6 Things That No One Tells You About Divorce

The statistics are pretty shocking: 40-50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce. That means that every woman who walks down the aisle has a 1 in 2 chance of not making it to her silver wedding anniversary.

If you find yourself headed for a split, you might have certain expectations about how the unraveling of your union will go. Will your vision match reality? Not necessarily, say divorce attorneys, therapists, family planners, and real women who’ve been there. We asked them to share their insights into what tends to take divorcees by surprise. (Looking to take back control of your health? Prevention has smart answers—get 2 FREE gifts when you subscribe today.)

“When you’re dealing with the emotional struggles of divorce, it’s hard to also be digging into your finances, especially if you were in the traditional role of being the party who did not pay the bills or plan investment and retirement,” says Nicole Sodoma, a family law attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina. Among the things you’ll need to think about: acquiring (and paying for) your own health insurance and whether you’ll realistically be able to stay in your current home.

“Many women fight to retain the marital residence, then realize with a shock that they don’t make enough money to pay the mortgage, or they get rejected when trying to refinance, which is sometimes required after a divorce,” adds Sodoma.

A certified divorce financial analyst (find one at institutedfa.com) can help you deal with these sorts of issues. Even the best attorney “doesn’t have the capacity to keep up with the investment and tax issues involved in dividing resources,” says Pam Friedman, a certified divorce financial planner in Austin, Texas.

MORE: 10 Silent Signals You’re Way Too Stressed

When Catherine, a 48-year-old Boston public relations executive, filed for divorce from her cheating cad of a husband, she assumed the circumstances meant she’d get everything, including sole custody of the children and most of the family assets. But the reality couldn’t have been more different. “My divorce attorney sat me down and explained that no matter how awful my husband had been, our state was a no-fault state, which meant that the judge wouldn’t look at past conduct when it came to awarding custody and assets,” she remembers. She ended up with 50/50 custody, and, since her ex made less than her, she had to pay him child support.

Seventeen states—including Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Kentucky, and California—and the District of Columbia are no-fault zones, which means you can’t file for divorce on traditional grounds such as adultery, abandonment, or cruelty. And even if you don’t live in a no-fault state, judges nowadays are still much less likely to take factors such as cheating into account, says Sodoma.

The sad reality is that no matter how strong you think your relationships with coupled-up pals are, they may give you a wide berth once you announce you’re leaving your sinking ship. “All of my friends said the right things—they expressed sorrow and sadness—but I felt like they were using as my experience as a way to reassure themselves that their marriages were still intact,” recalls Rebecca, a 42-year-old marketing executive in NYC.

When she asked them to join her in drinking away her sorrows post-work at a local pub or to meet her for coffee on the weekend when her son was with her ex, they scattered. “It hurt that after a decade of friendship, no one could take an hour to spend some time with me when I was so clearly hurting and craved conversation with someone who wasn’t 8 years old,” she says.

The good news is you can find new comrades to replace the ones you’ve lost; Rebecca reached out to other single moms at her son’s school, and was heartened by their welcoming response. (Here are 8 friends every woman needs.)

The amount of time you spend grieving a relationship tends to be roughly equivalent to half the time you were actually in the relationship, says Nicki Nance, PhD, a marital and relationship therapist in Leesburg, Florida. That means that if you were with your ex for a decade, you can expect to feel bouts of sadness ebb and flow for around five years. “Women are surprised by that—they’ll tell me, ‘He treated me so badly; why do I miss him?'” Nance says. “I have to explain to them that they’re not missing the man they left—they’re missing the man they married, that time before the relationship went bad.”

One common pitfall is bemoaning the “lost” years you spent with Mr. Wrong. “I find my female clients are more tuned in to the aging process—they’ll come in devastated that they wasted a decade of their life on this person,” says Nance. “I try to joke about it. I say to them, well, if you don’t count all the time you were asleep, it’s really only six-and-a-half years! But part of healing is making them see that it wasn’t just wasted time, that they grew and experienced positive moments in the relationship, even during its worst times.”

MORE: Are You Bummed Out…Or Depressed?

“After you get divorced, you may find that people who are just like your ex are drawn to you like heat-seeking missiles,” says Nance. Whether they’re attracted to you or you subconsciously seek them out, you need to make a conscious effort to correct the pattern or the same story will repeat itself. “I have patients write down exactly what criteria they want in their next partner and what they don’t want, based on their experiences with their ex,” says Nance. If the next Don Juan who waltzes up to you doesn’t match your checklist, send him away. (Here are 8 things you need to know about dating after divorce.)

You may feel awful right now, but most women end up significantly happier after getting divorced, according to a 2013 study done at Kingston University in London. This holds true even if they’ve suffered financially as a result of the split.

“Rather than spend the rest of my life in a loveless relationship with a man who mistreated me, I was giving myself a do-over and setting out on my own,” says Rebecca. “After it was all finalized, I felt so empowered for following my gut.”

The statistics are pretty shocking: 40-50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce. That means that every woman who walks down the aisle has a 1 in 2 chance of not making it to her silver wedding anniversary.

If you find yourself headed for a split, you might have certain expectations about how the unraveling of your union will go. Will your vision match reality? Not necessarily, say divorce attorneys, therapists, family planners, and real women who’ve been there. We asked them to share their insights into what tends to take divorcees by surprise. (Looking to take back control of your health? Prevention has smart answers—get 2 FREE gifts when you subscribe today.)

The statistics are pretty shocking: 40-50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce. That means that every woman who walks down the aisle has a 1 in 2 chance of not making it to her silver wedding anniversary.

If you find yourself headed for a split, you might have certain expectations about how the unraveling of your union will go. Will your vision match reality? Not necessarily, say divorce attorneys, therapists, family planners, and real women who’ve been there. We asked them to share their insights into what tends to take divorcees by surprise. (Looking to take back control of your health? Prevention has smart answers—get 2 FREE gifts when you subscribe today.)

“When you’re dealing with the emotional struggles of divorce, it’s hard to also be digging into your finances, especially if you were in the traditional role of being the party who did not pay the bills or plan investment and retirement,” says Nicole Sodoma, a family law attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina. Among the things you’ll need to think about: acquiring (and paying for) your own health insurance and whether you’ll realistically be able to stay in your current home.

“Many women fight to retain the marital residence, then realize with a shock that they don’t make enough money to pay the mortgage, or they get rejected when trying to refinance, which is sometimes required after a divorce,” adds Sodoma.

A certified divorce financial analyst (find one at institutedfa.com) can help you deal with these sorts of issues. Even the best attorney “doesn’t have the capacity to keep up with the investment and tax issues involved in dividing resources,” says Pam Friedman, a certified divorce financial planner in Austin, Texas.

MORE: 10 Silent Signals You’re Way Too Stressed

When Catherine, a 48-year-old Boston public relations executive, filed for divorce from her cheating cad of a husband, she assumed the circumstances meant she’d get everything, including sole custody of the children and most of the family assets. But the reality couldn’t have been more different. “My divorce attorney sat me down and explained that no matter how awful my husband had been, our state was a no-fault state, which meant that the judge wouldn’t look at past conduct when it came to awarding custody and assets,” she remembers. She ended up with 50/50 custody, and, since her ex made less than her, she had to pay him child support.

Seventeen states—including Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Kentucky, and California—and the District of Columbia are no-fault zones, which means you can’t file for divorce on traditional grounds such as adultery, abandonment, or cruelty. And even if you don’t live in a no-fault state, judges nowadays are still much less likely to take factors such as cheating into account, says Sodoma.

The sad reality is that no matter how strong you think your relationships with coupled-up pals are, they may give you a wide berth once you announce you’re leaving your sinking ship. “All of my friends said the right things—they expressed sorrow and sadness—but I felt like they were using as my experience as a way to reassure themselves that their marriages were still intact,” recalls Rebecca, a 42-year-old marketing executive in NYC.

When she asked them to join her in drinking away her sorrows post-work at a local pub or to meet her for coffee on the weekend when her son was with her ex, they scattered. “It hurt that after a decade of friendship, no one could take an hour to spend some time with me when I was so clearly hurting and craved conversation with someone who wasn’t 8 years old,” she says.

The good news is you can find new comrades to replace the ones you’ve lost; Rebecca reached out to other single moms at her son’s school, and was heartened by their welcoming response. (Here are 8 friends every woman needs.)

The amount of time you spend grieving a relationship tends to be roughly equivalent to half the time you were actually in the relationship, says Nicki Nance, PhD, a marital and relationship therapist in Leesburg, Florida. That means that if you were with your ex for a decade, you can expect to feel bouts of sadness ebb and flow for around five years. “Women are surprised by that—they’ll tell me, ‘He treated me so badly; why do I miss him?'” Nance says. “I have to explain to them that they’re not missing the man they left—they’re missing the man they married, that time before the relationship went bad.”

One common pitfall is bemoaning the “lost” years you spent with Mr. Wrong. “I find my female clients are more tuned in to the aging process—they’ll come in devastated that they wasted a decade of their life on this person,” says Nance. “I try to joke about it. I say to them, well, if you don’t count all the time you were asleep, it’s really only six-and-a-half years! But part of healing is making them see that it wasn’t just wasted time, that they grew and experienced positive moments in the relationship, even during its worst times.”

MORE: Are You Bummed Out…Or Depressed?

“After you get divorced, you may find that people who are just like your ex are drawn to you like heat-seeking missiles,” says Nance. Whether they’re attracted to you or you subconsciously seek them out, you need to make a conscious effort to correct the pattern or the same story will repeat itself. “I have patients write down exactly what criteria they want in their next partner and what they don’t want, based on their experiences with their ex,” says Nance. If the next Don Juan who waltzes up to you doesn’t match your checklist, send him away. (Here are 8 things you need to know about dating after divorce.)

You may feel awful right now, but most women end up significantly happier after getting divorced, according to a 2013 study done at Kingston University in London. This holds true even if they’ve suffered financially as a result of the split.

“Rather than spend the rest of my life in a loveless relationship with a man who mistreated me, I was giving myself a do-over and setting out on my own,” says Rebecca. “After it was all finalized, I felt so empowered for following my gut.”

Source: Prevention