Divorce Club provides support, advice, divorce stories and a community for people starting again and coping with divorce. The main purpose of this site is to help you feel supported and understood. With 250,000 people divorcing every year (and this does not include breakups), you do not need to go through this alone.
One of the top ten reasons for divorce is vegetarianism!
Believe it or not food habits including vegetarianism are cited as one of the top ten reasons for divorce in Britain. So why do more vegetarians get divorced?
When couples divorce, if they are doing so on the ground of unreasonable behaviour, they have to state reasons why. Once upon a time, these used to be more extreme reasons like addiction or violence but now changes in diet or even snoring have become reasons for divorce.
So how can being a vegetarian break up a marriage? Why do more vegetarians get divorced?
According to a study from 2010 there are about 1,525 million vegans and vegetarians around the world.
Whether you fall into the vegan camp or you eat animal products or meat, there are arguments either way for your lifestyle choice.
It’s perfectly possibly and indeed common for “mixed marriages” between vegans and omnivores to work out. With mutual respect and communication, and some agreed ground rules, couples can navigate this tricky territory together.
Some compromises include – not eating meat at home but being able to eat it outside the home.
Or each cooking their own food.
Fundamentally it’s not just about what you like to eat – the bigger picture includes environmental, nutritional and cultural concerns.
What you eat says a lot about who you are
So when couples don’t see eye to eye on what they eat, and their reasons why involve a moral and ethical stance, that’s when problems occur.
It’s not just vegetarians who get divorced when changes like this happen. It can be any significant lifestyle or dietary change.
Real examples of relationship problems
Consider these poor folks with food related relationship problems on Reddit:
When I met my husband, he told me off the bat that he was vegan. I ate meat my entire life and told him that. Over months of dating, I cooked vegan meals for us, was always trying to find vegan options when food shopping, and limiting my meat intake around him. I was very respectful of his life decisions, and never made him feel like an outcast for being vegan. My family members used to heckle me saying that it must be annoying to go anywhere with him, but I ignored their judgements.
He actually enjoyed cooking meat for me and my son. He spent a lot of time and effort making things for me even though he didn’t have to. He said he enjoyed making things he knew I loved. Not once did he say it bothered him.
Then we got married and now months later, he’s trying to divorce me because I’m not vegan; saying that it bothered him to cook for me after he said previously he enjoyed doing it. He never vocalized that he was upset until now. He said he didn’t want to cook meat for me. He said it bothered him. But he offered. I was very confused because not once did he ever tell me that he wanted me to become vegan. I thought our relationship was great because we both respected each-other’s lifestyles and accommodated them nicely.
I’m at almost 6 years, she is a little over four. She has had knee and back problems, and a neck and knee surgery. During the recovery from both she gained some weight (not that she wasn’t already overweight). Her doctor today gave her a hard time about her weight and she so she has decided to start eating meat and cut carbs. We’ve had the conversation about counting calories and more exercise but apparently that doesn’t make sense to her or her doctor.
Am I wrong to feel upset/angry? I don’t want to use the word betrayed, but that’s closer to how I feel.
My husband and I are having major issues over begin vegan and raising a vegan baby. Need advice.
When we talk about raising this kid, he becomes absolutely livid at the thought of not raising them vegan. I told him he needs to research the nutritional requirements of a toddler, as well as drastically up his cooking game. Right now all he cooks is pasta once a week (which by the way is not great for my waistline).
How do I meet him in the middle on this? Are these huge red flags? And, has anyone here raised a vegan child?
I did actually have my ex husband tell me that me being vegan was a factor in why he wanted a divorce. To prove a point, I immediately ate a cookie and said something like “there, is our marriage fixed?”. Obviously it did not change a damn thing and he was just being hurtful and looking for excuses to end things because his friends didn’t like me (and because he was a jerk). Keep in mind, I was vegan when we met…
If someone in the relationship changes it can put tremendous strain on a couple. A person either taking up or giving up vegetarianism or veganism can seriously rock the boat. Not only because they may have strong ethical reasons for the change, but because change tests relationships.
Most people don’t like change and they aren’t always that keen on their spouse changing.
A different but related cause for divorce is when one spouse loses a lot of weight and the other doesn’t.
A survey found that if an overweight person who was obese when the relationship or marriage began had bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) the chances of that relationship ending within two years was 80 to 85 percent.
The shift in lifestyle change can really derail a couple if they don’t take care to reinforce their mutual support and love for each other.
Taking some time to think calmly about change can help
If one person in a relationship decides to start or stop being a vegetarian or vegan, flying off the handle isn’t going to solve anything.
In any relationship change is inevitable! So it’s important not to panic.
If your partner decides to change something dramatic about their eating habits, think about the following things:
Focus on why the change is happening and what positive things may come out of it. Some vegans chose to relax their diet for health reasons, during pregnancy, or simply if they are out with friends who are not vegan. Likewise meat-eaters may chose to give up meat for health, ethical, environmental or empathetic reasons.
The important thing is to try and understand their reasons and view them with some compassion and patience.
If the change feels intolerable to you, work out what your emotions are saying. Are you angry because of a U-turn on a moral standing? Are you sad that you will not be able to enjoy mealtimes together? Are you fearful that the change will change your relationship?
Is there a way you can calm these emotions? Is there a solution to put your fears to rest?
Change can be a force for good. How can you use the change to help your relationship? Perhaps you can learn how to cook vegan food? If you love food and regard yourself as a foodie, learning a new way to cook could be a real feather in your cap. If you are passionately against eating meat, perhaps you can persuade your partner to eat less of it by cooking them some delicious veggie food – up your game!
4. Change is not always permanent. People often make decisions only to reverse them later. If you feel passionately about your choice of diet and you can’t persuade your partner with words, then simply eat your way, make it as ethical, delicious and tempting as you can and perhaps in time your partner will come round to your way of thinking. Play the long game.
At the end of the day, divorce is often more permanent than a change in diet. So keep that in mind as you navigate your vegan/ vegetarian/ meat eating future…
If you think that your divorce is expensive, then please spare a thought for Mr Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon. His divorce cost is set to cost him $68 billion which is half his fortune. This means that now, Mr and Mrs Bezos could only be able to buy 3,669,957 Volkswagen Golf cars each.
The separation was announced after Mr Bezos had just had a particularly booming year in which he earnt a ginormous $8 million an hour, bringing his fortune up to $137 billion, or £145 billion pounds. There are no typos in that last sentence, Mr Bezos earnt $8million in the time it would take you to get into work and make yourself a cuppa.
On the other hand, the divorce will actually make the soon-to-be-ex Mrs Bezos (49) the richest woman on the planet. So let us speculate on what happened for Mrs Bezos in this very profitable (in the financial sense) 25 year marriage.
MacKenzie’s life changing year 1992.
Mrs MacKenzie Bezos came from a pretty normal background. Her father was a financial planner and her mother was a home maker. However, MacKenzie was no ordinary woman and her life really took off in 1992. In this year, she graduated with the highest honours from the prestigious Princeton University and was described by her tutor, famous author Toni Morrisey, as one of the best students she had ever had.
Later that year, MacKenzie met Jeff Bezos who actually interviewed her for a position as a researcher for a New York hedge fund. Her confidence must have been sky high as apparently, she actually asked Jeff out. Not everyone has the nerve to ask their boss out (nor the inclination in many cases). After a mere 3 months of dating, they married.
Soon after the marriage, Jeff quit his stable, and well-paid job to start a company called Amazon. I do not need to introduce you to this company as you probably use it several times a month. MacKenzie was the first employee and was integral in setting it up.
In 2000, MacKenzie had their first of 4 children, (one is adopted) and said that she dedicated her life to motherhood at this point. Nevertheless, she still managed find time to write her first book which was published in 2006 called, ‘The Testing of Luther Albright’. The book was so good that it won the American Book Award in 2006.
What went wrong?
There are several versions as to what went wrong. The official line is that it is an amicable separation. The end of the marriage was announced via a tweet in the divorce month of January. However, the very next day after the announcement, the American magazine, The Enquirer, published a story about how Jeff had been having an affair with glamourous TV presenter Lauren Sanchez.
Here at divorce club, we believe that affairs are a lot more complex than just one person being to blame. It is possible that MacKenzie had just given far too much to Jeff. She essentially put off her writing career to help him set up Amazon and have a family. While this might have been financially profitable, did she end up resenting Jeff for making her give up her writing so that they could focus on him? Or did she lose sight of her love of writing in the desire to achieve financial stability? Either way, she may not have been doing what she loved. Sacrificing the things we love can make us feel less happy and confident.
While the talented MacKenzie was trying to find a way to establish her own identity, Jeff was becoming seriously rich. The more rich and famous he became, the more MacKenzie was becoming Mrs Amazon, and the talented writer was becoming more and more forgotten.
While Jeff is no hunk, his wealth and fame will have delivered no shortage of women to his door. Some of these women will have been successful, confident and in the prime of their career, possibly reminding him of the woman that his wife used to be. Some of these women will have aggressively pursued him in the hope of becoming even more rich and powerful.
In the end, Jeff was seduced by a beautiful but pretty average TV presenter. Yes, she is more physically attractive than his MacKenzie (although MacKenzie is still beautiful), but she is far less intelligent and talented. Jeff could have supported his wife more to build her confidence, but instead, he has used her brilliance for his own benefit and then left when he had sucked her dry.
MacKenzie, you are a remarkable woman. Use your talents on yourself and your children, unsubscribe from Amazon, enjoy the money and get writing.
It’s a great day in Divorce Club Towers! A no-fault divorce law is round the corner!
Justice Secretary, David Gauke has confirmed that he will be
bringing in the legislation for the reform.
This means that there will no longer be a need to dish out blame for the end of a marriage, citing reasons such as unreasonable behaviour or adultery. Nor will separating couples have to wait, like Tini Owens, for years to be legally divorced.
The current system: the blame game
The current system means that when a marriage irretrievably
breaks down it has to be evidenced by one of five reasons:
a mutual 2 year separation,
or if one partner does not agree, a five year
The Tini Owens case is a high profile example of when the
current law can imprison people in a marriage.
The supreme court ruled in 2018 that she could not use unreasonable
behaviour as a ground for divorce and therefore had to wait for five years to
elapse before she could legally separate.
Despite the fact Ms Owens was trapped in an unhappy
marriage, she was legally unable to leave it.
Since this ruling the pressure for no-fault divorce has been mounting. So today’s happy news means that cases like Tini Owens will be a thing of the past.
Now a no fault divorce law is round the corner!
We are thrilled. At
Divorce Club we meet lots of people who are already in emotional turmoil who
have needlessly been put through more distress by having to formalise blame for
their ex partner.
No-one who gets married wants divorce, but the reality is
that around half the population’s marriages will fail. Anything that can help that half divorce like
adults with dignity and compassion is a plus in our book.
Our legal system should not be making divorce more combative and traumatic than it already has the potential to be. A no fault divorce law will take away at least one area of suffering.
We aren’t the only ones to be pleased that a no fault divorce law is finally coming.
Speaking in response, Nigel Shepherd, former Chair of Resolution, said:
“Our members, and the families they work with, will be delighted that, after years of campaigning, we are now so close to ending the ‘blame game’ that many divorcing couples are currently forced to play.
“There is clearly much detail still to agree, and we’ll be providing Ministers and officials with all the support we can to help this new legislation come forward, and be enacted, as soon as possible.”
news was also welcomed by law firms and individuals up and down the country.
“Fantastic news today about no fault divorce. Reform is long overdue.”
Kingsley Napley Family
“We’re a step closer to no-fault divorce, ending protracted courtroom battles.
“Great news. An end to the blame game is in sight.”
“It means the focus will become one of a positive future rather than dwelling perhaps on an unhappy marriage”
“The news re no fault divorce has been coming. In practical terms it won’t change the need to get good advice re the financial aspects of divorce but ti should help to remove acrimony in difficult relationship breakdowns.”
Coles Miller Family Law
“Thrilled to see this in the news this morning!”
We look forward to seeing this reform enacted and hope it
will pave the way for much easier divorces in future.
Expert Dinner Ordering For Your First Date
by Jennifer Kingsman
A first date matters. According to Top Dating Tips, 71% of people believe in love at first sight. You never know, your meal out without someone new could be the start of something incredibly special. This is why it’s important to consider a few potential dinner pitfalls. It may be a long while since you have been on a date – don’t let a bad food choice or poor manners stand in the way of a perfect evening together. Here are a few tips for your first dinner date.
1. Never order for your date
Some years ago it might have been considered chivalrous to order for your date, but now it is definitely a faux pas. As we get older, dining etiquette has changed. It is however good manners to let your date order first. Compliment their choices and talk about the find of flavors that they like to eat. It is good research for a potential second date. If you want to order a starter, check first if they are planning to do the same thing. On a first date it is a bit odd sitting there eating chicken liver pate whilst they watch you. This is however a good opportunity to suggest a sharing platter to start your meal.
2. Pick your dinner carefully
First date food choices can be a minefield. If you’re wearing a white shirt, then perhaps spaghetti bolognaise isn’t the best choice, unless you’re particularly adept with cutlery. Unless your date has boldly ordered a dish with garlic, it might be best to steer clear too, if you’re hoping for a first kiss. Now is not the time for wacky food choices either. Play it safe, you don’t want to end up ordering something that you may not like, or end up not eating.
Of course if you are a brave foodie, have what you like – it could be a talking point! And food ordering can be an opportunity to see if there are any areas that are red flags e.g. a staunch meat eater and a vegan may not be very compatible practically or ethically.
3. Be kind and polite with your server
How you interact with your server and other restaurant staff will be judged by your date. Be kind and polite to them and ask for advice on seasonal dishes and wine pairings. Even if there is a problem, or things don’t quite go to plan, treat the staff with respect and resolve things in a reasonable manner.
If your dinner date is rude to staff, take note… it’s not a good sign.
4. Don’t discuss the diet
A survey found that the top conversation killer on a first date is talking about past relationships.
The second is discussing diet and body image.
On your date, leave the keto/paleo/Dukan/cabbage soup diet at the door and instead order the sharing portion of ice-cream cake, with two spoons. The dating app Hinge conducted a survey and found that the most popular first date food was fried chicken – just goes to show that counting calories is definitely out.
If you are going to stick to the diet, then good on you for willpower, but just order the food without the running commentary about the diet.
A first date is the stepping stone to a future relationship. Hopefully your first meal out together will be memorable for all the right reasons.
Recovering from the trauma of a broken marriage takes time and support, but most people are optimistic enough to hope that they will have a second chance at happiness and find love again.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Agnieszka Burban, has worked in both areas: looking at recovering from trauma AND now working with people who want to find love again. Lucy from Divorce Club spoke to her to find out what hope there is for all of us!
Lucy: Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into studying our broken hearts?!
Agnieszka: Having spent the second part of my life in London I moved to Sweden in 2017. Love brought me there however the relationship did not work out! This is how I developed an interest in the psychology of breakup and divorce.
As I was going through the many stages of the post-breakup, I was seeking answers to the many emotional states I was in.
“There are several stages in the healing process.”
There are several stages in the healing process. What I found out from both my own and my interviewees experience is that the initial stages are those of loss and bereavement (in particular, if you were the one who was left).
There are lots of feelings that take time to process, especially those of anger and resentment. What often happens is that if people were left, they might hold on to those feelings for a long time, sometimes for years.
“A heart needs healing as much as a broken arm or leg.”
If they were hurt, and have not processed the feelings and healed their heart, the scar is there. Our hearts need healing as much as a broken arm or a leg. Katherine Woodward Thomas says that the heart “calcifies” if it doesn’t heal. This means that we become mistrustful of other people and fear opening our heart again to someone new.
Sometimes the loss and bereavement experienced after a breakup or divorce also comes with trauma. Trauma occurs particularly if the breakup was carried out in an unkind or abrupt way.
“Trauma can open us up to our childhood vulnerability.”
In a traumatic experience we experience a triggering of the childhood wounding – this means that our core beliefs – the negative subconscious beliefs we carry from the time we were very young, have been confirmed. For example if we have a belief “I am not loveable” or “I am not wanted”, a bad breakup will certainly trigger the wounding.
Lucy: I am fascinated by the idea of divorce causing trauma and reinforcing negative beliefs from childhood. Anyone who has experienced divorce knows how painful it is, but it’s interesting to have some science behind it.
Agnieszka: Yes, the pain can run deep. Any breakup, especially divorce, is psychologically perceived by the brain as a threat not only of safety but our existence.
It is experienced as a life and death matter.
This is why it can lead to traumatic experiences and this is why it is so difficult to deal with emotionally. Our brains are coded for safety and for living with what in the past was a tribe. These days we have our partners and our families. If our partner is leaving, a primal fear is triggered and we experience it emotionally as a threat to our safety, existence and also as a death.
Lucy: So when we experience trauma on top of the normal sadness of a breakup, the pain of divorce is intensified to levels that are much more damaging?
Agnieszka: Yes. When this happens the pain is intensified for sure! I have heard multiple stories (especially from women since I work with women mostly) of the hurt that has been held on for years often.
The situation is often worse when children are involved and the divorce process gets costly and complicated.
Lucy: Is there any advice based on what you have picked up on how to handle these difficult emotions?
Agnieszka: Frankly the best thing I have discovered that exists is a process called “Conscious Uncoupling” which is offered by Katherine Woodward Thomas coaches. Of course therapy can help and I have helped hundreds of people providing therapy for a variety of problems, but Katherine´s method is in my experience, the most effective and the quickest way to healing.
Lucy: We’ve all heard of Conscious Uncoupling! Did she come up with that phrase before Gwyneth?!
Agnieszka: Yes! She became known in the media because of Gwyneth Paltrow´s divorce. She and Chris Martin used her methods to navigate their divorce.
Conscious Uncoupling is a five-week program which is designed to ease individuals through the process of detaching from a relationship and readjusting to single life. The program focuses on breaking up as an opportunity for personal growth.
Conscious uncoupling does not eliminate negative emotions, pain, or heartache. But it can help people better reflect on who they are; engage in self-compassion; acknowledge what the relationship brought to them; and to look forward to new opportunities in the future.
Lucy: At divorce club we believe that it’s only when you feel complete and OK in yourself that you should even contemplate dating, but a lot of our members want to meet someone when they are still hurting from the last relationship. What is your take on that?
Agnieszka: I think it is a delicate and individual process. I agree that when you have just experienced a breakup it would be very difficult to jump into a new relationship straightaway. People sometimes do that to escape painful feelings.
However there are no shortcuts. We do need some healing.
What I would also say however is that contrary to popular belief, time does not heal! I would, of course, allow some time to process feelings but then I would go through the process described in Conscious Uncoupling. This is the best process I have found to deal with anger, resentment, and hurt.
We do not want to hold on to festering resentments and live in the narrative build on a victimised sense of self. Katherine Woodward Thomas´s approach simply snaps us out of that! It is, in a way, a psychological “shortcut” compared to traditional therapies.
Lucy: Aha! the “victimised self”. We see this a lot at DC. Particularly with people who have been left and who blame their partner for being a villain, without stopping to look at the relationship as a whole. How can people snap out of this black and white view?
Agnieszka: If we feel hurt, if we feel betrayed, disrespected, unheard, if we feel that we were not treated fairly, we are usually right!
But the problem with staying in the victimised narrative is that it does not allow for healing or growth and ultimately prevents us from welcoming new love.
“We need to ask ourselves some questions”
The pull toward the victimised narrative is usually very strong. The only approach which allows healing and growth is to ask ourselves:
“What was my role in the outcome of this relationship?”
“How did I contribute to what happened?”
And being able to look into the answers to these questions, we can find the keys to undoing our patterns that keep us from harmonious relationships.
For example, you might avoid conflict in your relationship for fear of a confrontation and a potential rejection or misunderstanding, and always agree with everything your partner suggests. If you conceal your needs, feelings and preferences, you will be not only inauthentic to yourself, but also your partner. And authenticity is a fundamental ingredient of a happy, lasting relationship.
Other examples might include denying our inner feelings, weak boundaries or lack of boundaries, or not even being able identify what we feel and need!
Lucy: It seems that the processes involved in overcoming trauma and those involved in being ready for a relationship overlap hugely. We sometimes meet people who are still in a lot of pain but believe the only way to feel better is to be in a new better relationship. Are there circumstances when this is true?
Agnieszka: It is true that good relationships are healing! So people who believe that they will heal in a new, better relationship are partly right!
However, if we are still in pain, there is work to be done before we enter a new relationship. That work includes firstly allowing ourselves to grieve and feel the pain however then address our role in how the pain was created.
“We can choose to be a victim or own our own part in the relationship”
Maybe we feel we have given up so much for our partner, gave all our love and sacrificed ourselves in return for a rejection? It’s possible to be stuck for years in the victim mode. We can choose either being a victim, or reflect on our role in the dynamics and the outcome of a failed relationship.
Perhaps we have given up so much in a relationship that we lost ourselves in it? Perhaps we stopped noticing what we need, what we feel, or have not asked them for help assuming that we should not even expect it?
All these subtle patterns are “hidden gold”. Once we are able to look at them, we can grow and choose to show up in a completely different way in life. We simply cannot achieve different results being still stuck in the victimised consciousness and repeating the same patterns we have always created in our love life.
“We can change ourselves!”
Being able to uncover and actively change our patterns is the inner work which is key to a change in our love identity – a change in the way we think, feel and act. It’s a change in how we show up with others.
As we show up in a new way, we now longer attract people who are not capable of forming a healthy relationship with us and are able to form healthy, harmonious bonds with the right person.
Lucy: So in a nutshell, how do we find lasting love in the future?
Agnieszka: The keys to finding love are within us, and not within the stories we have been telling ourselves. If we stop living in the victimised self, start taking responsibility for our actions or lack of actions, become clear on our boundaries, needs, feelings and life goals and start living from the consciousness of possibility and love (even if we have not yet experienced the love we desire!), then we open the portal to fulfilling love.
Lucy: How do you help people find love again?
Agnieszka: I focus on working with women who are determined to break down the old patterns and make the necessary shifts to welcome lasting love.
The process is often called miraculous as we see lots of miracles in our Calling in The One community! People breaking through their life long habits, showing up completely differently and attracting true love at the age of 40, 50, 60 or 70!
I work with individuals at the moment however am also creating a group coaching programme starting in a few weeks´ time. I offer an 8-week transformative programme which covers all the tools we need to remove obstacles to love and welcome a new, healthy relationship.
Since my website is under reconstruction it is best to email me on email@example.com or contact me via Welldoing at:
Parenting during divorce is no easy task when your co-parent is the one you are divorcing… Thankfully, more people are realising that this is a key area where people need support, so help is becoming increasingly available for struggling parents.
This means she works with parents on how they can bring up their children together, even though they are no longer in a relationship.
She has been co-parenting myself for nearly a decade and researching the methodology for nearly as long. She opened Rolling Stone Coaching for business a year ago and hasn’t looked back since.
We interviewed her for Divorce Club to see what nuggets of wisdom we could steal…
How did you get into Co-Parenting coaching?
Marcie: When my marriage broke down nearly ten years ago it was really tough. A friend of mine sent me a number for her coach. I didn’t even know what a coach was.
But I called the number.
I had life coaching for the first time in my life. And it changed my life. I became more sure footed, was able to be more confident in my decisions and have more fun. And I became a stronger person.
Basically when my world felt like it was falling down around me, coaching helped me get up, dust myself off, and start again. During the years that followed my career in the diplomatic sector flourished, and I always always carried with me the tools I learned through coaching.
When I then retrained as a coach I realised that I could fill the gap of what I didn’t have when I was divorcing, someone to help me navigate the difficulties of shared parenting including finding my inner strength and knowing what my boundaries were. I also use my diplomatic negotiating skills in my work and I hear what is not said. This makes the methodology unique and successful.
Why is there a need for it?
Because it’s really too easy to lose sight of what’s happening for the kids when you’re getting divorced or separating.
We can be in emotional turmoil, angry, devastated, frustrated and managing such big emotions makes it harder for us to see where we are needed. We might be fighting with our ex, using our kids as bargaining collateral, we might be withholding access.
All of these things happen not because we want to damage our children, but because we want to get at the person that we no longer want to be with.
Unfortunately, it’s always the kids that this impacts on. And the impact of these actions, even if they are for a relatively short time period, can last a lifetime. They can impact on how your children form their own relationships, how they show up in society, their anger management, their confidence and so much more.
Learning how to parent transactionally and together massively reduces the negative impact and helps your child grow up in a whole and functional way.
Can children of divorce really be OK if the parents navigate it sensibly?
Simply, yes they can absolutely be ok. At Rolling Stone Coaching, we are realistic and honest with parents. Children with divorced parents will never experience the full bubble of parental safety.
But parents who work together to keep their child safe, will see their child held and ok. Acknowledging to your kids that it’s not easy going from house to house where rules and the relationship system differ goes a long way to making your child feel heard. If your child feels heard and ok to say when things aren’t working or when things are hard, then you are succeeding in your co-parent relationship.
What are some of the common pitfalls of parenting during a divorce?
There are a few things that I see time and time again. Communication with each other is the biggest potential trap to fall into. Communicating by email and text often creates misunderstandings. We can think someone is being angry when they are being humorous. Problems can escalate so quickly if we perceive someone to be acting in a way that they actually aren’t.
Getting your child to choose. Often parents think they are being open and collaborative when they ask a child to choose who they want to go and spend Christmas with this year for example. But the outcome of this is usually inner turmoil for the child.
You see, your children aren’t choosing to divorce you, they want both of you. They can’t and should never be asked to choose. They love you both. Parents need to be parents, and make fair and strong decisions that means that their children can be children.
Can you really make a difference if only one parent chooses to work with you?
Yes. If you think about it as a triangle. Parent one, Parent two and the Relationship are the three points of that triangle. Imagine that only one parent wants to make a change. Perhaps they are feeling that they can’t deal with the confrontation, or are unable to hold their boundaries. When I work with that parent, they way they behave changes, and because they are different they interact differently.
When they interact differently, the shape of the triangle has to change. It doesn’t mean that the other parent will suddenly become collaborative, but it does mean that the parent who is doing the work will be able to hold a safer space for the children, be more secure in how they show up, and be able to demonstrate good practice.
Usually I hear from parents that there has been a shift in how the other shows up and that they get a lot closer to working together. It’s not a magic wand. It takes work. And it may be hard work.
Tell us a bit about how your programme works.
I work with one or both parents, face to face or on the phone or Skype. I take each parent through the Co-Parent Way method, and it’s around 7-9 sessions each.
At the beginning (sometimes) and at the end (always) I have both parents in the room or on the same call. Both parents sign off on a co-parent charter on how they approach their parenting. The Co-Parent Way also acknowledges that we are not just parents, that all parts of our life interlink with each other.
So the coaching looks at parents as whole people, their work, their life balance etc whilst showing the impact of all those things on how they show up in their parenting and co-parenting.
The reality of life now is that blended families are more and more common, aren’t they? What are the upsides to getting it working really well?
Messaging and boundaries. So all members of the same family having a message board if you like, which means they are telling the ‘original’ children the same thing in an age appropriate way. So you don’t get one side bad mouthing the other.
The workshop work we do at Rolling Stone Coaching, means that messaging comes from a place of keeping the original children safe and not one-upmanship on the other family. Boundaries too, so fewer emails, better systems in place, not turning up unannounced etc, not walking into the home if you’re not invited in. All of these things and so much more help respect the other family and hold the boundaries.
At DC we meet a LOT of people who are having trouble seeing their children because their ex is making it very hard either by being erratic with dates or manipulating the children into refusing to see their ex. What words of advice would you offer the fathers? The mothers?
Unfortunately, this is far too common. And it’s important to say that the parents who are being denied access to their kids will need some tools in their tool belt to be able to deal with this. Coaching is a good way of achieving that.
Advice to the parent who can’t see the kids? Consistency. Keep being present if you can. Send daily messages to your kids if they have a phone, telling them you love them. Not emotionally charged messages, just simple one. ‘Good night, daddy loves you,’ will eventually reach them.
Advice to the parent withholding the kids? You’re slowly breaking the thing you love most in the world: your children. It’s about perspective, and getting help to see other perspectives will help your kids flourish.
Do you like your job?
It’s not a job, it’s a life’s work. And I’m privileged to work with so many courageous people.
“My boys can’t do football because their Dad refuses to take them on his weekends”
“He just drops in whenever he wants. I know it’s great for the kids but I can’t plan anything and I can’t get over him because I don’t have any space”
Sadly, these and countless more examples of post divorce parenting nightmares are things we hear at Divorce Club all the time.
Parenting blues are common themes at our meetups
Divorce Club was set up to be a place online and in the real world where divorcees can meet and chat to each other to lessen the emotional burden of divorce. As people turn up to gee each other along or share their woes, talk of children comes up time and time again.
It’s heart breaking to hear some of the stories and as someone who has been privy to lots of them, I’d like to offer a few tips for parents who are in the throes of divorce based on the experiences of those that have done it. Names and stories have been altered.
What Divorce Clubbers learned the hard way about parenting after divorce
1. If your partner has been unfaithful, don’t withdraw access to the children to punish them
We hear time and again from people (almost exclusively men) who have been denied access to their children after infidelity. This can take the form of the custodial parent messing around with the diary – cancelling weekend access, being late or pretending the children are sick.
Even worse, some angry spouses even tell their children about their parent’s infidelity in order to become the injured party and drive a wedge between their kids and the other parent. Thus stopping the children from wanting to see them.
If you are tempted to do this, please, please don’t. Feelings of pain and betrayal after infidelity are understandable but you do not need to inflict these on your children too. They will also feel hurt and betrayed, but also have extraordinarily difficult conflicting feelings. After all they are the flesh and blood of your ex’s and he or she is part of who they are.
Also try to remember that your ex may have been a lousy partner, but it doesn’t mean they are a lousy parent. Parents love their children and the children have a right to that love even if it’s from a flawed human being.
2. Do not try to poison your children against your ex
Frank hasn’t seen his children in 18 months. He is a wreck. His wife has told his teenage girls about his flirting with someone from work and now they refuse to see him.
Amit had to go to court to clear his name after his ex accused him of assault.
Amy had to move her children from their school after her husband told all the school parents lies about things she had said about them, making her and the children’s lives unbearable.
No matter what a rotten scoundrel your ex is, please don’t try to ruin their lives, either by making their lives difficult or poisoning your kids against them. It hurts everyone in the long run. You might want your ex to suffer, but your children will suffer too.
Remember your children love both of you, however misguided that may be! It’s natural and you should allow that love to flourish even if your own has withered.
3. If you can resist venting against your ex now, it can pay off in buckets later
John and Marilyn mutually decided to split after years of relationship ups and downs and arguments. They hoped they could be civil, but they hadn’t managed to get through the last year without frequent bouts of shouting and cross words.
John didn’t trust Marilyn any more, didn’t massively like her and just seeing her often made him angry, but he always recognised that she was a brilliant mum to their kids.
During their handovers he bit his tongue again and again – not always – but he fought to avoid rows as much as possible.
Now they still wind each other up but view each other as friends and have even been on a family holiday together. The children have come through the divorce balanced and healthy with minimal suffering.
Biting your tongue now can really lead to a more positive and happy relationship later. After all, you’ve decided to split so what’s the point in unloading any more home truths now. It’s only going to make things worse.
Concentrate on the smoothest transactions possible from now on, and eventually the angry feelings will recede into the past, and possibly lead to a more positive relationship.
4. Create a minimal contact period if you can – ask family and friends to help
Shelina and Rajat are newly divorced and she is determined to let him have as much access to the children as she can.
However his constant popping in without notice over the last few months has given her no space to grieve and move on from her relationship. He is constantly in her space.
Striving to make sure your kids have full access to Mum AND Dad is a wonderful goal.
However, it can be very difficult to go straight from being married to a co-parenting relationship without having some space in between.
Easier said than done when your ex is popping around all the time to see the children.
Try to create a bit of space for yourself during the period of transition. Ask for a bit of notice before your ex comes and get family and friends to occasionally be there to do handovers for you.
Perhaps the visiting parent can take the children out, or meet on neutral ground instead of coming into the home.
Explain to your ex that this is not an act of hostility, but just a bit of space for you to help you move on. When you feel stronger about seeing them, you can start to be more present again.
5. Your children grow up, and then they will make their own minds up
Think to the future!
If you deny your kids access to a beloved parent or tell them things about your ex that aren’t true, sooner or later your chickens are going to come home to roost.
Children grow up and make their own minds up.
They also mellow with age. What can seem very black and white when young, becomes more nuanced when people get older.
When Mike got divorced, Carly only allowed him to see their children for 2 hours a week. She refused to communicate with him via phone or email, insisting on passing notes between them via the children.
He often only found out about key events in their lives long after they had happened. Hospital visits, achievements, failures.
One day his eldest son turned up on his doorstep, unannounced.
“I can see why you divorced her.”
Mike had always been very careful not to badmouth his ex to his children, despite his (very strong) feelings about the way she behaved.
He continued to exercise caution in the way he spoke about Carly, but gradually found that his eldest son was making up his own mind about things and wanted to hear his father’s side of the story.
Carly will have to work hard to regain the trust and respect of her son, who is now deeply suspicious of his mother. This could have been so easily avoided if she had been more open to allowing her children to have a better relationship with their father from the get go.
6. How you treat your ex is modelling relationships to your children
Your relationship with your ex is a demonstration to your children of how key relationships work. This is the model they will learn.
They learn how men speak to women and vice versa.
They learn about how conflict works in relationships.
They learn whether manipulation or control is a tool in relationships – or aggression.
Think about the person you want your children to be when they grow up. How do you want them to treat people and be treated? You may not be able to control your ex’s behaviour but you can control your own and be a brilliant role model to your kids.
Similarly, keeping both parents in your life gives your children a chance to learn from both of you. If your ex is flaky or has some less than endearing qualities, don’t be too quick to despair. Children can learn useful lessons from less than perfect behaviour, like resiliance, the ability to question adults and coping skills.
7. Go out of your comfort zone and do things together if you can.
At Divorce Club we know a few parents who really gritted their teeth and did the last thing they wanted to – spent time with their ex and children all together.
We don’t recommend doing this a lot because you also need your space and time to get over the end of the relationship.
However, being able to spend time as a family on occasions is something that can have enormous benefits long term.
Almost a year after they decided to separate, Alice and James went on holiday together with the children and James’s new partner. Alice and his new partner got on well but it was a bit weird all the same. James and Alice mostly got on OK with one or two small arguments, but the children enjoyed them all being together.
After the holiday, everyone agreed that perhaps it was a bit too soon and not entirely successful.
However, having done it once, the family did end up spending more free time together and eventually going on group holidays with other friends and family together, and enjoying it much more.
Nick and Evalina tried to have an amicable divorce even though they weren’t getting on very well. But Nick often turned up to DC meetups telling us about the day they’d just had out together with their little girl. She loved it when they all spent time together.
His take on it was that it wasn’t his choice but he was happy to see how thrilled his little girl was. He was willing to keep it up for her sake.
Things haven’t changed much in the meantime, but what he has a is a very rich and happy relationship with his daughter, which he feels is worth the slightly awkward time with his ex.
8. Don’t move away straight after divorce
Several people at our meetups have to commute over a hundred miles to see their children because their partners moved away as soon as they could.
Obviously, you have to do what is right for you and your family and often finances dictate where you live. Living in the London area is very expensive. However, it makes it much harder for children and parents to have a loving, stable relationship when they are so far away.
Plus, if you have your ex not too far away and can develop a better relationship over time, you will find that it can be useful to have someone else to help when childcare emergencies happen.
9. Be careful what you hide from your adult children – they usually find out the truth
Marie divorced her alcoholic husband but didn’t want her adult children to find out about it. Her rationale was that it was up to him to tell them. In the meantime she wanted to shield them from the sad truth.
Eventually they found out for themselves, but rather than support her, they were angry with her for lying to them. It was a blow to them about their father and they felt that their mother should have been upfront with them so that they could have all supported each other.
Whether or not you side with Marie or her kids, be careful what you chose to reveal or not reveal to your children. This is especially true if it is something that several other people know about. These things have ways of coming out into the open.
10. Children want to love both their parents. Let them.
That’s it. If there’s one rule to rule them all – it’s this one.
Is online dating the best way to find love? According to the founder of the biggest Chinese dating site, there is no “offline” dating any more in China. It’s considered odd to approach a stranger in real life. Everyone is looking for someone online. In the UK, 20% of relationships now begin online and 11% of the nation does online dating. Will offline (or organic, as I like to call it) dating become a thing of the past as more of the so-called iGeneration begin to date? And what effect will this have on our relationships?
Although there have been numerous discussions about the possible negative effects of social media usage and screen time, there is not yet robust evidence to support this. (See, for example, here and here for the effects on young people, who use it the most.) Human being are very adaptive and most of us are able to utilise the benefits of technology to our advantage whilst still having plenty of face to face interactions.
For us busy divorcees, we need to maximise the efficiency of our free time, but we also need social interaction and support. It’s definitely good to get out and meet people in the first few months and years after separation, and groups of people rather than one to ones can be good for our mood, for comparing notes, getting things in perspective, developing new interests, and building new friendship groups. The opportunities now you’re single are endless! Meeting someone who shares your interests and values are also increased this way. Over a two year period, Mike joined a French class, a choir, and learnt to salsa dance – all good places to meet women – and made new friends and went on some dates as a result.
But there is also an argument for the efficiency of online dating, in terms of simply playing a numbers game. As long as you can filter out the baddies and the ones that are incompatible with you, and are prepared to keep persevering, it can be a good way to meet people you’d be very unlikely to meet in real life. Mike wanted to supplement his new social life with some online dating to try and meet more women looking for the same things as him. At first, Mike wasn’t getting many messages online and he didn’t feel much of a connection with the women he did meet. Over time, he learnt more about which sites to use, how to filter, how to write a profile that gets women’s attention, and how to make the dates more meaningful. With help from Rachel New, London Dating Coach and member of the Divorce Club, he became aware of the psychology behind online dating and how to use findings from research to improve his dating behaviour.
There are a number of psychological processes at work in online dating – such as the illusion of choice, buyer’s remorse, treating it like shopping, and so on – that can help you be more aware of what’s going on. There are also lots of quick tips that can help you, based on research – such as how long your messages should be and what they should be about.
If you want to find out more about the psychology of online dating, come along to a free t in Crystal Palace on the psychology of online dating, given by Rachel New. By helping you understand the psychological processes described above and giving you lots of fascinating facts about what works in dating, you’ll improve your dating experiences.
There will be activities and a chance to get to know other people, and you can ask all your burning questions!
Most people have been touched by infidelity in their lives, whether it be directly, or as the family or friend of someone who has had an affair. It is estimated that roughly 30% to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage.
Affairs are common and people have been having them for as long as marriage has been around. But the reaction to someone having an affair is often one of harsh judgement.
So if you are having an affair and asking yourself “should I end my marriage?” how do you make the decision?
Where do you turn if you want advice?
Confiding or getting advice during an affair is nigh on impossible because (a) your affair is a secret and (b) the moment you admit to your situation, your confidante will have strong opinions about what you are doing. Even if you speak to a friend who can listen without judging, you cannot really know what the response will be until it is too late, and it is frightening putting your secret into someone else’s hands.
Here at Divorce Club, we neither condone nor condemn people who are unfaithful.
The bottom line is that people are flawed and fallible. We make mistakes. There are so many reasons for relationships to hit a rocky patch and there are so many ways we can cause hurt to our husband or wife. An affair is just one way to hurt someone else amongst others like ignoring a spouse, intimidation, controlling behaviour, taking someone for granted, never prioritising your partners’ needs, addiction to substances, work, the internet… and many other examples.
Given how difficult it is to find a sympathetic ear, you may be feeling very alone and under pressure to decide what to do next. Most people do not intend to have affairs. How or why they start varies massively from person to person, but once an affair is underway it can incite a lot of powerful emotions including guilt, excitement, happiness, a sense of being alive again or ignited, and self-loathing.
You want to keep the good feelings but get rid of the guilt and self-loathing and the obvious way to do that is to leave your marriage because the feelings you want to get rid of are associated with the spouse you feel guilty about and the vows you feel unhappy about breaking.
All the positive feelings are associated with the new person in your life, excitment, connection, intimacy, lust, a sense of you both against the world – star crossed lovers.
So should I leave my marriage to be with my lover or end the affair?
How do you weigh up one against the other?
You and your spouse have history, a connection (perhaps lost at present), possibly children. You may still love your spouse. Yes – it is possible to love two people at once. Before you throw out your marriage, make sure it is the right thing to do. Not because ending a marriage is necessarily wrong (we are the Divorce Club after all), but because you might be ending your marriage for the wrong reasons and come to regret it.
Although a marriage often can’t survive the aftermath of an affair, those couples that do stay together after infidelity often report being stronger than ever before, being more understanding of each others’ needs and enjoying a rekindling of former passion and intimacy. Could this happen to you? Would you want it to?
How do you know if you should leave your marriage?
Try to set aside to do some thinking rather than getting caught up with the whirlwind of emotions. Not easy, but try.
When you think about your spouse or long term partner versus the new person who has entered your life, try to compare like with like. Remember when you first met your spouse, you probably also had strong, intoxicating feelings for them too. Remember what it was about your spouse that you fell in love with. Often people have affairs with people who are a bit like their spouse USED TO BE. Even if your new partner wanted to settle down for a lifetime with you, what would a few years of living together do to your relationship?
Research has shown that of people who marry their lovers after an affair, 75% will divorce. Will you be in the 25% or the 75%?
Think about why you are having the affair.
There are so many reasons to have affairs and covering them all is beyond the scope of this article. But more often than not it is because a certain need isn’t being met in your marriage. Here are a few things to consider:
Were you bored?
Had your sex life dried up?
Were you feeling ignored or neglected?
Did children come along and push you or your spouse away?
Did you ask your spouse for something and have your request denied/ ignored leaving you feeling unloved?
Did you feel unloved?
Did you feel disrespected?
Did you feel like you and your spouse had nothing in common?
Did you or your spouse stop finding each other attractive?
Were money problems causing you or your spouse to pull away?
Was there verbal or physical aggression?
Is there an issue with mental health?
Is there an issue with addiction?
Was there a death of someone near to you or your spouse that caused a rift in the relationship?
Are there overbearing family members that make you feel unrespected or marginalised?
Think about the difficulties in your marriage and try to separate out the things that could be made better versus the things that probably can’t. Ask yourself whether you have given your spouse a fair chance to fix these things. Imagine a future where you were together and things were better. How would you get to that point? Is it possible that you could? What would he or she have to do to to help make it happen?
If you think you may end the marriage so that you can be with the person you are having an affair with think about what needs they fulfil. Do any of these needs overlap with your marriage? If you were to leave your spouse for your new love, are there any needs that might not be met in your new relationship? Very few long term relationships are trouble free. You just have to pick the troubles you are happy to work through!
The honeymoon period goes on and on in an affair, but once you transition from affair to relationship, you have the same difficulties as any other couple. You may even find that you bring exactly the same problems to this partnership because of behaviour that you repeat from your last relationship.
Thinking about children
When you have children in a marriage, the stakes are a lot higher.
Ultimately children flourish best in a stable and happy home environment whether that be a happy marriage or an amicable divorce. An acrimonious divorce is the worst possible outcome for them.
For this reason you might want to think carefully about how much you reveal if you stay in or leave the marriage. For many people an affair is a deal-breaker, the end of a marriage or partnership because of the betrayal of trust and the sheer difficulty of getting over the thought of you sleeping with someone else. Whatever your spouse may or may not have done to make you look elsewhere could be swiftly overlooked as they take on the role of victim. Sadly, society is complicit in this and affairs can quickly reduce two people in a marriage to the roles of villain and victim.
But not everyone thinks in black and white. Some partnerships are stronger than they look and some people have the emotional capacity to work through an affair, taking a long hard look at what has caused the rift in the marriage.
If this happens to you and your spouse, your affair could actually be a positive turning point in the marriage. But there will be some soul searching ahead and you will probably have to work hard to show that you can be trusted – being open with your communications and your whereabouts accounted for.
Should I leave my marriage? A question too big to resolve on your own?
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for you to talk to someone if you are weighing up leaving your marriage for someone else. Think very, very carefully who that person is though. Your best option if you can afford it, is to speak to a therapist – either a counsellor, a psychologist, a psychotherapist or a relationship coach. They will keep your information confidential and should not be partisan or judgemental. They can help you explore things that may give you some clarity over whether you should leave your marriage or not.
Divorce can lead to a happier life and give you an opportunity for a fresh start. But divorce after an affair can be particularly acrimonious and have devastating effects on your friendships, family and children. If you leave your marriage for a new partner, the devastation will all be brought into your new relationship so you and your new partner will need to be prepared for a rocky start. The statistical chance of surviving is low and so you stand to lose a lot. Know this and be prepared for it.
If you were hoping this article would give you the answer and instead it’s just given you more questions – that’s because only you can make this decision! But the questions above should give you some food for thought and clarity, which can be deepened by talking to a professional about your dillemma.
Whatever you decide, good luck in your fresh start – either in your marriage or outside it.
The case of Owens Vs Owens could potentially change how divorce is done in the UK. When Tini Owens filed for divorce from her husband Hugh Owens, she did not suspect that her divorce would be one of the 1% that are declined by the court.
Having been married for nearly 40 years, she decided to leave her husband and file for divorce on the grounds of “Unreasonable behaviour”. She cited a numerous 27 examples of unreasonable behaviour but the judge was having none of it. Even more unusual is that her divorce petition was also rejected by the court of appeal who astonishingly said, that her husband’s behaviour was “to be expected in a marriage” and that “parliament has decreed that it is not a ground for divorce that you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage”.
Tini Owens’ next step is to take her case to the Supreme Court where her lawyers will argue that Ms Owens should not have to prove her husband’s unreasonable behaviour at all.
Hugh Owens does not want a divorce and says that they should be enjoying the last years of their life together, despite the fact that they have been living apart for nearly 2 years.
The grounds for divorce
Under English law, you must be married for at least one year before you can divorce, and you can only divorce for one of 5 reasons:
Separation for 2 years and no party contesting the divorce
Separation for 5 years (no consent for divorce is required)
In the case of adultery and unreasonable behaviour, you must blame your spouse, which means that they are allowed to contest your claims. Most don’t contest the allegations, but if they do, the plaintiff must then prove that their spouse was unreasonable or committed adultery AND that they find it intolerable to live with their cheating husband or wife.
Over half of divorces are sought on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour but over 27% of the plaintiffs admit that the unreasonable behaviours cited were trumped up just to make sure that the divorce went through quickly.
Lawyers and the public want “no-fault” divorces
Lawyers have been petitioning since 1990s for “no-fault” divorces and many other countries including the USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand all have no-fault divorces.
Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, found that nine in 10 family practitioners think the law should be modernised to include no-blame divorces. Margaret Heathcote, Resolution’s national chair, said: ‘It is ridiculous that, in the 21st century, Mrs Owens has had to go to the highest court in the land in order to try to get her divorce. Resolution will be at the Supreme Court next month as interveners, showing our support for Mrs Owens and countless others like her who are either trapped in a loveless marriage and unable to get on with their lives; or forced to assign blame in order to do so. It’s outdated, it’s unfair and it’s time for things to change.’
Another problem we encounter at Divorce Club is that there is a lot of misunderstanding about blame and divorce. Many of our member believe that it is advantageous to be the ones filing for the divorce and thus doing the blaming, as they think that this will make the financial settlement more generous in their favour. This is not true. The financial statement and the custody is separate from the divorce petition.
Our members at Divorce Club also cite how unhelpful it is to have to blame someone at what is already a difficult time. Several members actually reported arguing over who should be filing for divorce and found that it made discussions around financial settlements and custody get off on the wrong foot.
One common misconception that we encounter at Divorce Club is that it is advantageous to be the ones filing for the divorce and so blaming their partner, as they think that this will make the financial settlement more generous in their favour. This is not true. The financial statement and the custody is separate from the divorce petition.
Marriages end all the time and in nearly all cases, both parties are to blame, and at the same time, no one is to blame. The truth is that people grow apart, and that we all have flaws which means that we do make mistakes. The compassionate divorce is one where both can say that they entered the marriage with love and the best intentions, but that the years of happiness are over. A no-blame divorce would make it easier for couples to thank each other for the good times and wish each other luck with the next chapter of their lives.