that I considered trying to work it out and agreed to go to therapy. After a few sessions together, the therapist wanted me to start therapy with her on my own. Now I thought she was nuts, he's the cheater and he's the one that needs help, not me. I'm the innocent victim.

A few weeks into our sessions after talking about my past, I started realizing just how lost, angry and out of touch I was. I married young, and within that first year I became pregnant with twins. My career as a reporter became a distant memory as the demands of raising two newborns became more than a full-time job. The years passed quickly and I settled nicely into mommyhood; my main focus was taking care of my family. It was a labor of love, but there were times I felt resentful that I never seemed to have enough time for myself. Over the years I guess I got used to the self-sacrifice, but looking back I think I lost myself.

An old friend from college came to see us for the twins' tenth birthday party. I had not seen her for several years and was anxious for her arrival. When we were alone she asked me how I was doing. I laughed, and then I suddenly started crying as I told her I didn't have time to think about it. She pressed the issue and told me that she didn't recognize the person I had become. She said I seemed sad, quiet, overwhelmed by my kids and disinterested in my husband. She missed the rebellious, outspoken, confident girl she used to know.

Who asked her anyway? It was all too much for me at the time, and I was happy when she went home. Life went on, but occasionally when I thought about her words, they cut me like a knife. I told myself that her single status gave her no right to lecture me about family matters. Looking back, I wish my defensive attitude would not have overpowered the wake-up call she was trying to give me.

Years passed, and my children were grown up and out of the house with their own lives. Suddenly, I was alone with my husband again, and it felt like we were strangers. Our marriage survived through the years but we seemed to have lost our spark. I decided that this was the natural evolution of marriage after raising children and did not give it much thought. He had his life and suddenly I had none—my life's work of raising children had come to a screeching halt.

Through my therapy, I realized I had slipped into a gradual, slow depression. I felt useless and lonely, and turned to daytime television for distraction and entertainment. I would sit and wonder how I became this boring couch potato. My husband would gently remind me that I had a college degree and that I used to have a career and a zest for life. He was supportive but annoyed at my lack of initiative toward him or toward making changes to improve my situation. I knew he was right, but my depression made me apathetic, and the years just passed. Suddenly, here I was, struggling with my husband's infidelity.

We're still married because therapy saved our relationship and helped me find myself again. My husband and I had to explode in order to come back together again. We seemed to become stronger in the broken places but it was difficult, and it came at a price that almost ended our marriage. We both made the choice to own up to our contributions to our issues, and we try to avoid the blame game. I don't excuse him for his actions, but I understood why it happened and I forgave him—but honestly it's difficult to forget. In the end we love each other and are committed to making it work. I started working part time again and feel like I am waking up to life again. I can feel the old Maria coming back.

Lessons Learned

• -A partner who is having an affair is displaying symptoms of a bigger problem. It's very difficult for a marriage to survive the aftershocks of infidelity but it's possible and worth trying if both of you are committed and love each other.

• -It's important not to lose yourself when you get married. Saying 'I do' doesn't mean 'I promise to take care of you and our children at the cost of who I am.' Nobody likes a martyr, and it's a bad example to set for children.

• -Remember that saying, 'When a couple gets married, the woman wants to change the man but the man wants the woman to stay exactly the same.'

• -You should never stop growing as a person. If you get stuck from depression, don't let too much time go by before getting the help you need.

If, after some soul searching, you find reasons to work more on the marriage, I wish you the very best of luck. If you are in the middle of the business of divorcing, it might not be too late; many marriages are saved on the steps of the courthouse.

Biting the Bullet

I have earned my right to divorce.

I believe in marriage and the wonderful things that can come from a harmonious union. I worked hard to save my own before choosing to divorce and end a relationship that was beyond repair between two incompatible people. It was a decision I had agonized over for many difficult years. I felt like we had exhausted every possibility to make it work, and it was just time for the misery to be over for both of us.

I spoke to many women who made the decision to initiate divorce and asked them what the defining moment was that made them realize they needed to get out. Most women said it wasn't after a horrible fight or incident. They said it was a quiet moment of reflection or a simple interaction with their spouse that gave them the clarity they needed to see their big picture.

Alexis—36 years old

My defining moment came one day in an ice-cream parlor as I sat alone feeling empty inside, staring into my melting cup of butter pecan. I had just finished a two-hour conversation with my spouse, who told me he wanted to work on our marriage. This was quite a shock because he had threatened divorce several times and completely ignored me for months. He even refused to acknowledge our ten-year anniversary.

Our marriage had been a repetitive circle—a dance of words and actions that didn't match up. I wanted to be more than just sex and a showpiece on his arm. We looked great to the outside world, but on the inside our marriage was like a hollow shell. The slightest sign of attention or minimum effort would keep me hanging on, hoping he would take a real interest in me and our marriage. He always promised things would change when we were in crisis mode, and he knew I was at the end of my rope. Once things had calmed down between us, his efforts were short- lived and the neglect would start again.

While I had my doubts, our latest conversation was different because I had finally stopped trying and it scared him. He actually said he would 'jump through hoops' to win back my love and affection, and he apologized for treating me so poorly. I was almost convinced we might have a chance as I tried to forget how many times we had been through this. I decided to forget the past and live in the present. I told him I needed his friendship and some quality time alone as a couple and those things were non-negotiable. He assured me he wanted the same thing, and I was hopeful. Rather than believing this was just another attempt to keep things status quo so his life wouldn't be disrupted, I bought into the fact that he really wanted me this time.

Feeling drained and excited after talking for the last two hours, I cheerfully suggested we walk down the block to get some ice cream together. He looked at me and said he wasn't hungry. I smiled and asked if he would just come and keep me company. He looked at me as if somebody caused him physical pain as he reluctantly agreed.

Bam! That was it for me. Whether he couldn't or wouldn't didn't matter anymore. This man didn't deliver even the simplest request like taking his wife for ice cream just to hang out together. I told him it was okay to go home and he was relieved. The funny thing was, I was relieved too because I no longer wanted to be with somebody who didn't want to be with me. I was also sad and angry because I realized I was with a guy way too long who couldn't give me some very basic things a married relationship needs to survive. I knew at that moment I finally had to leave, and that I would never eat butter pecan ice cream again.

It's funny, I felt that universal sentiment that women describe when they know a relationship is over. After putting my blood, sweat and tears into the marriage and not getting back what I needed, my well of giving finally dried up. I finally realized that there was nothing he could do to turn my heart back or change my mind. I wanted out of the marriage. It was time to end the misery. When it was crystal clear that divorce was my next step, I felt the weight on my shoulders disappear and a feeling of peace wash over me. While both options—staying married or choosing to divorce—made me uneasy, I knew which choice gave me more hope. The thought of staying in a semi-comfortable, familiar situation suddenly became intolerable as I thought of growing old in a marriage that would just get worse over time. I was finally ready to give myself a chance at happiness. I felt strong enough to face the unknown and the challenges of divorce. I had worked to try to save the marriage, and now it was time to save me.

Lessons Learned

• -People tell you exactly what you need to know. Listen to their words but more importantly, watch their actions (show me, don't tell me).

• -There are basic things that make a relationship work. You won't get everything you want, but you should get what is deep down important to you and not have to compromise on the things you need in a partner.

• -Don't be with someone who doesn't want to be with you.

• Neglect is a form of abuse.

When There Is No Choice

Maybe getting divorced is the last thing you wanted and expected—your partner's the one who's leaving the marriage. This scenario presents a challenge to get it together and prepare for the next step as you try to deal with your crushed ego and self-esteem.

While you had no control in the decision to divorce, you do have control over how you choose to handle the situation. It's a process, and the emotional pain is a necessary experience in order to move on and start the healing process; but be careful not to let it rule your life.

Take time to grieve the loss, and then make the choice to move on. Accepting that 'it is what it is' may sound simplistic, but it can be powerful. Focus on the things you can control, and work to change your perspective from the negative to the positive. It will be as easy or difficult as you make it. Redirect your energy to the process called 'divorce.' It is an experience that you need to go through to create a new life and find your happiness. The best revenge comes when you eventually let go of your anger and allow happiness to blossom.

Eileen—43 years old

I was married for over twenty years, during which time we had three children who are now preteens and teenagers. Our marriage had its share of problems, but nothing I ever felt was serious enough to jeopardize our relationship. I was shocked when my husband told me he was leaving the kids and me to move in with his girlfriend. He said he was bored with our marriage and wanted to experience new adventures and people in his life. As he uttered these words, I actually dropped to my knees. I felt like he had physically punched me in the gut.

I started to recover from the shock of having my world turned upside down when I opened my eyes to the harsh reality that my soon-to-be ex was going to do everything in his power to pay our children and me as little support as possible. The lawyer's fees were outrageous, so we settled out of court for something that would give me a few months to get on my feet after working parttime as a nurse. In a six-month period, I went from a married and oblivious stay-at-home mom to a divorced single mom who had to go out and make a living to support her reconfigured family.

It's been five years now, and I have made a full financial and emotional recovery into a completely different life. Much to my surprise, despite all the financial and emotional challenges, I am happier now than I ever was in my married life. Looking back I think the hardest part for me was the complete loss of control and power I had in the situation. I was losing my husband and the trappings of our life together, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was angry at my ex and the complete stranger who stole him from me.

One day I woke up and the rage and self-pity I had been mari­nating in had finally dried up, and I felt a sense of peace. I ­realized I had a new life waiting for me to enjoy with my healthy children, and I was ready to stop wasting time. The surprise was that not only did I survive but I actually thrived through the experience and so did my children. I had never realized that I was unhappy in my marriage because at the time I never knew what it felt like to be truly happy. When my husband left me, it was devastating, but as time moved on, it turned out to be a ­blessing in disguise.

Lessons Learned

• -You don't know how strong you can be until you are tested and have to rise to the occasion. Being pushed to your limits can bring out the best in who you are. Sometimes you just have to click into survival mode and do what has to be done.

• -Taking charge of your life after something unexpectedly turns your world upside down can create a great sense of self-reliance and happiness.

• -When something bad happens that you have no control over, your attitude and actions will determine the path of your life. You have a choice in how you will handle the inevitable bumps in the road, big and small.

Abuse

Abusive marriages are dangerous and present a whole different set of circumstances. Physical abuse is dangerous and visible. Verbal and emotional abuse is not as visible but can be even more dangerous in the long term. On average, an abused woman leaves seven to ten times before permanently leaving a dangerous relationship. Many women who feel emotionally and financially trapped go back to their abuser because they don't have a support system to help them out of their situ­ation. The good news is that you can get help by tapping into the resources your community offers. There are many organizations that will help abused women. They can provide safety for victims, including children, who are the most undeserving victims. Many organizations have programs that teach women how to be financially and emotionally self-sufficient so they can start a new life on their own terms.

Your local phone book should have a number for the toll-free crisis information hotline, which will give you information about places in your area that can provide shelter, food and counseling. Communities offer immediate emergency shelter and can also help you take the next step. For instance, if drugs are a problem, there are rehab programs that provide counseling to help get you clean and sober. Many programs are designed to help get you on the road toward your independence by guiding you on your career and finances and improving your self-esteem. While each state and community is different, help is out there. Picking up the phone can ultimately change your life for the better.

Counseling services may be offered at no charge or on a sliding fee schedule depending on your financial situation. Trained professionals can help you understand how the vicious cycle of abuse works, which will help you look at your situation with open eyes. Knowledge is power. It will help improve your confidence and self-esteem which will in turn enable you to protect your children and make your life work. Taking these first few steps will help you find the courage to stop compounding the damage that results from returning to your abuser.

No woman is immune from the possibility of physical or emotional abuse. Help is available to get information, resources and the determination to walk away and stand on your own two feet for good. You really can have a good life by ending a marriage that has you on terror alert 24/7; take the opportunity and make it happen. Often, the most difficult hurdle to overcome is admitting that your relationship is abusive in the first place.

Carolyn—39 years old

I was married to a man who was addicted to drugs. During our short engagement I knew he occasionally smoked marijuana at parties, but it never seemed habitual. During the early years of our marriage, we were both athletic and very involved in preparing for and running marathons together. Once we had children, a lot of our extracurricular activities came to a halt, and his substitute for feeling good and escaping was to experiment with drugs.

Life quickly started to change; he lived in his own little world of work and drugs. He didn't participate in family activities, and when he was home it was like living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I would literally hold my breath when he walked through the front door, wondering which personality to brace myself for. I found myself getting very depressed as his neglect and verbal abuse intensified. After some particular nasty behavior he could always read me to know when I reached my limit and was ready to kick him out. When this happened he would routinely throw me a few crumbs of sweetness and back off the drugs for a few days. I allowed this dance to become a crazy cycle of getting pushed away and sucked right back in. I became his enabler by making his life's routine with drugs easy. I would take care of everything and leave him with little responsibility. He could count on me to care for the children, the house and the bills, and I was always around to participate in the next round of abuse.

I became sick of living in crisis mode when the terror alert was always red. A friend suggested that I join Al-Anon, and the counselors there were wonderful. The group meetings taught me that in order to beat an addiction my husband would have to get sober first and then deal with the underlying issues that got him there in the first place. By staying, I made his life too easy and gave him no reason to make that transition. After a few months of counseling, I found the strength to take the children and leave.

Breaking away was one of the hardest things to do, but unquestionably one of the best things I could ever have done. A few months after I left, he started getting help but to this day he still struggles with his addiction, but is slowly making progress. The guilt I felt for leaving him was overwhelming, but it was what I had to do for myself and my children.

A few months after my divorce, I started to understand that life didn't have to be about living in stress mode 24/7. Going through that difficult time made me appreciate life more and all the possibilities that were open to me. I had much more energy for myself, for my children and for furthering my career. In time, I gained perspective and started feeling like a whole person again, and I decided to start dating. It was a bit awkward at first, but now I'm having a great time meeting all kinds of people and I feel terrific. In my marriage, there never seemed to be any time to have fun. The stress of erratic and abusive behavior from a husband addicted to drugs, along with the responsibilities of kids and work, had sucked the life out of me. For me, getting a divorce and learning to live my life again has been a gift not only to myself but, more importantly, to my children.

Lessons Learned

• -Verbal abuse is abuse. It's more difficult to believe or prove because there are no visible marks left on the body, but significant damage is being done.

• -Any type of abuse is unacceptable. If your safety is at risk you need to leave. Your community has services to help.

Making Peace with Yourself

Most women who chose divorce and who have eventually found their happiness have no regrets:

• -They feel like they did the necessary work to truly improve themselves and their relationships before giving up on their marriages. Their gut feelings told them it was all right to let go and move on.

• -They had realistic views of marriage and knew that Prince Charming only lives in fairy tales.

• -Their decision to divorce was not made after a blow-out or disagreement, but was a slow and gradual choice that required thought and soul-searching. Making the decision gave them a feeling of peace.

• -The process temporarily turned everyone's life upside down. Their definition of everything returning to 'normal' took on a whole new meaning as they settled down into something quite different from life as they knew it.

• -The pay-off for working through the process was significant and worth all the hardship and growing pains.

• -The recently divorced said it was necessary to spend time alone to get some perspective and figure out who they currently were and what they wanted before getting involved in another relationship.

• -They experienced moments of doubt and regret for what could have been but realized this was normal and very important to grieve the loss of the person, as well as the dream, in order to move on. There was no escaping the pain in order to move on toward healing.

Attitude Is Everything

Throughout this book you will constantly be reminded that having a healthy attitude is essential for your recovery after divorce. This is especially true when you tackle the challenge of financially securing your future during the process of divorce. Having a positive attitude is even more important as you start your new life.

Through my interview process for the book, I had a unique opportunity to meet women from many walks of life. They each had different personalities and attitudes that directly affected their emotional and financial futures after divorce. The next few pages describe certain stereotypes of women I came to know through my process. Think about the type of person you want to be as you start securing and making your way into your new future.

The 'Prima Donna'

She's the woman caught in a circle of dependency screaming, 'Somebody take care of me now, I deserve it!' Her divorce isn't even final, and she's already spending her evening hours out on the town on the prowl for a 'Prince Charming' to rescue her from herself. Her mantra is: 'The first time I married for love, the next time I'm marrying for money!' During the daylight hours, she's applying all her energy and resources toward the legal battle of squeezing out more money from her ex. She's not even thinking about facing her financial responsibility. She's way too busy shopping at the mall. She spends ridiculous amounts of money on designer handbags and expensive lunches with her friends so they can complain about their lives and bad-mouth their exes.

The Prima Donna strategy pans out badly in court and in real life. Judges can't stand women with their attitudes and jewelry as they sob into their Kleenex. As far as eligible men, I can't think of any worthy bachelor who would be attracted to a woman whose main objective is a free ride. The Prima Donna may enjoy a cushy lifestyle for a few years after the divorce—until the alimony stops and the money runs out. That's when reality sets in and she realizes how much time and energy she wasted.

She could have used her resources and time wisely to get a head start on her new life with a plan to become financially independent. Instead, she squandered away her opportunity and now has to start off at a disadvantage as she scrambles to get her feet on the ground. Out of desperation, she may latch on to some shlub who is willing to take care of her. The problem is that the free ride usually has a lot of strings attached that will only create more misery and dependency.

The 'Vengeful Princess Warrior'

We all know the saying: 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.' The Vengeful Princess Warrior is the woman who proves that women can be more vicious and conniving than men. She cleans out all financial accounts and makes a mad dash for the hills. If she needs to stick around, she is premeditative and finds inventive strategies for pocketing thousands of dollars without her husband's knowledge before the divorce is final.

What she doesn't know is that her scheming is quite obvious and will potentially hurt any chance of her getting what she deserves. For example, a woman who has a game plan to fulfill her domestic and ­cosmetic dreams just before asking her husband for a divorce is in for a surprise. She's the one who redecorates her whole house, gets her teeth capped and breasts augmented, and for her pain and misery buys herself expensive pieces of jewelry. When this type of case goes to court, a judge will be very displeased with her recent acquisitions and ­enhancements. Once the marital estate is divided, there is a good chance she will have to pay for her new expenses herself because her timing was suspect. Even worse, she might be asking for some type of alimony in front of a judge who is already disgusted with her behavior.

The other type of princess warrior is out for spite because her husband has left her for another woman. She has tried to ease her pain through wholesale and retail therapy with a vengeance as she happily creates a huge credit card debt. When it comes time for the divorce, there will be little understanding or empathy for her reckless swiping of plastic. A judge will likely make her responsible for her shopping spree debt, which may take her years to pay off.

Unfortunately, the Vengeful Princess Warrior has not learned that reckless behavior will not only hurt her financially but also emotionally. Her anger is getting the best of her, and she will suffer the consequences. The princess needs to have an intervention for her reckless behavior because it will likely risk her financial and emotional future. Regardless of the situation, she needs to get a grip on her anger and try to take the high road. Being honest and fair with her spouse with what she realistically and legally deserves will positively serve her future. Smarter actions and a better attitude will help her achieve a better outcome. She will also like herself better for handling a difficult situation with grace and dignity. This holds true especially when she has continued contact with him after the divorce as they raise their children together.

Lessons Learned

• -There is a great saying: 'Your morals and principles are only as good as when they are put to the test.' Try to remember this when you're about to do something out of anger; it will help get you back on the right path.

• Bad behavior will bring you bad results.

• -A judge will easily see through any type of pre­meditative actions that affect the marital estate.

• -Get a reality check, nobody owes you anything. Don't count on a judge to reward you a settlement that will set you up for life. If you are lucky enough to get some form of alimony, use your time and money wisely.

• -The sooner you take financial responsibility for your life, the sooner you can start taking actions to make it work on your terms.

The 'Guilty Conscience'

The woman with the guilty conscience lets her judgment cloud the divorce negotiations. She's the woman who lets her husband take full advantage of her financially because she is guilt-ridden for ending the marriage. Unfortunately, once reality sets in, she realizes what she forfeited after it's too late to fight for a more equitable settlement. What she failed to realize is that sometimes the action that ended a marriage is simply the straw that broke the camel's back after years of problems and misery.

Lessons Learned

• -Don't let your guilt get the best of you and allow yourself to be taken advantage of during your divorce.

• -Remember that your husband most likely played a significant role in the destruction of your marriage. Stand up and fight for what you deserve.

'Glenda the Good'

She's the woman whose conscience helps guide her actions to do what is fair. She tries not to take too much advantage of a situation and remembers that the cost of a legal battle might cancel out any possible financial or emotional victory. She listens to her lawyer carefully but makes the final decisions herself. She understands that her lawyer has an interest in prolonging the battle because it lines his pockets.

This woman is able to let her conscience evaluate the big picture and balance the financial and emotional factors. She chooses the path of less chaos and destruction while standing her ground firmly for what she realistically deserves and is legally entitled to. This is especially important when children are involved. Her conscience guides her to fight for what her children need without dragging them into a bloody legal battle that can last for years. She understands how detrimental a vicious battle can be, causing stress and anxiety that will directly affect her children.

Glenda the Good makes a choice to call off her bloodhound attorneys. While she knows she could have milked her husband for all he was worth, she knows she couldn't live with herself after the bloodbath. Her conscience tells her she has no claim to someone else's fortune even though she could have tapped into it legally. She settles out of court for something that is fair which gives her a good head start in her new life. Glenda the Good walks away from divorce with her pride and dignity intact. Her choices and actions attract many wonderful things and people into her new life.

Lessons Learned

• -A smart woman will do her best to set aside her emotions when making decisions regarding the business of divorce. Thinking smart will minimize the emotional and financial toll.

• -Fight for what you deserve as you take the high road; your actions during the divorce will spill over into your new life.

The 'Victim'

She is the woman your heart breaks for, whose life is filled with heartache and broken promises. She's dealt with infidelity, drug addictions, gambling addictions and abuse. She has little emotional or financial support and is faced with the daunting task of supporting herself, and maybe even children, solo. She feels like she's swimming in a tank filled with sharks and can barley keep her head above water.

She can easily fall into victim mode when she's left with huge debt, no money in the bank, and no chance for alimony or child support after her husband has disappeared. Whether or not she's a self-imposed or legitimate victim, life moves on and she needs to find a way to survive financially.

Lessons Learned

• -Initially, the majority of women suffer more financially from the breakup of a marriage than men. It may take years to recover a certain lifestyle, but women do better overall post divorce after adjusting to their new set of circumstances.

• -When forced to reach their potential women accomplish far more than they ever thought ­possible.

• -Recovery starts the moment action is taken to adjust to a new ­situation. Many women say that once they opened their hearts and minds, it wasn't hard to make the choice to go from 'victim' mentality to 'survivor' mentality.

The 'Survivor'

She's the woman who goes through the divorce experience feeling like a contestant on a reality TV show. She describes being thrown into a situation where she had to hit the ground running with limited resources. While protecting her young, she had to search for shelter, food and a way to survive during the worst possible storm she ever experienced.

She felt like a caged animal that had finally been set free into the unknown wild with limited skills. Every night she would watch over her children as they slept, filled with anxiety about how she was going to get through the next day. Her feelings continued week after week as she worked like a dog and barely got by. The weight of the responsibility was almost too much when she realized her family's survival was all up to her, but there was no time to think about it.

Instead of cursing her new circumstances, she knew the only thing to do was figure out how to make it work. After some time, she started to get a handle on things and carved out a place for her family in this wild new world. Her success started giving her a sense of control over her life. It was a hard test, but she felt she had passed with much hard work and a positive attitude toward success.

The survivor is a woman who goes from being a scared little housewife to a successful provider and strong mother for her children. She starts to enjoy and live her life instead of just surviving it. Her prize is her independence and happiness she never experienced in her old life until she was forced to embark on a journey of financial and emotional survival.

Lessons Learned

• -Women who have good outcomes with their divorces and 'afterlife' have positive attitudes toward life and money. They see their future the way they want it to be regardless of their situation and make a choice to figure out a way to make it on their own.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

So it's time to bite the bullet and move into the process of uncoupling. You feel like your head is about to explode as you sift through the paperwork in your divorce packet and come face-to-face with something called the financial affidavit. It's a piece of paper asking you to fill out every financial detail of your life. It's the absolute last thing you think you're capable of doing because you're barely functioning in your emotionally overloaded state. At any moment, you don't know if you're going to cry or throw something across the room, and now you're being asked to sit down and crunch numbers? Yeah, right.

Unfortunately, you don't have a choice; there is no getting around this business of uncoupling. Taking a mental leave of absence during this critical part of divorce will jeopardize your future. There will be plenty of time to work on your emotional state but right now you have to compartmentalize what's in your head so you can hunker down and zero in on your finances. If you can't do it alone, get some help from your attorney or a family member to get focused on the tasks ahead of you.

The key to succeeding in the business of divorce is to keep your cool and remain objective. Move forward steadily, but with vigilance and eyes wide open. Taking stock of your finances and how these might change is an important next step that you need to take seriously. The next chapter will help prepare you to work out your financial situation. Getting familiar with your finances will give you the tools and confidence to effectively manage your divorce and make adjustments for the future.

©2005. Amy Botwinick. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Congratulations On Your Divorce: The Road to Finding Your Happily Ever After. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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Congratulations on Your Divorce: The Road to Finding Your Happily Ever After 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been divorced for over a year and felt alone until I read Amy Botwinick's 'Congratulations on your Divorce'. I laughed and cried but most of all I received therapy and comfort from this book. She had many great tips and ideas to help women step outside of their emotional selves and start living happily again- (maybe for the first time). I was surprised to learn about my ex husband as she described him perfectly. I now understand where he is coming from, which aids me in the area of forgiveness and ultimately moving on with my life. She talks about everything divorce forces us to face like, lawyers and courtroom situations, our financial circumstances, the ex's new girlfriend, dealing with the kids and co-parenting, sex after divorce, sexual disease, and how to handle virtually every situation that arises. It's all in the attitude. And don't let the title fool you, she helps women get back in the saddle and not be afraid to get involved with another relationship given the lessons we've learned from the previous one. I feel much more confident and ready to live my happily ever after now since I've read this book!
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