In this blog post, Karen McMahon, Divorce coach discuss the ins and outs of divorce, and provide you with the resources you need to rebuild your life after a divorce. Many people believe that divorce is the end of the world, but that’s not necessarily the case.
In this episode, we’re going to discuss the steps you need to take in order to rebuild your life after a divorce. We’ll cover topics like financial planning, communication strategies, and rebuilding your relationship with your children. If you’re struggling after a divorce, don’t worry! This podcast is designed to help you on your road to rebuilding your life after divorce.
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Karen McMahon is a certified relationship and divorce coach and the founder of Journey Beyond divorce. Together Karen and her team of divorce coaches encourage thousands of men and women worldwide to navigate their divorce calmly, clearly and with confidence. Karen began her journey as a coach in 2010 after coming to the realization that her tumultuous three and a half year divorce was a catalyst for a transformational journey into a new life, instead of allowing her pain to wear her down.
She turned inward with a laser-like focus and worked on healing herself, setting suitable barriers and surrendering what she could not control. Karen now shows others that the shifting world of divorce is a perfect opportunity to begin identifying and practicing new ways of thinking being and doing. Looking at relationship challenges with A New Perspective inevitably leads to deeper self-discovery, which allows individuals to boldly move forward in to the next chapter of Life.
Karen is the host of the acclaimed Journey beyond divorce podcast, the co-author of stepping out of chaos, turning pain to possibility and the co-creator of JBD’s exclusive 12-step divorce recovery program. Her other accomplishments include work as in NYS lobbyist Health Advocate, Community organizer and chairperson of an NYS non-profit organization.
Divorce is one of life ambushes
Myrna: I remember an interview that I had just a few weeks ago with retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman, who talked about, life ambushes, and one of the ambushes he talks about was divorce. Jason said that people when they have a life Ambush, they keep looking at the closed door. They don’t understand that whenever you have an end you also have a new beginning, so that’s where I’m going to start off my conversation today.
Karen said that she started this work after she went through her divorce and realized that it was a beginning of something, so Karen how do you teach your clients to turn the pain of the of divorce into a possibility?
Karen: That’s a great starting question and so the first thing I’ll say is there are those who ask for the divorce and those who find themselves blindsided when the divorce comes to them. So if you’re asking for a divorce, if you’re finally deciding that you want a divorce, you’ve been struggling in your marriage for a long time. You may have gone through counseling, but you’ve been on your own grief Journey for some time now and it’s still super messed up.
Then there is those who are blindsided, they knew the marriage had problems but every marriage has problems and so when their spouse says I want a divorce they’re like hit, they’re ambushed and it feels like they’re being run over by an 18-wheeler.
Divorce road map
So I always like to talk about the, grief Journey, because the person who’s ambushed is immediately in denial. Oh are you seeing someone? You’re just going through a midlife crisis, you’re just confused, this can’t be happening. They start bargaining, they go through this whole thing and a lot of people who have decided to divorce will think their spouse is being manipulative when in fact they’re really in this, grief Journey.
Myrna: I can understand you going into the possibilities of what can happen so diving a little deeper. What is the, roadmap for divorce, you coach your clients about the possibility of relationships, career, etc.
Karen: The roadmap for divorce, is like a roadmap to a destination with all the stops. I was just speaking to a client earlier today and this person knows they need to leave and so there’s so much to map out.
- When do I tell my spouse
- How do I tell my spouse
- What do we say to the kids
- When do we say it to the kids
- If it’s a high conflict marriage do I tell them individually
- Will mom or dad throw me under the bus and hurt the kids if I tell them together?
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The emotional load and emotional pain body are enormous. At Journey Beyond divorce, we support people both on the Practical Journey which is telling the spouse, telling the kids, finding an attorney, figuring out your finances, how do I negotiate, how does the court work.
Journey beyond divorce: co-parenting
That whole journey and as you’re going down that Journey, what’s coming up it’s like you’ve jumped into a murky Pond and all of your shortcomings, all of your insecurities, everything you need to heal from and refine comes bubbling up. So now you’re in an emotional tsunami after just being drop shipped into a foreign land called divorce, where you don’t know the language you don’t have a guide and you don’t know what the heck you’re doing.
It’s really a powerful opportunity for, personal transformation, and reinvention because basically it’s a hot mess.
Myrna: For sure, one of the things that you teach is how to do effective, co-parenting. So can we talk about that for a minute.
Karen: So in today’s day and age the majority of people get 50/50 custody and the reason is I think that to a large degree our dad’s a much more engaged. So when the decision is made and you might still be living under the same roof, it’s a good time to start saying let’s let’s experiment with this co-parent thing.
This is always hard for especially if it’s a stay-at-home mom or a stay-at-home parent, because you’re so used to this being all your division of labor. I want to talk about when co-parenting, and this is straight through the divorce, not only don’t you speak to your child about what’s wrong with their other parent they are 50 that other parent.
Never bash the other parent to your kids
So not only don’t you get on the phone with your girlfriend in the kitchen complaining about your soon-to-be ex while the kids are listening in the living room because they’re always listening and it does such incredible harm. I’m divorcing him because he wasn’t a good spouse or partner let’s not assume that means he’s not a good parent.
Myrna: I’m talking to you because I’ve never done the co-parenting thing and it sounds real complicated. I’m wondering does it benefit the kids?
Karen: A hundred percent. I work a lot in, high conflict divorce, and if you have a parent who has severe trauma, personality disorder, addiction, alcoholism etc. If you have a very, high conflict co-parent, the children are better spending more time with you. But children unless those people are dangerous it’s always valuable for kids to experience both parents on a regular basis.
If you have one, high conflict personality, it’s so vitally important that if you’re married to the, high conflict personality, I can guarantee you you’ve lost your temper. You’ve raged, you’ve been a people pleaser, a codependent, you don’t have boundaries, and you have to work on all of those things to become a whole and healthy person.
High conflict divorce
You can teach your children those skills so that they can navigate that, high conflict personality, you get to divorce them the children have to find the lanes that work for them. The safe places where they can really enjoy that, high conflict parent, and know that it’s not their responsibility to take care of mommy or daddy.
There’s one other piece that if I could talk about with co-parenting sometimes it was my experience a lot of people in a, high conflict divorce, sometimes the children come back from the other parent and and they’re upset, they’ve been put down, they’ve been ignored, they feel diminished, they don’t feel heard, they might not feel loved.
The worst thing that the mom can do is criticize their dad. It’s so vitally important if your child comes to you and they’re struggling with the other parent, ask a lot of questions.
- What happened,
- how did that make you feel,
- what did you do about it,
- what do you wish you could do about it,
- what were you afraid to do that you wished you could do about it,
- why are you afraid,
- how can I help you,
- how would you do it different next time,
- how do we help you be able to say to Daddy or to set a boundary?
Myrna: I was talking about how love turns to hates so quickly. If a divorce happens because irreconcilable differences or something along those lines where you’ve been you’ve been living for a while and it’s not working out you decide to divorce, but a lot of times, you’re calling it, high conflict divorce, I’m assuming that you’re meaning, high conflict, infidelity or you really hate your spouse male or female.
Mommy hates Daddy, mommy is gonna jump on that opportunity to bash that man, there’s absolutely no way that we’re gonna oh you know Daddy’s not a bad person.
What is a high conflict divorce?
Karen: Actually there are plenty of people who divorce and are angry and hate each other, that’s actually not, high conflict divorce. High conflict divorce, is when you’re divorcing someone who takes zero responsibility and I’ll say this because I think it’s important in today’s day and age everyone’s like oh you’re divorcing a narcissist.
I have a hard time with that, we’re not psychologists, we don’t know that, but what we do know is if you have someone who has very black and white thinking. Who always blames you and can’t take responsibility, who seems to have a different memory of almost everything that happened yesterday or in history. Who can’t sit down at the table and negotiate anything because they want everything or they’re always right you’re wrong.
These are personalities where a divorce isn’t is a negotiation, because negotiations require transparency and compromise. Most Garden variety divorces involve someone who hates the other one or who’s outgrown them and they’re not interested in them. But no matter how you feel about your ex please hear me it is never ever going to be valuable for you to tell your child how bad their parent is.
Taking off your armor and trusting after a divorce
Myrna: I agree with that totally. In my community women don’t even want the kids even to see the parent because they hate them so much. All right, now one of the other things we talk about is after the battle of the divorce, when the divorce is final, that women put down our weapons and take off our armor and start to trust again. How do we how do you teach women to become vulnerable again and trust again?
Karen: That is one of the most important questions and I hope that everyone listening that you can receive this. When our trust has been broken, it usually starts with us breaking our trust in ourselves, and what I mean by that is most of us will say I knew it. I saw the red flags and ignored them. I saw that characteristic in him but he was just so handsome and sexy, I ignored it.
So when you start rebuilding trust, don’t bash yourself, don’t criticize yourself don’t condemn yourself, for what you did. Be incredibly compassionate with yourself and start tuning in because our fear voices is this loud Amplified voice and our inner wisdom our intuition is this very soft whisper. When we can start tuning into the soft whisper and trusting our intuitive hit, our women’s intuition that is going to be the foundation of building trust.
Entrepreneurship and divorce
Myrna: A lot of people don’t think about going through a divorce when you’re an entrepreneur and you have a business or maybe even going a divorce in the corporate world. When you are not emotionally at your Peak everything falls around you like dominoes. So what are three ways of keeping your business running smoothly during a divorce?
Karen: So you want three okay so the first thing I’m gonna say is:
- The first one is you’re going through the largest transition of your life, you’re not going to be on your A game, so adjust your expectations. If you’ve got some enormous campaign that you’ve planned for this upcoming year and you’re going to be in the courts and juggling kids and becoming a single parent you’re basically setting yourself up to fail.
- The second thing is to realize what’s going on. When we’re going through divorce, life is busy and overwhelming for all of us. It’s almost like being on your computer and adding this huge database that’s going to download onto your computer you know when you download something it’s like every program slows down it gets really glitchy it just freezes that’s what’s happening in your brain.
- I’ll say like hiring a coach and a therapists because the do different things. A coach helps you both logistically and emotionally, a good attorney and you might need a financial plan; but on a personal level what is your All-Star support team look like?
Myrna: Karen this has been amazing, you have designed a 12-step divorce recovery program which sounds really great because what you’re saying is you’ve got to recover from this divorce.
Karen: We found that over the course of years we started looking at what are all of the typical emotional challenges that people face during and after divorce. So we created the 12 Steps around that and so the first one which would be a surprise to nobody is to curb the conflict, because no matter what kind of a divorce you have there’s going to be conflict. Let’s keep the focus on you and look at your behavior and here’s how you can do things differently.
Then we have another step that’s about calming the chaos. Most chaos during divorce doesn’t happen outside of you it happens between your ears, it’s your stinking thinking. So what are your assumptions, what are your interpretations, what are your limiting beliefs? We talk in the 12 Steps about becoming less problem focused and more solution focused. We talk about how to grieve and grieve well and the importance of feeling your feelings and so many more.
Each step is really helping someone pivot in one an area of their emotional experience of divorce.
Myrna: How can our listeners and those watching on TV get in contact with you? Talk about your website how they can get all the course?
Karen: We are Journey Beyond divorce on all platforms. It’s Journey Beyond divorce podcast, Journey_Beyond divorce on Instagram and if the high conflict part of the conversation resonates with you we just created a toxic quiz and it’s on the home page. It’s 10 questions and it gives you a really good sense of the health or lack thereof of your current relationship.