Ask The Divorce Coach Archives


In order to address specific issues of mediation and litigation, please feel free to ask questions; the responses will be posted here without your name, to maintain the confidentiality that is so important at this time. Please email Susan via email with questions or for a free copy of the exercises mentioned in these articles.


DENIAL is the refusal to admit the truth.

Have you ever been told, "You're in denial"? Did your friends or family warn you that your marriage was in trouble before you were aware of it yourself? Did anyone say, "I told you so" when you told them about the divorce? DENIAL is not weakness; it is a basic defense mechanism that may be very helpful at times. Often, however, we survive extremely difficult situations by pretending that they do not exist or by imagining that our experience of "what is" is not accurate; that is another form of DENIAL. Sometimes the mind overloads. But the difference between healthy and unhealthy, helpful and not helpful DENIAL is this: healthy DENIAL allows you revisit the subject again and again until you have seen it from all sides and taken appropriate action as needed. When you are in DENIAL, and you aren't addressing your situation or if you do not see that you have a problem, you may need some support to expand your view so that you can resolve the situation and this is very common during divorce. Before you see the truth, you will first need to see. The Divorce Forum, a division of The Marriage Forum, Inc. encourages everyone contemplating divorce to seek professional support with a CPA specializing in divorce before discussing options with your spouse. Until you know the probable financial situation you can expect, you would be ill-served to speak in a way that could be heard as a threat and the word D-I-V-O-R-C-E is a very challenging word for anyone to hear, isn't it?

Dear Divorce Coach,

My friends believe that my wife is having an affair and that I am being really stupid. She says that she's with her friends Friday nights and I baby sit. What should I do?


Turning a blind eye

Dear Turning,

Have you or your friends other reasons to believe that your wife is lying? It would be useful to investigate your wife's whereabouts if you discover any of the following 10 Divorce Danger Signs:

1. Whispered conversations

2. Concealed cell phone calls

3. Secret travel plans

4. Sudden weight loss

5. Unpaid household bills

6. New wardrobe

7. Unexplained gifts

8. Feathering the nest

9. Hidden pornography

10. Love letters

Otherwise, I would question your friends' motives unless you previously expressed a concern yourself. In our booklet, 101 Divorce Survival Secrets, one tip is to be careful in the creation of your "personal support module". This is as true during marriage as it is in divorce. Your friends are usually responding to the words they hear from you and this may include body language and whether you seem calm or worried. Be sure that the advice you receive is valid and that you aren't "leading the witness" into suggestions that are based on faulty data.

Dear Divorce Coach,

My husband and I have been married for 8 years. I have not worked for the last few years and am dependent on him. He says that he agrees to my financial terms in our upcoming divorce. My mother says that he is hiding assets and that he will not provide for us. What can I do?


A Worried Woman

Dear Worried,

Whether your mother's fears are accurate or not, it is important to know your family's financial condition. While you are still married, and before he moves his papers from the home you have the easiest access to data. Be sure to accumulate accurate records regarding your husband's earnings and any additional assets that you both may have. While you will have opportunities during "discovery" to request documentation, there is no guarantee that you will be given all the paperwork. By gathering it now, your chances for fairness will be improved as I have never seen a family court do more than "slap the wrist" of a spouse who is later shown to have more assets than reported, so please do not assume that "they" will help you. In addition, I often recommend that clients hire a private investigator who specializes in finance to uncover any off-shore or hidden property and monies.

"When you are in DENIAL, you know that something is wrong. When you are in oblivion, you cannot even see the problem."

Rev. Bernard Goodman

During the DENIAL phase, you must give your closest allies permission to tell you the truth. Otherwise there are two possible directions their guidance will take; either the friendship will suffer under the pressure of the truth, or the friend, afraid of being exiled, will remain silent.

If you have been accustomed to running things in your marriage, you may assume that you will be running the divorce, too. This is rarely true. Either your spouse will rise to the occasion, or your spouse may find an aggressive attorney.

5 WARNING SIGNS OF "DIVORCE 911"1. A spouse with nothing to lose 2. You come from different social strata and have different standards of behavior 3. Your spouse has access to free attorneys, a friend or family member 4. Your spouse has courtroom experience as an attorney, therapist or expert witness 5. Your spouse has paralegal training or previous divorce experience

Many clients project onto their partner the love and commitment that they feel themselves. They may blind themselves to the evidence that is before them. This, too, is DENIAL. If you are not devious or untrustworthy, why would you look for signs of that in your spouse?

The sexual liberation is over. According to the National Center for Disease Control, the death toll from HIV through 2001 is 457,667. They also list 14 sexually transmitted diseases. I caution clients to avoid "Death by DENIAL".


1. Create your own "professional healing module" and always confirm credentials and references and the cost in advance of meetings.

2. Use free expert referral service and fee "Ask the experts."

3. Interview and evaluate each expert for competence and rapport. Develop the necessary expertise to interview and engage all the attorneys, mediators, coaches, therapists, private investigators and physicians that you may require.

4. Develop divorce management skills. Be proactive; including promptness, preparedness and thoroughness.

5. Confirm and attend every court date.

6. Do not assume that your divorce will be uneventful; check with your attorney regularly to confirm what is true.

Ask The Divorce Coach Archives

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