Divorce as a Source of Empowerment



Jessica: Have you ever heard of a holistic divorce coach? Or have you ever thought about divorce as a source of empowerment instead of trauma? It may not be the way you’re used to thinking about divorce, but we’re going to help you reframe it. Those are the things we’re talking about in today’s episode of the Divorce etc… podcast. We’re the exEXPERTS, Jessica and T.H. We focus on helping you navigate your divorce and successfully moving on with your life. Please follow us on all social media at exEXPERTS, and check out for tons of free divorce related resources. Let’s bring in today’s guest.

T.H.: Hey, everybody, it’s T.H. here. We are thrilled to have Olga Nadal. I hope I’m saying your last name properly. She is a certified coach and the founder of the Holistic Divorce Institute, and she is one of us. Let me just start by saying that. We are all on the same page in terms of the way we think about divorce and moving on from divorce. We are the girl gang that you guys want to follow. We’re thrilled to have you here with us today.  

Olga: Yeah, I’m so excited to be here. Like you said, we’re all bringing the new paradigm of divorce together. There is a new way of divorcing. Your parents’ divorce has nothing to do with what’s happening today. I just love that we connected just recently, and now we’ve been collaborating every week. We chat on a call, and it’s like, okay, how are we bringing this to the masses? Because everybody needs to know that there’s a much better way to divorce.

Jessica: Exactly. Well, let’s start there, because you talk about changing the paradigm of divorce. Tell us what you mean by that?  

Olga: Well, what I mainly mean is that we have, in the past, approached divorce as a very conflict-based, litigation-based type of process. There was a time when that was necessary. It wasn’t up until recently that you could have a no fault divorce, which means what we currently have, that you don’t need any particular reason to tell a judge these are the circumstances, the extenuating circumstances why I need out of this marriage, which was the main reason why in the past, divorce has been so contentious. It was because you really needed to prove that there was a major break in the marriage. Nowadays, we don’t have to do that. That’s optional. I always say if you really want the drama, you can have it. But if you don’t, you can literally do the whole process without a lawyer, which I want to make very clear, I do not recommend—

Jessica: Nor do we.

Olga: Nobody recommends it. But if you really think, “I just don’t want to deal with lawyers, I just want to do it quickly,” like literally, today, there are online processes that could do your whole divorce in minutes. Again, it’s not what I’m saying that you should be doing. But what I’m trying to explain is that there are so many more different ways to do divorce today that do not need the existence of high conflict. We can create a team, which is what we recommend in the holistic divorce sphere, where you have your lawyer, you have your therapist, you have your coach, you have a mediator, you have a financial adviser, and even though this may sound like whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, this is complicating things, it will actually simplify them for you. Even though it may sound like, oh, I’ll be spending more money, you will probably be spending a lot less money. The part that I absolutely love is, even though it sounds like there’s going to be more turmoil, it will actually make your emotional involvement a lot less, which is very, very needed for the process. So all in all, the process of divorce today doesn’t have anything to do with what’s happened in the last 50, 100 years. It’s almost like comparing the landline phones that we used to have to the iPhones—two completely different things. Don’t go back to the landline.

T.H.: So, Olga, what’s the difference then between what you’re suggesting and collaborative divorce? Because collaborative divorce sounds pretty similar—they put a team together of different professionals to all advocate for a settlement based situation. So what’s the difference?

Olga: Great question. My answer was the solution for those who cannot have a collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, which is fantastic, both partners have to agree to the process. They have to have an understanding that they are going to create these teams, that they’re going to work together to avoid going into court. They made an arrangement. They made an agreement. They’re not going to go to court. If they decide throughout the process that they do need to end up in the family court system, they have to pretty much start the process again. They can’t be using the same lawyer. A lot of the coaches will refuse to keep working with them. What happens when you have one person in the divorce that says, “I really want to do this the best possible way? I want to do it in a way that both my emotions and the logistics have been taken into consideration. I want to do collaborative divorce, but my partner doesn’t want to collaborate.” That’s when the holistic divorce comes in. Because we’ll be working with you, with one of people in the in the divorce process, and we will, believe it or not, change the whole dynamic of the divorce for both partners. Because even if one person gets educated in the divorce process, gets their emotions under control, and gets guidance, and ideally, professional guidance, the whole outcome of your divorce will be way different to whether you were doing it just on your own, or just with your lawyer, and dealing with this potential high conflict partner that doesn’t want to collaborate.

Jessica: You may have already answered it, but just so we’re clear, how would you define holistic divorce? Forget collaborative and comparing it, just specifically for holistic divorce, so people understand that.  

Olga: Yeah, holistic divorce is the process or technology, whatever you want to call it, where we will take care of both the emotions and the logistics of divorce, to have a settlement that empowers you instead of traumatises you. The whole process of divorce has to end with a settlement, has to end in an agreement, right? What we’re trying to do with this is to make sure that that agreement that you’re signing, which by the way, it’s going to live with you for the rest of your life unless you go back to court and do motions to change it. It’s a pretty permanent change to your life. I want to make sure that in that settlement, both your emotions and your rights are being considered. Because what I see a lot is that when you’re being guided only with a lawyer, your emotions are not being processed, and you are making decisions based on those emotions. Even though your lawyer is trying to get you to be logical and rational, your emotions are running so high that your intellect is running really, really low. What we do with the holistic divorce process is we start there. We start with your emotions. There are very unique five emotions that everybody goes through in divorce that we have identified, and that we work with our clients one on one on each of them. I’ll quickly run through them so people know what they are.

T.H.: Yes.

Olga: But basically, the emotions of divorce, which are universal, and you’re going to experience them to one degree or another, is fear. That one is the most overwhelming. Everybody’s terrified. They don’t know what’s going to happen, and they start fear fantasizing about the worst possible outcomes. There is shame and guilt. We usually bundle them together, but they are two different concepts. There is a lot of shame about the preconceived idea that you failed.

Jessica: That’s right.

Olga: That there was something wrong with either you or your partner or the relationship. We work in clearing out all of that nonsense, because it truly is nonsense. There is a lot of guilt about, “Oh my God, what’s going to happen to my children,” particularly, and especially moms that obviously worry as well. But moms feel their identity is very tied to the wellbeing of their children. So there is a lot of guilt about what’s going to happen to them. There is a lot of grief, even for those divorces that we will say, “Oh, I wanted it,” even though big quotation marks “wanting it” means it had to happen. Nobody really wants a divorce. Nobody enters a marriage thinking, “I’m going to get a divorce later, how fun.” But even if you’re the one wanting it, there is a whole grieving process that really needs to be witnessed and really needs to be taken care of before making any of those other huge decisions.

T.H.: Right. Yeah, I mean, we always talk about the fact that when you’re getting a divorce, and you’re negotiating and making all these major decisions, you don’t want any of them to be driven by emotion. You don’t want anything to be a knee jerk reaction. And so if you’re not really addressing that side, you can’t possibly make plans for the future for yourself. You can’t even think. I mean, when you’re going through trauma, your brain is mush. That’s honestly why what we’ve done with exEXPERTS is simplify everything, from searching, to consuming information, to teaching yourself, to reaching out. We’re your friend. We’re already putting out our hands. It is really, really critical to address the emotional side and also to use your lawyer for the legal, to really—

Jessica: Not use them as a therapist.

T.H.: —pick your professionals and use them efficiently in terms of money and time, so that you can have more success. We actually interviewed one of our exEXPERTS about settlement tactics. It really sounds like you’ve encapsulated that idea. He talks about okay, you sit down, T.H., and think about the things that you can agree on. So start there. And then they present it. You’re basically building a team around me, for example, that of all the things that I’m willing to compromise on, leaving the outliers to negotiate with the mediator, but supporting me 360, so that no matter where I turn—okay, I’m emotional, I turn to Olga. I have a legal question, I turn to my lawyer. I have a parenting question, I turn to there. I have financial—so you’ve covered all the bases, which is really great. We know even in a high conflict, if you at least put something out there, it’s a starting point, even though you think they’re never going to settle, and they are who they are, and all of those things. I’m pretty sure that if I had handed out some common ground between us, even if it’s tiny, it probably would have would have helped a little bit. Maybe it would have saved me $1,000. I don’t know. I really don’t know. But it would have taken a step in the right direction instead of us spinning around for four years. But we’re going to pause for a moment here. Because we know it’s hard to get honest and reliable information about your divorce and life in general, so we’ve done the work for you with exEXPERTS and our Divorce etc… podcast. Jess and I had one another to ask all of the questions and figure out the answers. Now you have us too. We are your no bullshit, no nonsense girlfriends through divorce and beyond. Ask us anything about life and all that comes with it. Be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get exEXPERTS in your inbox, find out all the updates on the latest Divorce etc… podcasts, our experts, our advice, and upcoming events. Don’t miss out on information and tips you really need to know. If you want some one on one time with us girls, you can sign up for a private session. We know that the work really begins when the divorce is over. You can connect with us and get all of this information at We’ve lived it, so we get it.  

Jessica: So, Olga, I want to just jump back for a second to when you were talking earlier about the paradigm of divorce and how it’s been changing. But you had said something to us at one point about how the fact that the paradigm of divorce is changing can affect your marriage. Tell us a little bit about that.


Olga: Well, one thing that people don’t—well, there are so many misconceptions about divorce. I want to clarify some. A lot of people think that marriages end because something horrible has happened. Well, in my book, The Holistic Divorce, I actually created a term. It was a joke. I was just saying that to my friends and people who were asking me, like, “Oh, my God, why did you divorce? You guys were the best couple.” I couldn’t make them understand, like “Well, we just ran out of Netflix movies to watch, so we didn’t have anything else to say.” I came up with this medical term that I coined, which is called the FMS. I just said, “Oh, we just had FMS,” which is Fulfilled Marriage Syndrome. What does it mean? It means marriages, not all of them, but a lot—a lot of marriages and a lot of relationships, they have an expiration date. They’re not meant to be forever. They’re meant to be for a season of your life, which again goes against cultural beliefs. But the reality of every two marriages end in divorce shows you a different picture. What I want to tell people is, most marriages don’t end because there is abuse, [but] because of two reasons. 1) Because they’ve fulfilled the purpose of the relationship. They’ve fulfilled bringing children into this world, creating businesses, learning the lessons that they needed to learn, and they’re ready to move on. 2) Because they can financially do it. A lot of people think that people that have been married for 50 years, they clearly love each other. I’m sure that there are many of those. There are also plenty who did the math and say, “You know what? I’m not getting a divorce. This is going to affect the quality of my life way too much, and I don’t want it.” So they decide to stay together. But there are people, and especially now, with feminine liberation, where we actually have access to money, and jobs, and careers, that a lot of women feel like, “Yeah, I actually want to move on and not be in this relationship.” The third reason is because there’s been a major cultural phenomenon, if you want to call it, of a spiritual awakening, and people looking for their purpose, their dharma, their next chapter in their life. Very often, and again, I work mostly with women, 70% of divorces are initiated by women. A lot of these women came to me in sort of their midlife crisis, which I don’t like calling it that. I like to call it midlife arises, which is that point in their life where they’re like, “Okay, I think that I’m ready for something else now.” Yeah, and then they want to move on to the next one. That’s why I think that the fact that divorce is not as traumatizing as it used to be, it’s not as expensive, it’s not as complicated. There is so much more education out there. There is much more support. I think that’s making it easier for people to say, “You know what? This doesn’t work for me anymore.” Again, I want to stress that I don’t throw any of this data to encourage people to be like, “Alright, let’s just call it quits.” I always say do the work. Do the work by yourself, the inner work. Work with your partner. But then if that’s like, “Yep, we tried it. It didn’t work” then feel no shame, no guilt about, okay, this is available for us. Let’s explore it.

Jessica: We feel the same way. We’re always telling people we’re not encouraging people to get divorced. But if you find yourself in that situation, it doesn’t have to be horrible. But you also talk about using divorce as empowerment and not as trauma. That’s an amazing message.

Olga: Yeah, well, one thing that I want to say about what we were just mentioning, I’ll be amazed if I can convince someone who is happy in their marriage to get a divorce just because I talk about it. And honestly, it’s like, what are you talking about? I’m only speaking to the people who are already feeling it. All that I say is I don’t even give you the permission. I just want to tell you this is what’s happening. Don’t get left behind because you’re still living in the paradigm of your parents. Society is changing, relationships are changing. This is something that you might want to look into.

T.H.: I just want to say one thing before you move on. There’s still a huge stigma around divorce. But the more the press shows you about this celebrity couple and that celebrity couple, and after two years, they decided to call it quits. They make it sometimes sounds so casual. Then I would imagine that people are looking when they’re going through CVS looking at all the magazines: “They split. He cheated. She stole.” You’re like, alright, well, I mean, if they’re getting a divorce, I certainly can.  You know what I mean? Because theirs is so outlandish—I just am not happy. And the media blows it up. I’m sure that 90% of what we read in here isn’t even true. But the fact that these celebrities are moving on, and they’re role models for a lot of people, and idols for a lot of people, and they’re still idolizing them, even though they got a divorce. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you personally. You can do whatever you want with your life. But I feel like that’s why it’s almost a little bit more accepted, even though there’s still stigma. 

Jessica: Sure.

T.H.: Like J.Lo, seriously, who’s not judging her about all of her relationships, and marrying, and engaging, and breaking an engagement, and marrying, and this and that. We all have our fingers crossed for her and Ben, but who the hell knows? There was another one, and she went back to A-Rod. Like, whatever, at least we’re hearing something, whether it’s truthful or not. There’s a little bit less fear, because you’re looking at these major people. Then you’ve got Hillary Clinton who went back to Bill, despite all of the horrendousness that was everywhere. So you can make your own choices. I just wanted to put that in there. If you’re afraid, you can look at the celebrities. You can look at the three of us. We all have different stories, but it’s all been okay.


Olga: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and to answer Jessica’s question about how does it become empowerment instead of traumatizing? It’s what you were just saying about we all went through this, and we all came out on the other end. With some tools, whether you won or not, you’re going to learn a lot through this process. I always say you’re going to get a financial education, whether you’ve ever looked at a bank statement or not. You’re going to have to learn how to deal with your emotions somehow. That’s why I always say whether you want to work with a coach or not, you’re going to have to deal with that anger, with that grief, with that shame, with that guilt. So why not use this opportunity as an initiation? Instead of looking at it as, “Oh, my God, something is broken, and I’m breaking down, and it’s so terrible,” I always say instead of going through divorce, try to grow through divorce. What we do is we’re teaching our clients emotional intelligence. It may sound shocking, but we don’t have that in schools. We may have lived the first 30, 40 years of our life just dealing with our emotions in whatever way our parents taught us, society taught us, or our spirit tries and nudges us there and says this is how we should behave. But we haven’t really learned emotional intelligence. So to me, that was one of the biggest gifts of divorce. And I talk a lot about the gifts of divorce, the unexpected gifts. When you’re going through it, trust me, you’re not going to believe that anything is okay. You’re going to be so overwhelmed, so angry, so tired. Everything is going to be horrendous. But there are little seeds that you’re planting during the process. They’re going to flourish after. My opinion is why don’t we plant beautiful seeds? Why don’t we learn, like I said, about emotional intelligence? We love teaching our clients about conscious communication—another skill that should be taught in schools, yet it isn’t. I don’t want anyone sitting to negotiate with someone that they don’t really like anymore, who may have done something horrendous to them, to activate and trigger all their emotions. I don’t want you negotiating with them if you don’t know how to communicate consciously, because that’s going to turn really bad really quickly. So conscious communication, emotional intelligence, negotiation techniques, this is another part that I’m a coach, but I’ve also been a business woman for 20 years. If you’re a business woman, you deal with a lot of negotiation, and you learn pretty quickly how to get what you want. I love teaching that with women, because again, we are not being taught that. We’re being taught to take whatever is given to us, to not ruffle feathers, we don’t need that much. It really hurts me when I see women sitting at the negotiation table, or about to sign an agreement, that I look at it and I go like, “What is this?” And they’re like, “No, I’m fine. I’ll be okay with that.” I’m like, “Will you, because this is going to last the rest of your life?” And you know that this ex of yours is going to get a new girlfriend that is going to spend all the money that you’re saying, “Oh, I’ll leave it to them.” That’s one case. Another case is you may fight too much for money that you may be as well like, “Do you really need to? Is this something that you want to do?” So again, to me, feeling like you have some sort of emotional support and professional guidance, to learn all these skills, and then apply them to your own divorce one on one—because this is the other thing. It’s amazing that we’re all putting this information out there. You ladies do an incredible job with your podcasts, with your newsletters, with our Instagrams. Education is one part of the equation, but you also need that one on one tailored advice. The divorce that Jessica had, as far as I understand, is very different to the divorce that T.H. had.


Jessica: Yeah.


Olga: Best friends, husband’s going through similar situations—it’s all very unique. That’s why to me, you can’t really get the whole picture from a book. The book, the podcast, the Instagram can be the beginning of the education, but try and find that supported guidance, professionals. Friends, family, God bless them, they—


Jessica: Yeah, that is not what you need.


Olga: That is not what we need. The last part of the equation that will empower you instead of traumatizing you and can have beautiful ramifications for your future, is to try and find support, and again, support surrounding divorce. Get into groups that are going through the same experience. I know that some of my clients get put off by the idea right away, because they’re like, “Well, I don’t want to be bitching in some Facebook group with a whole bunch of random strangers.” Sure enough, there may be some of those groups. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about finding a community. We’re all building those communities where we elevate together and we share our experiences, not in a victim way, but in an empowering way, in an inspiring way. So to me, if you can get those three: education, guidance, and support aligned, trust me, you will be way more empowered and way more resilient at the end of this process.


Jessica: I mean, I love your messaging. I know T.H. does also.


T.H.: Yeah.


Jessica: We feel like it’s so completely aligns with everything that we talk about: empowerment, education, knowing what direction you’re going into. Most importantly, knowing that divorce sucks. Whether you initiate it, whether you want it, all the things, it sucks. But it doesn’t have to be that way for the rest of your life. There’s so much opportunity and so much to look forward to. You’re right, Olga, it takes a while to get there. You are planting these seeds, and it’s so hard to see beyond. You can’t imagine that you’re going to see that stuff grow. Then when you do, you’re a little ways out, a little further out, a little further out. Now T.H. and I, we’re 15 years out, and it’s so different now than it was 10 years ago. But the idea of what you have the capacity to do and the opportunity to do once you acknowledge that this is not the relationship that you want, this is not the life that you want, it can be all good afterwards. We’re always trying to let people know like, yeah, it’s scary, and it sucks, and it’s all those things.


T.H.: I spoke to a woman today and she was just so afraid to not placate her husband, who by the way, is living with his girlfriend, because she was afraid the kids were going to think badly of her. I flipped it around, and I said, “Do you want to say that again? Say it again out loud and listen to what you just told me. Who’s not looking good here?” I think that people need to just talk through what’s on their mind in a safe space that has no judgment, and they can be heard, and they’re not going to feel dumb. Because she also in the same vein said, “You know, he says I’m really picky. I’m really annoying. I’m a nag.” “Do you think those things?” She said, “No.” I said, “Okay, so let’s talk about what you just said again.” They just need a sounding board. That’s what we, I think all three of us, are really providing to people. We are a sounding board so that you can make your best choices, and you’ll make them on your own. You just need someone to hear it. You need to put it out into the world in a safe, private setting.


Jessica: Yeah.


T.H.: So that you can then own your decision to not say, “Well, Olga said this, and T.H. said that, and Jessica said this.” Instead, you can say, “I’ve decided,” and feel good about the choices that you’ve made. I also love everything you’re saying. You’re making it’s so simple to understand. You’re also a girlfriend through it all. There’s clarity around there. It’s possible because there’s clarity. So thank you so much, Olga.


Olga: Talking about empowerment, about women who have been in marriages where they had to play a very submissive role, and then they go through divorce. Again, if they’re being guided and they’re being taught how to negotiate, I always say negotiation doesn’t have to be nasty. It’s the opposite. I’m teaching people persuasion techniques, where the other person thinks it was their idea, and you’re getting your way. So to me, it’s like, training these women and coaching these women to ask for what they really want and for what they deserve, it’s a technique, it’s a tool, it’s a skill that then they’re going to use for the rest of their life. The relationship that they had with their partner, they’re setting the foundation for a new type of communication, for a new type of relationship, where that person gets to say in very conscious ways, “This is what I need. This is what I want. Let’s make it happen.” So, yeah, to be the transformation can be absolutely fabulous. I think I told you before some of my best friends came from the divorce connection. I feel that women who have gone through the initiation of divorce, there’s always a before and an after. It could be that you can get better, or you can get bitter. Again, what are you going to choose? What are you going to do with this experience?

Jessica: Alright, well, that’s a place to end because we preach the same songs.

T.H.: Love it.

Jessica: Thank you so much, Olga, for taking the time. This is all amazing. We would love to talk to you more about this moving forward. For everyone listening, if you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Divorce etc… podcast with the exEXPERTS today, then please help us out. Because when you subscribe, rate, and review, it helps us get the word out so we can support more people like you going through divorce and beyond. Check the show notes for more info on Olga, her book, and the Holistic Divorce Institute. And of course, share this episode with anyone you know who could benefit from listening. Have a great day.

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