When the Next Step Is Scary

When the Next Step Is Scary

What if Your World Is getting Ready to Be Turned Upside Down

 

Ohhhh sexy girlfriend!!!!

Please tell me you’ve seen Sixteen Candles (if not see below)

If you haven’t seen this movie, I kindly request that you see it ASAP. You should stop whatever you’re doing right now… wait… nevermind.

*Watch it after you finish reading this post*

Is this blog post about Sixteen Candles… no, not really — allow me to connect some dots though.

You know Jake, right?

(From the movie, not State Farm.)

I was about 5 years old when Sixteen Candles came out and I saw it for the first time when I was about 12.

I’ve seen it at least 20 times since…

Half the time, after I watch Sixteen Candles, I Google Jake.

Why?

Because Jake was H-O-T (he was the guy in the red shirt btw) !!!

His real name is Michael Earl Schoeffling (in case you were wondering).

I know that Jake retired shortly after filming Sixteen Candles. He preferred carpentry, stability, and life outside of the spotlight. And, it appears, at least according to Wikipedia, he still prefers it that way.

So what’s my point?

Jake had a ton of potential to make it in Hollywood. In my opinion, he could have just stopped acting to be a Calvin Klein model – at least to allow me to continue to admire his beautifulness. (I know… selfish!)

However, he decided to go against the grain, follow his heart, and live life the way he wanted.

My lusting desires be damned!

Mic drop. Exit stage “left”. (see what I did there?)

So my point is this: 

It’s OK for you to CHOOSE to exit stage left of your unhappy marriage, despite the opinion of others.

It’s Ok to Prepare for Divorce Even If You’re Undecided

 

Many people decide to follow their passion, but they usually wait until they’re halfway through life – assuming they live to 100. 😉

Jake… lol… where are my manners — Michael, did it at the age of 29.

29!!

It didn’t matter that he “put in years” studying his craft.

It didn’t matter that he was a heartthrob and “people expected him to stay” in Hollywood.

It also didn’t matter that he could have potentially been more “financially sound” with an acting career versus being an owner of a woodworking store.

So if you’ve been WAITING to start living your life to the fullest, it’s ok to change the course now.

I recognize that this sounds a bit oversimplified but stay with me, please.

It’s possible that you’re unsure.

You’re worried about paying all the bills on your own.

You don’t want to feel guilty and explain things to your friends and family.

You’re concerned about how this will affect your kids.

All perfectly normal.

It’s not that I want your marriage to end – it’s just that I want you to be happier – like Jake. 😊

I want you to know that it’s ok to prepare for divorce even if you’re undecided.

Plus, guess what!

Preparing for it doesn’t mean you’re going to MAKE it happen. 

It simply means you’ll be ready IF it does. 

To give you a little needed nudge, I decided to prepare a digital resource called the Silent Preparation Series.

(Seriously, just now as I was writing this, I decided).

Drastic changes may or may not be necessary for your life.

However, I know that some of you have had it with the B.S.

Some of you are at the tipping point of the life you really want.

Listen to podcasts, listen to self-help books, hire a therapist, or a life coach. Do whatever you need to do to follow your heart.

Just DO. It may feel like you are turning your world upside down when in fact you are turning it right-side up.

I welcome you to stay tuned into the FIIRM Hero Library (where you are now) and learn about your options as you consider a separation or divorce. Hope to see you soon.

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

How to Get the Support You Need During a Divorce

How to Get the Support You Need During a Divorce

Rachel Hollis and her husband are divorcing.

 

I’m not a huge fan or foe… don’t worry.

If you’re wondering who the heck she is… don’t worry about that either 😉

She’s a big enough celebrity that there are thousands of responses to this news on social media. 

She recently announced on social media that she and her husband were splitting.

Harmless, right?

Here were some of the responses or typical responses when such an announcement is made:

“I really thought you two had it all together”😩

“You were my favorite couple”😶

“If you all can’t make it, there’s no hope for me” 😳

“Are you sure you can’t work it out” 🤬

“You seemed like you really loved each other” 🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️

You’re probably reading this thinking: OMG! This 👏 is 👏 not 👏 helpful‼ 

My thoughts exactly!

When someone announces their divorce, generally speaking, they are looking for support… again, that’s generally speaking…

This is probably not the kind of “support” Rachel Hollis was looking for!

Likely not what you’re looking for either‼‼

Unfortunately, a couple’s divorce often prompts us to respond with our hopes & aspirations for THEIR relationship.

We feel compelled to tell them how we feel, too!

Rachel didn’t do anything wrong, per se,  (it’s her business and her prerogative to post about), but let’s discuss how to prevent non-supportive responses as much as possible. 

 

How to get the right support during your divorce

The simplest way to get the support you need from your family and friends is to tell them how to support you AND how not to.

It sounds overly simplified but it’s an underutilized tool.

On the surface here’s what support sounds like:

“I wish you the best”

“Let me know if you need anything”

“I love you no matter what”

Because those responses don’t feel natural or normal to most of us, you may have to guide your inner circle in this direction. 

Here’s a script you can use:

“Hey(friend/family member name). I wanted to let you know that (Spouse Name) and I have decided to end our marriage. This is a very difficult decision and we still have a deep amount of (love, respect, concern, etc) for each other. 

I need your support in a major way right now and here’s what it looks like. I really need to know that you will be just as kind to him as you have always been. The best way you can help me and be there for me right now is by not asking questions about our process or questioning our decisions. I will share details as soon as I feel mentally ready, but right now I don’t have it in me. We both are doing the best we can for each other and the kids. 

If you’re unable to support me in that way, I completely understand, but just know that I will likely need to take some space away from anyone that can’t give me that right now. My final request is that you don’t say “you’re sorry”, bash (spouse name) in front of me or the kids, or tell me that you’re disappointed because I just can’t handle hearing that right now.”

I’m aware that this script assumes that your decision to end your marriage is mutual (eventually it will be) and also that your relationship is not overly hostile. 

This doesn’t have to be the EXACT script you use, but I promise something similar can work with people that truly care about you. 

This is what a modern mature divorce experience can look like.

You’re being specific and kind in your request while disarming some of their gut reactions. You’re also setting expectations and boundaries.  

Your family may still talk crap about you when you end the phone call but you can’t control that anyway, so who cares! 😂

If the person responds in a way that dishonors your request, then they may have to be cut out of your communication circle, at least for a little while. 

As the saying goes, when people show you who they are, believe them. 

 

Protect yourself during a divorce

While sharing your love during the good times is normal and feels amazing, be cautious about sharing your pain, anger, and disappointment as openly.

Here’s why…

As mentioned above, people feel inclined to tell you how they REALLY feel about your relationship & your soon-to-be-ex once you give them the space to do so.

The fastest way to open that door is by telling THEM (verbally or on social media) all the things you dislike about HIM.

While sharing your process and heartbreak on social media can be extremely cathartic, it can also be equally damaging. (For a safe way to share and receive support, see my “3’s company” comment below — keep reading!)

Not only does it invite a larger audience to give their perspective on YOUR divorce, but it can also be used against you in court. 

Trust! 

Any decent divorce attorney will tell you that’s in your best interest NOT to share intimate details about your divorce on social media or extended family/friends until it’s over. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a DM, private message, text, or a closed private Facebook group — a simple screen capture can cause your case a lot of harm. 

We all need someone we can trust and confide in during such a difficult process.

Here’s a tip:

3 is more than enough company when you’re going through a divorce. 

Find 2 true friends and 1 therapist. 

Divorce can be hard enough without worrying about judgment, disappointing others, and betrayal — keep that circle as tight as possible to protect your heart (and your case!). 🧡🧡

Rachel Hollis’s divorce announcement was open, encouraging, and balanced however unless you feel compelled, you may never need to make a similar PSA.

If you do feel the need to do so, make sure you’re ready for a couple of chinks in your armor. 

If you choose to share details about your divorce process along the way on social medial, just be very very careful.

Now you can share THIS post with someone that may need it whenever you want 😉😉!

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

Do You Speak His Divorce Language

Do You Speak His Divorce Language

Read this post when you’re ready to be strategic about your conversations with your soon-to-be-ex a.k.a “his a$$.”  😉

Share this post with someone that you know should be ready 🙂

It’s unnerving and uncomfortable to talk about how you’re going to split assets, but it’s necessary when you’re preparing to divorce.

Having the right money conversations early can often save you headaches and money during a divorce. 

If you’re looking for tools to help you manage your finances grab our
2020 Ultimate Financial Resource Guide.

We also recognize that fighting about things like custody sucks – but it’s common, and you want be ready. 

While there’s no true winner in a divorce, it’s for damn sure you don’t want to lose. 

Ultimately, we just want to make sure you’re prepared as much as possible. 

Upping your communication game can be a valuable tool when you’re preparing for divorce. 

 

Make Your Divorce Settlement Conversation Better, Not Worse

The most successful conversations occur when you’re aware of the personality, concerns, and communication style of the participants.

Before you begin any discussion or negotiation with your partner, start by asking permission. This can help bring down defenses. For example, “Is it ok if we start with…” can be a powerful question. 

We are not naive enough to suggest that your pending divorce is going to be smooth sailing because of our pointers, but we know that there are some key things to remember to reduce conflict. 

Here are a few notes to help you:

  1. Be respectful. Don’t interrupt your partner when they are speaking. (We know it’s HARD.) If you are worried that you might forget what you were wanting to say, take notes so that you can come back to specific points. 
  2. Establish the goal of the conversation before the discussion. Self-awareness is vital to having a successful conversation. You have to be aware of your goals and your vision. What would you consider a successful conversation? 
  3. Be patient with yourself and others. Take slow, deep breaths when you feel anxious or upset. When others become noticeably uncomfortable or begin to shut down, don’t push too hard, especially if you know your spouse typically struggles with difficult conversations. It’s ok to discuss topics in bite size pieces.
  4. Be mindful of your facial expressions and body language. He can see you rolling your eyes. 😉
  5. Be positive/optimistic as much as you possibly can. 

Here’s a good bottom line, a.k.a. a FIIRM approach: Be mindful of the way you communicate differing opinions. Affirmative tones can help keep defenses down and encourage genuine listening.  

Take a look at the conversation “CheckPoints” below.

How to use his Style to Your Advantage in a Divorce

When deciding what option to pick to communicate effectively with your partner, note that people often have primary or dominant personality traits. 

If you feel as if they have a primary and a very close secondary style, you can intertwine the communication notes for the respective categories.

Here’s a fun way to think about it. 

  1. Consider their “marine animal” personality
  2. Use their marine animal personality to change the way you communicate with your spouse about your divorce. 
  3. Replace your wallet picture of him with a picture of his dominant personality 😉

Marine Animal Personality Types:

Dolphin – Dolphins are the life of the party. They love to talk and are typically very expressive.

Strengths: See the possibilities in solutions. Makes quick decisions. Thrives on being around people. Animated expressions and often speaks loudly. 

Weaknesses: Less time-oriented. Can be seen as a dreamer. Easily bored with routine or becomes less productive when energy diminishes.

Shark – A shark is ultra-competitive and often aggressive. They enjoy being in charge and driving the decision.

Strengths: Need to feel in control. Thrives on motivating others and making fast decisions. Money and power can be motivating factors.  

Weaknesses: Inpatient, bossy, has a difficult time apologizing, and is an impulsive decision maker. Strongly dislikes feeling powerless or controlled.

Urchin – Analytical, detailed-oriented individuals. Urchins are good at planning but may take longer to make decisions. Facts are important. 

Strengths: Disciplined and relies on logic. They prefer to have all the facts and information before making a decision. They thrive on respect. 

Weaknesses: They may be too introspective, critical of others, and unforgiving. Over-analyzes; May seem cold & distant.

Whale – A whale is a caretaker. They are amiable and dependable. They seek to please others. 

Strengths: They tend to be more easy going, sympathetic, and kind. They work well under pressure, and flourish in a supportive environment. 

Weaknesses: They may remain quieter during a conversation. Overly emotional. May take a pessimistic attitude; May lack motivation and discipline to stay on task.

Plan Your Divorce Using Unspoken Leverage

The divorce process can be emotionally overwhelming. 

Often things are said that one of you might regret later. 

Fighting is often based in fear. If you are able to take the time to remember some key things about your soon-to-be-ex, it could be helpful in getting your divorce strategically. You will likely have a deeper understanding of his fears.

This is not about playing games, just recognizing what game you are in. 

Utilize the tips above to plan your upcoming conversations. 

Until next time… Patience and progress!

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

Coping as Co-Parents during Covid-19

Coping as Co-Parents during Covid-19

Co-parenting with someone that you don’t necessarily like is difficult under normal conditions. Add in the stress of a pandemic (BIG WHAMMY) and it may require the coping skills of a saint!

While celebrities like Gwen Stefani and her ex-husband Gavin Rossdale have been reported to be handling this situation pretty well, it made me think… what about those who are still living under the same roof!?! 

DOUBLE WHAMMY!

Even though Demi Moore and Bruce Willis make it look pretty cool to hang with their kids as a divorced couple in their “social media quarantine” pictures, what about those who aren’t officially divorced yet?

TRIPLE FREAKING WHAMMY!!

We often think of co-parents as divorced people with kids, and forget about the couples who no longer act or feel like husband and wife, but don’t have the legal documentation yet. 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a few women about how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While they are all still legally married, they feel more like co-parents than husband and wife.

Patience isn’t limitless, but the love for their children is, and thus they are doing the very best they can living with their “possibly soon-to-be-ex”. 

Take a look at the real life, yet unique, experiences of 3 different women to learn how they are handling these very unexpected circumstances.

Note: Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals and their families. 

All of the women answered similar questions. Answers/stories were summarized for brevity.

 

Waiting for COVID-19 to End

Meet “Patient Patricia”

Patricia’s husband informed her some time ago that he wanted to file for divorce. They’ve been married for over 15 years and have two young kids under the age 12. Neither Patrica nor her husband have actually filed for divorce, and COVID-19 has only slowed down the potential for that to happen. 

She admits that initially, when her husband first told her that he wanted to file for divorce, that she was in denial, and wanted to try to figure out a way to make it work. 

They also made a conscious decision not to tell the kids. Fast forward to life under a stay at home order, and things have become a bit more interesting. 

Patricia has been busy working a demanding job while still trying to provide a sense of normalcy at home. 

Speaking of normalcy, the kids still don’t know about the impending divorce, so Patricia, along with her husband, spend a lot of time pretending that everything is ok. This includes family dinners and other “in-house” activities with the kids.

As you can imagine, having to pretend that you’re still one big happy “normal” family, while you are sleeping next to someone that you know will likely file for divorce, brings a level of emotional stress that can be difficult to manage even without COVID-19. 

Nikki: On a scale of 1-10, 1 being bad and 10 being great, how would you rate your level of amiability under the current circumstances?

Patricia: Hmmm, I would rate it a 9.

Nikki: Wow! That’s great, all things considered. Do you have any tips on how you’ve been able to achieve such an amicable relationship?

Patricia: Honestly being empathetic has helped. I’m not saying it’s easy, but treating someone how I like to be treated goes a long way. I also try to be understanding of how he feels. I have accepted that he no longer wants to be married, and it has helped to reduce the tension. 

Nikki: I can totally understand how being more accepting helps and I wish you guys the best.

 

Separated under the Same Roof

Meet “Separated Samantha”

Samantha and her husband unofficially separated in mid-2019. For some married couples, it’s not uncommon to hit a rough patch that you’re unable to fully recover from. 

After 15 years of marriage, unsuccessful attempts at marriage counseling, and known infidelities by her husband, their unofficial separation meant no longer sharing a bed, a bedroom, and being intimate while still living under the same roof.  

I know that Samantha’s story is not uncommon, and after attempting a reconciliation, Samantha decided that enough was enough.

Although she couldn’t afford to just pick up and move out, she decided that she didn’t want to live unhappily ever after, and filed for divorce in December of 2019.

On top of the natural tension of sharing space with a spouse who has informed you that “there is no longer a connection,” it became increasingly difficult for Samantha to hide things from their children.

The kids, especially their teenager, sensed that things were different, and eventually both of their families became aware of the demise of their marriage including his infidelity. 

Her husband has recently changed his tune and is ready for a fresh start, in a new city, away from her family and friends. 

Samantha, on the other hand, has different intentions, all of which may, or may not, have been shared with her husband just yet. 😉

She has changed her focus from constantly “walking on eggshells” and crying herself to sleep, to saving money, watching the family’s finances more closely, and making more strategic decisions to provide for her and her children in the future. 

While there are days that she still feels like she has to “smile and bear it” for her kids, it’s frustrating that the divorce process is at a bit of a standstill during COVID-19. 

Nikki: What are some of the things you are specifically focused on?

Samantha: I’m focused on my career, going back to school, and making sure my kids are ok. My kids make me laugh and always want to spend time with me, and are a bit upset with their dad. It’s important to me that they have a relationship with their dad, but I understand why they are upset with him.  

Nikki: How would you rate your level of civility in your relationship under the current circumstances? On a scale of 1-10, 1 being pretty bad, we hate each other and 10 being great, we’re very civil. 

Samantha: As of right now, he thinks we’re in a better position than what we really are (mainly because things are paused), I would say it’s a 6. 

It varies between a 4-6. When he attempts to reconcile and I shut it down, he gets angry and then things aren’t so great. No physical abuse, but more verbal and emotional at times.  

Nikki: How are you coping considering everything you all have been through?

Samantha: It’s challenging. I’m not going to lie. But I try to be optimistic and understand that this situation is temporary. Even if we were to split, many of the responsibilities that I am dealing with now will still fall on me. I handle the majority of the parenting responsibilities and that likely won’t change. 

Work is a good distraction, and while I never planned for my marriage to end, I feel better about the steps that I’m taking to make sure that I will be able to make it on my own.

 

Could COVID-19 Save Your Marriage

Meet “Ambivalent Aliyah”

Sometimes we are undecided about if we actually want a divorce a not. Going through the motions of day to day life and having the distraction of work, social activities, and shuffling kids back and forth can make a lackluster marriage tolerable. 

Throw in a mandatory stay at home order because of COVID-19, and your indecisiveness about your marital status may shift from one side of the spectrum to the other. 

Aliyah has been married for 20 years, and while unhappy for quite some time, she is unsure about filing for divorce. Both she and her husband are very successful people and maintain a relatively simple lifestyle with their 1 child.

However, over the course of the last few years they have lived much more like roommates, including a makeshift pillow barrier in the middle of their bed, than life partners. 

In the beginning of the stay at home order, Aliyah set pretty high goals of taking control of things and instilling a regimented plan. She was confident that she could juggle being a parent/teacher/counselor/lunch lady/dinner preparer all while working her full time job. 

She was planning to cook a hot breakfast every morning and even ordered new desks and computer screens so they could all work from home with no problems – IN THE SAME ROOM. 

Maybe I forgot to mention that they share a single level apartment. 😉

Needless to say, by Week 2 there was a new plan!  

When they finally felt like they had a good “working” rhythm, other things started to unfold, both good and bad. 

Previous challenges with their different parenting styles were now on the surface as they were literally juggling being full time parents and full time employees like never before. 

Nikki: What are some of the things you have been doing to cope with the current circumstances?

Aliyah: It’s hard. We are both working a lot of hours, and staying in our own respective spaces helps, but we probably see less of each other now than before. We don’t eat dinner together like we used to because he’s working longer hours. 

My kid finds it easier to talk to me about issues with schoolwork, and can deal with my parenting style a bit better than my husband’s. Proximity hasn’t changed that reality, it just puts more responsibility on me during this time. 

Nikki: I’m sure that makes things a bit more challenging.

Aliyah: We were watching a movie on Netflix the other night, and it spurred a discussion about mental health and his temperament that became quite intense.

After that conversation things were tense for a while. Since we don’t live in a very big space, I finally needed it to be addressed. It’s something I probably would have just ignored before COVID. We discussed his limited ability to deal with his emotions, and what prompted my feelings for me to want the divorce in the first place. It was an enlightening conversation for him, and almost cathartic for me because I was able to express myself. 

The really good thing that has come out of all of this, which has been quite interesting for us, is that we both have a greater appreciation for what we do for a living. He definitely has a deeper understanding and appreciation for what I do, which just wasn’t there before. 

Nikki: On a scale of 1-10, 1 being bad and 10 being great, how amicable is your relationship today?

Aliyah: 6.5 – 7. We are generally amicable because we both are sensible enough to understand that we literally can’t go anywhere. No one can slam the door and leave the house to cool off. Because of that we are being forced to do things differently, and behave differently.

Nikki: Do you think you will still file? 

Aliyah: Possibly. My feelings about how I have been mistreated in the relationship don’t just go away. Friends and family have suggested that I stay and stick it out. I just don’t see our path continuing in the traditional way. I know that men and women will never really be treated equally in our society. I’m not looking for equality in a relationship, I’m looking for respect, and I just don’t think the respect has been there. 

I have brains and talent, and there are other things I offer besides a bra.

I just don’t want to take whatever I can get from him, the way people are suggesting that I should.

 

When COVID-19 Makes Your Marriage More Challenging

As you can tell from the stories above, no two situations are alike. However they have a lot in common. 

Deciding to end a marriage, and learning how to accept that your marriage may be over, is no small task. 

Coupled with the complexity of not being able to leave your house for weeks at a time, while being cut off from your support system and self-care activities right when you need it most, can make life feel unbearable. 

Rightly so, there has been a lot of focus on couples that are already divorced and their challenges with co-parenting schedules, custody agreement violations, and non-payment of child support due to COVID-19. 

The goal of this particular post was just to shed light on the relationships that don’t often get discussed, but face their own challenges. 

It was insightful for me to learn more about how divorcing couples (and those on the cusp of it) are surviving during the COVID pandemic. 

There is no doubt that this life altering event is forcing all of us to make huge sacrifices, grapple with unexpected losses and death, and deal with a huge amount of uncertainty. 

I just wanted others to know that families like the ones above, along with others, deserve compassion and understanding too. 

I am hopeful that at least one woman will find a little nugget to help her cope, and recognize that she is not alone and that her struggle is very real. 

Until next time… Patience and progress!

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the primary divorce financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners prepare for divorce to avoid common financial mistakes and confidently maintain their financial security. She uses proven strategies within the FIIRM Approach methodology so her clients can manage their money, debt, and credit in their new financial life. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE Ultimate Resource Guide HERE. 

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