You believed marriage was 50/50 … and it wasn’t. So, why do you think your divorce will be?
I know you. You’re smart. You’re persistent. You’re goal-oriented. You’ve worked hard your whole life. You worked hard at school … to create more opportunity for yourself. You worked hard to get that right job … when your peers were still trying to find themselves. You worked hard to climb the corporate ladder … overcoming challenge after challenge. You’ve made your career a priority … because you’ve always known that the way to move up was always to move forward. How do I know you? I was you. I spent 20 years in Corporate America before becoming a divorce coach … so, from that perspective and that of my clients, I have something very important to tell you.
The system is rigged against you. And as a professional woman, it’s rigged against you even more than anyone else. Why? You mistakenly believe you’re on an equal playing field. You haven’t been. Not in your career. Not in your marriage. Not in your divorce. 50/50 doesn’t actually exist in life. And if you insist on acting like it does, it will f*ck you in three, very clear ways:
1. You F*ck Yourself
You bought into the idea you can earn an equal place in your career through hard work, drive and persistence. You’re proud of your ability to get shit done. You believe that you can change the playing field … you can control the circumstances … you can manipulate the outcome. You believe that your ability to control everything around you is the very foundation of your success. It isn’t. For all of your hard work, you get paid less, receive less recognition and are promoted less than your male peers. Regardless of what you do, Corporate America is rigged against you. And guess what? The minute you stepped outside traditional gender roles, your marriage was rigged against you as well. Why? The very characteristics that contribute to your success at work are the same ones that sabotage your marriage. Who does everything in your marriage? You do … because you believe your inherent value is defined by what you do. And there’s a double standard that says you’re supposed to. You’re bringing home the bacon, frying it up in a pan and never letting him forget he’s a man … because you’re the one who gets shit done, right? That’s not 50/50 … that’s exhausting. You’ve achieved success by working a lot harder than everyone else, including your husband … but at what cost?
Hard Truth: People treat you the way you treat you … and that includes your husband, your lawyer, a judge. You can’t control the divorce process. It can’t be made into what you want through hard work and sheer force of will. Success is about shifting your focus away from him … to get centered in you. It’s about creating boundaries that reinforce and support the real you. Only when you achieve a measure of control over yourself, can you influence what happens around you. And if you don’t start playing your own game in your divorce, you truly will f*ck yourself.
2. Success F*cks You
You’re not like other women. Focusing on your career has given you achievement, independence and financial control. You’ve never “depended” on a man. So, you’re not very afraid of divorce. To you, it’s just another challenge in a long list of challenges you always overcome. And unlike other women, you have the money to hire a great lawyer to protect you. At the very least, everything will get split 50/50, right? Wrong. Yes, the court wants 50/50 agreements, but it doesn’t mean what you think. It doesn’t mean that you and your husband split joint assets in half and each take away 50%. What really happens is all of your hard-earned assets (which you likely think are solely yours) are combined with all of his assets. Your combined assets are then equalized … meaning that whoever has more … either you or your ex … gives more … so that you are each walking away with the same amount. If you’re bringing home all the bacon … then you’ll be losing a lot of it in your divorce. And it doesn’t end there. You might owe him alimony for several years. And if you have children together, then you’ll be paying him child support … even with 50/50 custody. Now, you have to work really hard. You have no choice. There’s no getting off the hamster wheel now that a precedent has been set in court around your ability to make money (i.e., your capacity).
Hard Truth: You’ve busted ass in your career to get where you are now. You’ve been successful regardless of unequal pay, unequal opportunity, unequal recognition. And yet, if you earn more than your husband, you’re the financial loser in divorce. The system f*cks you because of your success … so be smart, pick your battles and stay true to you. You’ll lose money in your divorce, but you can minimize the damage by avoiding costly delays and unnecessary legal fees. It means you need to show up, be present and unleash your kick ass power in this process. And remember … freedom is priceless, right?
3. Failure F*cks You
Divorce is a common occurrence with almost half of the population dissolving their marriage contracts. Yet, there is an underlying belief that divorce equals failure … for you, not your husband. Why? Traditional gender roles applaud men for professional success, without any regard for their personal lives. Think Donald Trump, Sumner Redstone, Larry Ellison … all famous, successful businessmen who’ve been divorced at least twice. Yet, no one considers them failures. No one equates their divorce with who they are. The same isn’t true for women. if your marriage isn’t working, it hasn’t failed … you have. You are the failure. It’s supposed to be your responsibility, so it must be your fault. That stigma of failure doesn’t just punch you in the gut during your very personal divorce … it also becomes a black mark that gets carried into your professional life. And that black mark will f*ck you … if you internalize it. If you believe that you are a failure … you will make it true. And that belief will hijack your confidence, effectiveness and future opportunity. You’ll find yourself falling down … or off … the corporate ladder. So, don’t let that happen. Don’t believe divorce equals failure. As the exception that proves the rule, Zsa Zsa Gabor was divorced many times and was still a successful businesswoman. Her secret to success? She never internalized divorce as failure. Instead, she used it to her advantage. And so can you. Choose what you want to believe. Apply your professional strengths to this process. And use your divorce as an opportunity to deepen and grow those strengths into a more meaningful, authentic leadership that serves you in every part of your life.
Hard Truth: It’s a matter of perspective. You can believe that divorce is failure … and create that. Or, you can believe that divorce is opportunity for transformation … and create that. The first perspective makes you a victim. You’re not that. I know you, remember? You’re a fighter. So, choose the second perspective. Use your divorce as a springboard into greater opportunity, transformation and leadership. Don’t wait for an outcome to be handed to you … create the outcome you want.
Everything you thought you were doing right will be used against you in your divorce. It’s unfair. Life is unfair. The court system is unfair. Succeeding in this process is not about working hard or doing more or depending on your lawyer. The key to success … in your life, this divorce and your career … is to change your mindset, connect to your strengths and make decisions based on what’s most important to you, not anyone else. You are not defined by your divorce. You are not defined by what you do. You are not defined by gender roles. You are not defined by what others think. You choose what defines you. When you do that, nothing can f*ck you.