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Divorcees in the Media: Why You Aren’t a Victim but a Victor

I recently ran across a comic routine that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I won’t name any names, but the gist of it was that the comedian had married a divorced woman, referring to her as “a rescue.” The animal metaphor went on for a minute or so, and while I totally understand that comedy is sometimes sarcastic and out-there, it bugged me more than a little bit.

Divorce is, after all, no new phenomenon. The media loves headlines that paint divorced men and women as fixer-upper projects. The new spouse is deemed as some sort of knight in shining armor stooping down from their pedestal to find someone in need of saving. It seems that this is doubly stressed if that person has children.

Don’t get me wrong; I understand that taking on a new family when you previously were a single unit is tough. It is. I get it—but it doesn’t constitute a rescuing. Divorcees are not victims. The courage to actually end something that is not healthy for you is, in fact, just the opposite. There is something very heroic in that. Leaving behind your comfort zone is incredibly brave.

Divorcees and Moving On: Realizing Your Unique Worth

So what do divorcees have to offer in a relationship? More than you can imagine! I know that the media will not change overnight, nor will the general idea of what it means to fall in love with someone who has been in love before, but I speak with so much personal experience and from knowing so many amazing people who have been there. When someone chooses a divorcee as a forever-partner, they choose them not in spite of that fact but often, in some ways, because of the strength they exude due to their experience.

Yes, you may be fragile.

Yes, you may have cried and still may cry over the past.

Yes, it is difficult as hell.

But underneath that is a decision, a choice you made to consider yourself worthy of more than a marriage that is causing you pain. Maybe you were abused, mentally or physically. Maybe vows were broken. Maybe you found out that who you married was not who you thought they were. No matter what the situation, it was your choice and it is an indication of your strength.

Alternatively, staying in situations that are hard in order to fight for what you love is equally admirable. However, if there is abuse in your marriage you need to get help. You deserve to be safe, and you have the strength inside you to create a safe and healthy environment; you just have to discover it. There are more than enough programs that can help you get on your feet and stay safe. You just have to know where to look. We will be doing a post on that one day in the near future, so be sure to check back here for resources.

The way the media teaches the world to view divorced men and women may never change entirely, but what we can change is how we view ourselves. Knowing that you are strong, that you are brave, and that what you are doing is a courageous move that takes a lot of empowerment and self-love will help you move forward. Not everybody has that within them, but you do. You can remedy the victim label by carrying that kind of limitless power as you journey ahead. Remember that you are a prize, not a rescue. What you have been through has made you better and wiser, and in that wisdom, you have created something that defines you.

That, my friend, is what courage looks like.

If you need help realizing that, we’d love to help. You are worth it. You are wonderful. You are a victor, not a victim.



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What Beyoncé’s Lemonade Teaches Us About Infidelity and Divorce

You may not have her amazing voice or sexy dance moves, but after the release of Beyoncé’s sixth album, Lemonade, many women have realized they may have something in common with the artist, after all—the experience of being cheated on.

Is Beyoncé’s new album a thinly veiled discussion of her troubled marriage? The release of the singer’s sixth solo record late last month generated speculation about her relationship with Jay Z, but there’s no indication the pop star is looking for a divorce.

It’s clear, though, that the 12 tracks on Lemonade, which were released along with a short film that knits all the songs together, tackles the themes of infidelity and the strength that emerges when one goes through it. The first song, “Pray You Catch Me,” starts with the lyric, “You can taste the dishonesty, it’s all over your breath.” In another song, “Sorry,” Beyoncé makes it even more clear that she’s addressing a cheating partner: “He only want me when I’m not there / He better call Becky with the good hair.”

Throughout the album, while she explores a variety of musical genres and pays tribute to black women who have experienced trauma, Beyoncé focuses in on emotions. What does a woman feel when she discovers her partner has been unfaithful? If you’ve gone through it, you may recognize the intense emotions that Beyoncé’s music touches on. Betrayal, jealousy, revenge, and anger all come into play.

What Are Your Options After Infidelity?

Infidelity generally has one of two outcomes: reconciliation and forgiveness, or separation and divorce. Neither answer is the perfect one, but from the sound of Beyoncé’s songs, she’s chosen the first.

Lemonade finishes with songs of forgiveness, most notably “Sandcastles,” an emotional ballad that wraps up the angst and reflection of the earlier tracks and “All Night,” a song about healing and resilience through love that clearly shows she’s giving her relationship another chance. The knowledge that beautiful Beyoncé went through the pain of being cheated on and emerged with her relationship intact may help you find the strength to work through your own troubled marriage.

On the other hand, if you think you may choose to end the relationship with your unfaithful partner, rather than reconcile, the tracks on Lemonade may make you upset or uncertain because you don’t feel like taking another chance. That’s okay too. You have every right to leave after your trust has been betrayed, especially if you feel like you could never recover enough to rebuild the relationship. What one person does or is able to do in his or her marriage should provide things to consider, not a blueprint of how you should react in your own struggle.

Why You Need Support—No Matter What You Choose

When you go through a trial like Beyoncé describes in Lemonade, it’s important to find sources for support. You’ll experience emotions similar to the stages of grief you would feel after the death of a loved one, and indeed, the death of a marriage is something to grieve.

You’re not alone as you go though this; 22 percent of married men have committed adultery at least once, and 17 percent of divorces in the U.S. are directly tied to infidelity. My guess is a much higher percentage is tied to infidelity without the other partner even knowing it!

However, it may be a struggle to find sources of support. That’s often because you and your partner share friends, who may not want to take sides or, worse yet, may emotionally distance themselves from you in this tough time. Even family members may not provide the type of unconditional support and assistance that you need.

Your other options? A divorce support group, even if you’re not sure that divorce is the right option yet, can connect you with other people who understand what you’re going through. Although, sometimes surrounding yourself with the bitterness of others who have been cheated on can negatively impact you. Instead, a one-on-one relationship with a divorce coach or therapist who can focus on your individual needs—both practical and emotional—can help you work through your feelings, find resources for support, and help you discover a solution that is right for you.

For help in coping with divorce and finding the resources you need to move through the pain of a troubled marriage, contact us. We can help you navigate through the process and move forward with more confidence into the next phase of your life.



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Some Good Decisions Before, During, and After My Divorce

There were a number of things I did wrong in my divorce, from taking on 65 percent of the debt load to not asking for any form of support. However, it turns out there were a number of things I did that turned out right. Hindsight really is 20-20, and perhaps my clearer perspective today can bring you comfort in the decisions you make tomorrow.

What I Did Right Before Leaving

  • I waited until I could finally look at him and think, “I’d rather die alone than live with you for the rest of my life.” I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way; I didn’t hate him, I just finally didn’t want him anymore. After leaving, I beat myself up for waiting so long. But now I know, if I had left before that, I would have always wondered if I’d made the right choice. Today, I have zero regrets.
  • I practiced living without him. About eight months before I left him, I got a job as a flight attendant. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for everyone; it’s not nearly as glamorous as it is in the movies. However, what it did was help me understand that I was perfectly fine being alone. I was staying in hotels by myself in strange cities three to five nights a week, and I was okay. In the end, the experience made leaving him a whole lot less scary.

During my Divorce

  • I kept everything as emotion-free as possible. While love and hate are opposites of each other, they’re still just flip sides of the same coin. When you let go of those emotions, it’s so much easier to part with the things you must and keep what’s necessary. During the divorce process, many people get hung up on material things, when what’s actually important is that you (or you and your kids) are financially okay.
  • I left while I held the power in the relationship. In 1938, Willard Waller, a sociologist, invented the term “The principle of least interest.” Throughout my marriage, there was always an imbalance. Basically, throughout most of the time I lived with him, I had no power to change the situation, as I was more emotionally invested in him than he was in me. Once I left, he thought I would change my mind and come back, as I had so many times before. But, because my mind was in a powerful place, I never once thought about returning.

After It Was Done

  • I dated a guy with the same problem. Okay so this may not sound like a good idea. But, the first man I dated after I left my ex-husband turned out to have exactly the same issue—complete and utter emotional availability. However, I recognized the issue a whole lot faster (after two dates) and was able to break it off, long before it got very serious and with very little pain on either side. It helped me realize I could trust my instincts again—because the chances of that becoming a long-term relationship were way below zero.
  • I was myself first, last, and always: No matter the circumstances, the end of a marriage feels like a personal failure. I blamed part of that on trying to be what someone else thought I should be for many years. This made me utterly determined that, if there were another relationship, I would not make the mistake of trying to change myself for them. I’ve been married for quite some time to my second husband, and there were no surprises for either of us after marriage, as he’s on his second marriage too. When you both make the other laugh, and continue to be intrigued and in love, those power scales balance quite nicely.

The hardest part about all of it—before, during, and after—was that I felt really alone and unsupported through most of the divorce, the adjustment afterward, and the dating process. Just bringing myself to the point of leaving took a couple years. There was so much advice I needed as I worked through it on my own, yet no one to turn to in a strange town, in a new job. The online and personal support provided by Untangle The Knot would have helped a lot!



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5 Hard Truths About Extra-Marital Affairs

While they don’t always mean the end of a marriage, affairs are almost always a sign that something, somewhere throughout the relationship, has gone wrong. We all know, deep down, that marital infidelity is not a simple matter. We also know that our emotions often get the best of us in these situations. Regardless, it is important to view the affair as a symptom of deeper issues. Whether you have cheated on your spouse or have caught your spouse cheating, here are some important truths to consider.

1. Affairs Rarely Work Out in the Long Run.
Perhaps you are wondering why this has happened. How could he or she (or I) prefer this other person? But the truth is, affairs are rarely about the third person. Remember that.

In a Time magazine article entitled “Why We Have Affairs – and Why Not to Tell,” couples counselor Mira Kirshenbaum looks at the deeper issues underlying affairs. As she pointedly advises, in an extra-marital affair that ends in divorce, the third party is like a “crowbar” to help get out of a broken relationship. Once you are out of the marriage, you don’t then marry the crowbar.

Whether you have cheated, or your spouse has (or you both have), it is important to put this point in perspective. A relationship that started with lies and deceit is unlikely to end well. For this reason, if not to save the marriage, make sure that the “guilty” party has done their best to honestly assess their reasoning before moving on and making the same mistakes all over again.

2. Affairs are, Unfortunately, Common.
The question of guilt brings us to the next point. According to the same Times article, approximately half of marriage relationships lapse into adultery at some point. While this is a sad statistic in some ways, it really means that adultery happens to us all. Perhaps you are wondering: why is this happening to me or why did I do this? Here is the answer: because you are human. Sometimes, we all fail. Good people make mistakes. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. That is why.

3. In the Case of Affairs, Honesty is Not Always the Best Policy.
If you are having an affair, you may want to tell your spouse, to get if off your chest. You may feel so overwhelmed with guilt that you cannot live with it anymore. Conversely, having found out about your spouse’s affair, you may wonder how they could have let you find out this way. Confession, in this case, can be hurtful and wrong — even selfish. Trying to keep the secret may have been your spouse’s way of protecting you from their mistakes.

Again, affairs are symptoms of deeper problems, and it is best to address those problems in meaningful ways — even if that means separation and divorce. Simply coming out and confessing unfaithfulness may seem like a solution, but is unlikely to get to the heart of the matter, unless the adulterous spouse has deep issues with monogamy and they refuse to confront those issues.

4. Statistically, Men and Women Have Affairs for Different Reasons.
An unsurprising statistic from a Rutgers University survey shows that men and women have affairs for vastly different reasons. The study found that over half of men have affairs, despite being content in their marriages. On the other hand, less than a third of women who had affairs reported being content in their marriages. It is a hard reality that, for men, affairs may be part of marriage. We are not so far past the age of concubinage and consorts, when some (not all!) men expected to have both a wife and a mistress, or multiple mistresses. This reality leads to our next point.

5. Do Marriages Recover From Affairs?
Writing for the Mirror, psychotherapist Philippa Perry looks at some of the reasons why people have affairs — and the relative likelihood of recovery. As noted in the previous point, there are times when men (and women) expect to be able to have an “open marriage.” In that extreme case, a marriage could reconcile with new boundaries, but you should never feel like this is something you have to accept.

Perry gives two examples where recovery is likely, and both involve the need to communicate more effectively. First, you may feel that you and your spouse have grown too far apart, and perhaps, the affair arose out of a need to have someone you or they could relate to. Second, you or your spouse may be inadvertently pushing the other person away due to insecurity or a constant need to be right. In either of these two cases, counseling can, and likely will, help to save your marriage.

On the other end of the spectrum, affairs can really signal the end of a marriage. If, for example, your partner wants to have affairs and you do not approve, then what else can be said? Cut it off now. If they choose to remarry in the future, they should be honest and let their significant other know that they do not plan to be monogamous. You are making the right choice by taking control and walking away from the situation. Remember, in such a case, it is not your fault.

For guidance in saving your marriage or making the decision whether or not to divorce, check out our Contemplating Divorce section for helpful information.



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How I Untangled My Knot

I am just on the other side of untangling my own knot, and I am truly grateful for that. It was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. In most people’s eyes, we had a relatively good life — fairly happy, successful, two kids and the white picket fence, so to speak. But here’s the deal. Nothing is as it seems at times. I pondered the possibility of divorce for a long time, while questions and fears swirled through my head. I’m sure he felt the same.

What about the kids? Will they be okay? Will it mess them up for life? Will I have enough money? What will happen with our assets? Where will I live? Should I sell the house? I can’t sell the house until I put on a new roof and update the master bath, right? How much will that cost? Who do I use? How much money will we even get for the house? What will happen to our friends? Will they chose sides? How will the credit card balance get paid off? Can I qualify for a mortgage on my own? Maybe I should rent. Will he bring another woman around my kids? What will people think? How will my parents react? Will I be alone forever? Am I even strong enough to make it through this without breaking? Is being married and unhappy better than being alone? It has to be easier than figuring this out… right?

How do I untangle the knot I once tied?

It took a while to come to the conclusion that divorce was the best option for us, and I am thankful for the people and resources that helped me answer the questions and move through the process in the best possible way. I have learned so much over the last couple of years, and my business partner Seth and I wanted to create a one-stop place of information, support and guidance, where I could share things I’ve learned in hopes of helping even one person find their way out of a situation they know is wrong for them, and help them move toward a more positive journey for their life.

We’ll share the information I used to answer my questions and soothe my fears including guidance for finding the financial and legal resources, how to develop a support network, and finding the appropriate therapy or coaching to not only move through this period of grief, but also to achieve a greater awareness of yourself in preparation for a happier, more fulfilling relationship in the future. I will also share learnings of a spiritual nature that I discovered when I felt desperate for answers and traveled unfamiliar avenues in hopes of finding them. Each of these topics contributed in some way to my journey. I invite you to read and think about each topic with an open mind, try it on and see what fits. If you can find even one nugget that provides some direction, security or even a shred of peace when you need it, I will consider this to be a worthy effort, and I feel honored that I could be of service.



Welcome to the UTK Blog

My name is Julie Gannon and my journey through divorce led me to co-founding Untangle The Knot with my long time friend and business partner, Seth Wright. Having been there, I truly understand how devastating, complicated, frustrating and lonely divorce can be. Seth had a front row seat to my entire divorce — whether he liked it or not! It turned out to be a good thing, though. Because when the dust settled, we realized that there was a way to create something positive from this experience.

I saw the number of books, websites and other resources out there. It was overwhelming. I knew nothing about divorce, and I didn’t know where to start. What resources could I trust and would be worth the time and money? I had so many questions, so little time, and I was emotionally exhausted by it all. I needed something or someone to guide me through the process and give me the information I needed, when I needed it — a divorce sherpa of sorts. Sadly, none were available. I handled my divorce like I would any other large project at work. I guess I figured it out because my lawyer told me I was the most organized and prepared client she’d ever had. She also told me that I saved thousands of dollars in legal fees because of that!

Seth and I thought others may have the same challenges I did, and that they could benefit from the approach I used. Don’t get me wrong, I made my share of mistakes, and I wish I had some do-overs in many respects. But, all I can do is to keep moving forward in my own journey and to help others avoid the same mistakes. This is how Untangle The Knot was born.

We aren’t therapists, lawyers or divorce professionals per se. We have each spent our careers in the business world, gaining financial and legal expertise and the ability to tackle large-scale projects — all of which translated surprisingly well to getting through divorce. We also have combined interests in physical and emotional health, and spirituality. Above all, we share a most sincere desire to be of service to people, especially during their most difficult times.

Thank you for trusting us, and sharing your journey with Untangle The Knot.