One of my dear blogging friends is Lisa Thomson, who blogs about life after having left her marriage. Lisa has guided thousands of women who have made the difficult decision of leaving their marriages. She left one herself and not only survived it, but is thriving after having left it.
Are you stuck in a marriage that you’re not sure about anymore? Should you stay or leave your marriage? What can you expect when you do leave your marriage?
Although Lisa’s first book published in 2012, answers many of these questions, she now has a new book out. Well, it’s not so much a book as a divorce manifesto. A Divorce Companion: The Best of the Great Escape Blog will guide you through the ups and downs of divorce. Lisa prepares you to deal with the psychological, financial, legal and parenting aspects of divorce in her new book which is a compilation of some of her best blog posts.
I chatted with Lisa recently and asked her some of the most pressing questions I had about leaving a marriage. If you enjoy the interview and are considering a divorce, pick up Lisa’s book today here.
Ok, Lisa, a few questions for you.
Thank you Vishnu, for hosting and interviewing me here at your wonderful blog!
What led you to leave your marriage?
Well, I guess you won’t be surprised when I say it was multiple things rather than one event. It was many small and big things over many years that ultimately led to the demise of my marriage. I finally accepted my unhappiness at the core of my being and gave myself permission to accept that life wasn’t turning out the way I expected. I faced the fact that it had to change. I realized too that ending a marriage, knowing what we need in our life to live authentically, is a very personal matter.
What factors should women consider before leaving a marriage?
There are many and here I will list in order of importance;
Children-your children will always be your #1 concern so, ensuring they understand what’s happening, that they are comfortable and well cared for is priority. Keep the communication open and ongoing, too. Often couples forget to talk about things after the big announcement. That is wrong—keep the conversation going and be as honest as possible while reminding them that their only job is to ‘be a kid’.
Finances-determine accounts, credit card debts, loans outstanding and actual income as a couple. Also, get your own credit card and bank account as soon as possible. If you’ve been a stay at home mom, without an income, it is reasonable to take some money from the joint account and put it into your new account.
Living arrangements/logistics-who will move out and will you sell or keep the matrimonial home? These are questions that don’t have to be answered immediately however, you should begin to think about and discuss together.
Child custody- Will you both co-parent? This is the most popular child custody arrangement and works well for the children if you are on good terms and there is no abusive patterns. Best to discuss this together and independently with lawyers. Take into consideration your special requirements and circumstances.
Division of assets-begin discussing a fair division of assets. Knowing what your assets and liabilities are as a couple and agreeing on these can make a world of difference in creating an amicable divorce.
Make all agreements binding-if you are lucky enough to agree with your soon to be ex (STBX) on important issues listed here, then make sure you have ‘consent orders’ that are written by lawyers and signed by all parties.
Family therapy-consider attending counseling as a divorcing couple. This is not something we did but I can see how it would help. Just because you’re divorcing doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to work together cooperatively (with the children and other divorce related issues).
Finally, family and friends-try not to neglect your relationships with extended family and keep them in the loop in so far as the child custody is concerned as well as living arrangements.
What was the most difficult part of leaving your marriage?
Hands down, the hardest thing about leaving my marriage was having less time with my children. It was emotionally wrenching initially. I was a full time stay at home mom (SAHM) at the time and raising them was my job from infancy. My ex-husband was a business traveler and not at home as much. I can say though, that in time, the pain and feeling of loss went away and was replaced with more gratitude for the time I do have with my children.
How do you adapt to life after separation and divorce?
Slowly LOL. It really is a personal process. One thing I can say is, I don’t know one divorced woman who hasn’t found happiness after a period of adjustment. It is hard. I won’t lie about that. It is also rewarding and a growing experience. It’s worth every tear.
What would you tell others about parenting after a divorce?
This is also a transitional period. You have to learn to parent more sensitively. Keep the communication open and don’t shut down your child’s sadness. Let them cry. Let them show you how much it hurts that mom and dad are split apart and everything is changing. Honoring your child’s feelings is one of the most validating things you can do for them as a parent. It was one of the hardest things for me to learn because every time they showed me anger or tears my guilt shot up and all I wanted to do was fix it. We can’t fix it, we can only make it easier for them.
What is your message in your latest book to women who are considering leaving and filing a divorce?
My latest book’s message overall is to embrace your individual strength as a woman. You can get through it but be prepared for frustration and anger to rear up while at the same time, finding the most joy you’ve experienced in years. It’s a real mixed bag. My book certainly covers many topics from Narcissism, financial budgeting, re-setting your career path to dealing with anger, and letting go. It’s designed to provide companionship and practical tips to those suffering right now.
What would you advise someone who is torn between staying and leaving?
This is always a tough one. It is the hardest part, the ‘thinking about it’ stage. I advise all women the same thing at this stage; do what is best for you and your family. It’s a personal decision. No one can tell another person when to end their marriage (barring obvious situations where a person is being abused physically, mentally or is in a life threatening relationship).
I advise to read, write and really be honest with yourself at this stage. Stop the denial. Make lists. Pros and cons, list unhappy events no matter how small. Life is made up of a million small things so if those are the unhappy events, well what does that say about your life? This is a decision that is not done over night and will take some introspection.
Where can people pick up your latest book?
It’s available now on Amazon. It’s designed to provide that companionship one needs during divorce and can only find through someone who’s been there. The variety and depth of topics act as a self help tool providing much needed tips and simple solutions to common divorce problems.
Lisa Thomson has gone through a unique divorce and faced unusual challenges. A mom, a writer and an interior decorator, Lisa also loves to draw and paint. “My passion is to encourage women going through divorce. It doesn’t have to be “the end” but rather, a new “beginning.” You can find her latest book on Amazon here and in Canada, here. She blogs at www.lisathomsonlive.com and active on Twitter and Facebook.