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A Heartless Bitch's Guide to Divorce

How to get through it with style and aplomb, when your beloved drops the bomb


"I want a divorce."

After you've heard those words, how you react will make the difference between moving past it successfully or being stuck with the baggage and unresolved feelings for a very long time.

You may (really?) or may not be surprised when your spouse finally utters those words. It's OKAY to be angry, it's okay to cry, yell and express your disappointment as long as you're not being destructive to yourself, your soon to be ex, family, friends or property. Tempting as smashing his beloved motorcycle might be, being destructive will only make matters worse and probably come back to haunt you.

Find a way to express what you are feeling in a constructive manner. Talk to family and friends, write, cry, play loud music. If you have to release your anger in a physical manner, take up kick-boxing, tear up an old phone book page by page, or take a baseball bat to an old mattress - get that anger out or you'll end up wallowing in it for much longer than you need to. Just make sure that if you have kids, that as much as is humanly possible, you aren't releasing your anger in front of them.

Now, step back a take a breath. Come up with a plan on how to proceed. There are three things that should be your priority right now, your physical, emotional and financial health. And for God's sake, don't be embarrassed; even Heartless Bitches get dumped (we just know how to handle it, and we don't take it as a personal hit to our self-worth).

We all cope with stress and loss differently. Find a constructive outlet for your feelings. Talking about it is always good whether it's with family, close friends or a professional counselor. Be creative until you find what works for you. I put up a little story on a website, a love story of sorts. It was very therapeutic.

Talking about what a shit your ex is to more casual mutual friends or your mutual children simply isn't a good idea and will only make you look desperate and vindictive. Save this kind of venting for your closest and most trusted friends (and/or the BitchBoard, if you happen to be a member of HBI). It is ok to let your kids know you are hurt and angry, but talk about it in terms of how you are dealing with YOUR feelings. Don't name-call, swear at, or personally attack their other parent.

Treat your soon to be ex like a business associate (well one that you don't like very much or had screwed you over in the past). Your communication should be about legal matters, child/children issues, living arrangements until things are finalized, etc. If you must tell your ex what you think of him/her, you may want to keep in mind a couple of things, it won't change anything, and he/she probably won't really hear you anyway. Believe me, I tried it and my dog showed more signs of comprehension than my ex did.

If your ex quickly gets involved with another person, or IS involved with another person (hence the request for a divorce), it can make matters even uglier. While it is natural to be hurt and angry (especially if the affair started BEFORE the request for the divorce), it is important to NOT get involved with or contact the other party. For God's sake, don't go storming off to his/her place and start screaming and yelling at them. Not only will you come off looking like a lunatic, you might well get yourself arrested. Heartless Bitches deal with this kind of thing with style and dignity. I personally found that writing about the appalling behavior (in the form of a story) was much more satisfying and I didn't have to deal with or mention individuals by name.

If for some reason, the "other person" feels the need to contact YOU, the conversation should go like this . . .

"Hi, this is Laka Morralls"
"The skanky biker ho you referred to on your website [see constructive outlets above]
"I have a few things I'd like to say to you."
"And I have absolutely nothing to say to you." -click

That will usually put a stop to it - but if not, be prepared to take whatever (legal) steps are necessary to ensure that this person does not contact, bother or harass you.

Having a conversation with the person your spouse left you for serves absolutely NO purpose. Regardless of whether you think this person "stole" your spouse or not (and I'd say not, people in healthy, happy relationships don't cheat) keep things strictly between you and your ex. This is your divorce and really has nothing to do with any third party, period.

A little list of some DOs and DON'Ts when it comes to the legal aspects . . .

DO consult an attorney. You may or may not decide that hiring one is necessary but for your sake, inform yourself. Get the facts on the divorce laws in your state/country. Understand exactly what you are entitled to by law. It ultimately doesn't matter if you were dumped under the worst of circumstances; there is no such thing as punitive divorce (at least not here in CA). The law doesn't care who did what to whom. The sooner you decide to proceed from a legal standpoint when it comes to asset division, the more likely you will reach a quick and equitable financial agreement (and save lots of attorney fees).

DO take time to revise and review your Last Will and Testament. If you have a Will, be sure to revise it as quickly as possible - in some jurisdictions, if your will still refers to your spouse and you are legally separated or divorced when you die, then you die intestate (the entire will is invalidated). This can cause HUGE financial problems to your heirs and enormous delays in dealing with your estate. In any case, if you have a will, you may have your ex as your executor and power of attorney (or power of medical attorney). These are things you will likely want to change immediately.

DON'T try to win your spouse back through concessions. Here's a good piece of advice I got from an attorney, don't laugh, it happens. "DON'T be nice or give-in/give-up assets that you are entitled to (and likely worked hard for) because you think by doing so, your spouse will realize what a nice person you are and come back."

The fact is that you bought that house/car/property or made those investments as a couple, both working to achieve some financial security. Don't be foolish and give it up now. Keep your emotions out of it when it comes to your financial situation. Look toward your future.

DO be willing to compromise. Just because you are legally entitled to it, doesn't mean you'll get it without a fight. Examine your assets; determine what you are entitled to and what you are willing to give up in exchange for something else. E.g., getting a larger percentage of the proceeds on the sale of your house in trade for your interest in a stock portfolio might be a good idea. You get extra cash upfront and avoid the tax implications of liquidating assets.

DON'T use your kids as pawns and bargaining chips. The lowest thing you can do is demand sole custody simply because you want to punish your ex for the affair, or because you want more support payments. Unless their health and safety is at risk, the kids need the involvement of BOTH parents in their lives and you should look to joint or shared custody wherever possible. Do what is really right for the KIDS and put your own feelings of anger and resentment aside.

DO get all agreements in writing. Even in the most amicable of separations, things can change. (Oddly enough this happens most frequently when the ex spouse takes up with another partner.) If your ex appears to be reasonable today, do NOT assume that he will continue to be reasonable 1, 2 or even 5 years down the road.

DO contact your bank IMMEDIATELY and close off any "joint" accounts. This includes putting holds on lines of credit, or any other joint forms of credit, and/or ensuring that BOTH parties have to sign before additional credit can be drawn. Have your name removed from joint credit cards or have them suspended. Apply for credit cards and bank accounts in your own name if you don't already have them.

And just some plain old good advice . . .

If possible, remove yourself from the same physical space. If not, set up (and stick to) boundaries for sharing the living space. Remove anything that is personally important to you. Pack up personal items and/or important papers and put them in a safe place.

Perhaps the most difficult and the most liberating step is to get excited about your future. Start looking at the possibilities. What are the things you stopped doing or wished you had more time to do? Is there someplace you always wanted to visit but your spouse didn't? Always wanted to paint that room magenta? My advice: GO FOR IT. Life is about possibilities and right now, anything is possible.

Copyright© Heartless Bitches International (heartless-bitches.com) 2002, All Rights Reserved

Copying or reproduction (in whole or in part) on any medium (such as in print or on the web) is expressly forbidden without written permission from HBI

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