Hear the ins and outs of divorce coaching. A Certified Divorce Coach can actually help simplify your divorce. We get an overview of the coaching process and why it might be something you need.
- Certified Divorce coaching is a safe and successful primary step before getting a divorce lawyer or a mediator
- A certified divorce coach can help you decide between a divorce lawyer or mediator
- Doing inner personal work to establish a healthy frame of mind when going through the divorce process
- Addressing present and past trauma/abuse when going through divorce
OUR GUEST – KATE ANTHONY – Divorce Survival Guide
Welcome to another episode of the exEXPERTS DIVORCE etc… Podcast where we give you all kinds of information and tips on everything divorce. Why? We’ve lived it, so we get it! We’re Jessica and T.H.
T.H.: We are thrilled today to have Kate Anthony here with us. She is the host of the critically acclaimed and New York Times recommended podcast, the Divorce Survival Guide podcast, and the creator of the groundbreaking online coaching program, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, which helps women make the most difficult decision of their lives using coaching tools, relationship education, geeky neuroscience, I want to hear more about that, community support, and deep self-work. I found her from her podcast, It’s Not Your Fucking Job, and I just had to know more. We are thrilled to have you here with us today, Kate.
Kate: I’m so happy to be here with you guys too. Thank you so much for having me.
T.H.: Let’s get into this. I mean, we’ve spoken a little bit about how you got into coaching and your positive divorce after your not so positive marriage, but
why coaching? I mean, where does coaching even come from? The first thing that comes to my mind is I need a lawyer, so what’s a coach?
Kate: Yeah, oh, that’s such a great question. Yeah, the first thing that comes to your mind is certainly you need a lawyer, which is not the first thing you should do. When you decide to get a divorce, everyone’s like, lawyer up, lawyer up! No, that’s the worst thing you can do. Because when you are in that heightened emotional state, you’re going to make some, possibly, not always, but possibly questionable decisions based out of the emotional heat that you’re in, right? I always say that when you’re getting divorced, you’re making the biggest legal and financial decisions of your entire life in the middle of the biggest emotional upheaval of your entire life, and it’s a terrible combination. The first thing you should do is hire a coach, hire a therapist, but please hire a therapist who is an expert in divorce. We often think that a therapist is a therapist, right? They all know everything. They really don’t, you guys. They really, really don’t. God love them, right? But they can’t be an expert in everything. Just as you would not hire a money mindset coach to help you through your divorce, or a holistic nutrition coach to help you through your divorce. You want to hire a divorce coach, someone who has experience in this and not just life experience. I happen to have both, I have life experience, but I also have years of training and decades of experience with professional experience in this arena. You want to hire someone, and if you do that, it will save you money in the long run. Because if you go out, what people don’t realize is that when you go out and you lawyer up, you are immediately creating a container of contention. This is now your lawyer versus my lawyer, as opposed to two individuals going, what’s in the best interest of our children? Look, as far as I’m concerned, if you don’t have kids, and you want to waste all of your money on litigation, go for it. But the litigation system is designed to put children in the middle, and working with a coach can help you keep them in the center, and help you process those emotions, and get you out of your resentment and blame and all of that, and come to it from a much more neutral standpoint, which will far benefit your children beyond exponentially.
Jessica: I mean, first of all, I want to say the distinction of making sure that you have a therapist who has experience with divorce is such an interesting thing to think about because I don’t know that I’d ever thought about it before you said it. I think you’re right. Most people think a therapist is going to help me get through whatever challenges I’m dealing with, and that’s so important. Then the idea of divorce coaches, which T.H. and I have become so interested in over the last several months, because it was not a thing 13 years ago when she and I got divorced–
Kate: It was not.
Jessica: No it was not. The idea that you can have someone that’s helping to guide you through this process, I think a question that a lot of people might have is, well, then is your divorce coach, is that person helping you find your lawyer? I mean, at a certain point we all need to have a lawyer. There are times where you can sit down with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and say okay, what’s in the best interest for the kids? That person is not going to be capable of having that conversation with you, and it is just going to be acrimonious and contentious. Sometimes we have to just accept that and be like, okay, well we’re going to get a lawyer.
I think that people are going to want to know what’s your role in helping us get a lawyer?
Kate: That’s a great question. I also help people decide whether they need an attorney, a mediator, or if they’re going to go through collaborative divorce, or by the way, they can file online, so not everyone does need a lawyer. Look, if there are a ton of assets, you probably do, or at least you need a certified financial divorce analyst, so a CDFA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. If there are tons of assets, you might need an attorney just to hammer stuff out, but a mediator is just as good, and not all mediators are attorneys by the way. But if you go and you quote, ‘lawyer up’ first thing, that attorney cannot be your mediator, because that’s a conflict of interest. If you’ve put down a $5,000 retainer, and you’re keeping that retainer up to date, and you’ve sunk thousands of dollars into your attorney, and then you decide, you know what, I think I’m going to mediate, you have to start all over again. Again, people rush into it, and especially I think women because 69% of divorces are initiated by women.
Jessica: It’s just such an interesting fact in and of itself.
Kate: Isn’t it though? Is it surprising?
Jessica: I think so because I think that one of the old fashioned maybe perspectives of divorce is a lot of men pushing the wives out for the younger model. And so I think that the fact that the overwhelming percentages of divorce are initiated by women, I think that’s an interesting fact.
T.H.: But what does it mean to initiate? I mean, he could have really been initiating because he was being pushing you away and acting in all these irreverent ways, so he actually initiated but didn’t speak the words, I want to divorce. She’s the one who’s like, I’m done here, thank you very much, but he may have really been the one initiating it with his behavior.
Kate: And by the way, that statistic is based on who submits the paperwork, who files first. Who always does the paperwork?
Jessica: Well, that’s true.
T.H.: I gotta tell you, I was so annoyed that I didn’t get to file for divorce in my situation. I was like, seriously, you’re filing? We’re supposed to sit down. I was like, god, at least give me that.
Kate: Right. Right.
Jessica: I think we need a conversation about that, like, I want to be the one to file.
Kate: Sure. And in some states, sometimes it just doesn’t matter. In some states, it actually does. I can’t remember, I think it was Kansas that has some insane law that whoever files first, I can’t remember, but it’s like there’s some benefit. I mean, it’s archaic, it’s awful, and of course patriarchal, and of course all the things misogynistic, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So 25% of divorces are initiated by women, but also, the worst statistic of that is that 25% of people getting divorced have been to any couples counseling.
Jessica: Have not?
Kate: No, 25 have. 75 have not.
T.H.: We didn’t. We didn’t.
Kate: We did not.
T.H.: It was a slow burn. I mean, there was just no–but we have spoken to experts about discernment therapy and all that. Back to your initial statement about whether you should stay or go, let’s take a few steps back now again. Okay, so I want a divorce, do I interview divorce coaches?
How do I know you’re a good divorce coach? What kind of criteria do you have to have to be a good divorce coach?
Like, a lawyer’s got all the cases and you know that you want him to handle or she to handle family law and how many have you done.
But for a coach, are there criteria?
Kate: I mean it’s a great question. I think what you want to look for is someone who is trained as a coach. There is no shortage of divorce coaches out there who are people who have gone through divorce, and now want to coach other people.
Jessica: But have had no training to do it.
Kate: Have had no training whatsoever. And unfortunately, the coaching industry is completely unregulated. You would never ever be like, I’m a therapist now.
T.H.: I gotta be honest, we’ve spoken to a lot of experts who are now also calling themselves coaches, and it’s because–
Kate: Are they trained?
T.H.: But what does training mean? Where are you getting your training? Is it regulated? Is it not?
Kate: Well, it’s not. There is a governing body. There’s a governing body called the International Coaching Federation, they have a very, very, very high standard of qualification. The program that I went to is the most highly accredited that they offer. When you get certification through them, you automatically get accreditation through the International Coaching Federation. So there is a governing body, but there’s no licensure, because they want to maintain the freedom that we have to work across state lines. If you have a therapist and you move to another state–
Jessica: Right. And there’s whole different set of implications there.
Kate: Right. And I know a lot of therapists who are no longer working as therapists, and they’re working as coaches so that they can do this. But there are things you want to look for. You want to look for someone who is certified by a reputable coaching organization. You can check the ICF to find out if they are. There are also now divorce coach certifications. Now, I know nothing about them, because I started divorce coaching before there was such a thing as a certification. So to me, I’m skeptical of them. Sometimes I’m like, I mean, is this just somebody’s–?
Jessica: Made a version of what you actually did.
T.H.: A marketing ploy.
Kate: I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. I haven’t gone through the program, so I don’t know. But I do wonder if it’s just someone who’s, oh, now I’m a divorce coach. I went through a divorce, so now I’m a divorce coach, so now I’m going to create a certification. Anyone can create a certification. Tomorrow, I could be like, I’m going to certify. Come to my class for $2,000 for the weekend, and at the end, I’m going to give you a certificate that says you’re certified. By whom? In what? And so I don’t know. What I do know is that there’s a lot–as a divorce coach there’s–I mean, look, again, this is a new industry. People say that I’m one of the pioneers of the divorce coaching industry, because I’ve been doing it for 10 years. Listen, I had the hardest time starting my business because nobody understood what I did.
Jessica: That’s becoming part of the vernacular now in the last couple of years. People are starting to have heard the expression and think, do I need this, and what’s the value added?
Kate: That’s exactly right. To answer your question T.H. too, people come to me from listening to my podcasts. They know. They know me, they know my–I mean, I’ll talk openly about my certifications and the study that I’ve done. I’m certified in individual coaching. I’m also further trained in another year and a half’s worth of training in couples work doing Gottman-based family systems based work, so like relationship work, family systems work. They’ll listen to my podcast and there is a sense that I actually know what I’m talking about.
T.H.: And the other thing is people just need to know that when you decide you want to get a divorce, you still have homework to do. In my mind, you think, okay, great. I’m going to hire a divorce coach, and he or she is going to take care of a bunch of shit for me and make my life so much easier. The truth is, no matter what, no matter where you’re going to start, you have to do your homework, which I didn’t do. I went to a friend, she said go to that lawyer. I spewed all my stuff all over her desk. I spent an exorbitant amount of money and time and four years. I’m not sure how different it would have been in the end because of my situation. Every divorce is different, and it only takes one person to drag you through the court system. I didn’t want it, but you don’t have a choice sometimes. I just think that an important message to everybody is take a deep breath, get your lay of the land, and then what do you tell them? What would you tell them, Kate? When you interview them for the first time, and they’re like, oh my god, this happened, that happened. I need help. I don’t know what to do.
What are your top questions that you ask them to see first of all, is this someone you want to take on? And also, to help figure out what direction are you going to go with this person?
Kate: Yeah, I mean, I really listen for personal responsibility and not just he this, he this, he this. And I also work with so many women who are coming out of emotional abusive situations that they’re actually taking on too much. And so their entire worldview is it’s my fault, or he says I’m doing this, I’m confused, I don’t understand.
So there’s a lot of that. I don’t have specific questions because everybody’s story is so different. But what I do say is the first thing you want to do is educate yourself. You have got to start to edu–and that’s why you hire a divorce coach. You hire someone who is an expert in divorce, so that I’m guiding you along this path. Every time you come to a roadblock, you’re like I don’t even know what my options are. I literally don’t know. It’s like walking into a grocery store in a foreign land. You’re standing in the aisle, and you’re like, I don’t know which is milk and which is apple juice. This makes no sense to me, right? And so my job is to be like, oh, so listen, here’s what milk looks like in this country, and here’s how it’s packaged, and here’s what apple juice is like. And so, you just have to decide for your meal, whether you want to choose one or the other. My experience would be that this would probably not work for you, based on what you’re telling me about your ex’s, or soon-to-be ex, or husband’s whatever, temperament or what he said. You may want to consider this, but here is how this looks and why it’s maybe more difficult or easier for you. So you want someone who’s sort of translating. Then I also really help people, because I’ve been doing this for so long, I help with the conversation. How to have difficult conversations, how to tell someone you want to divorce in a way that will be heard and will land and will not get you into a shitload–can I say that on your podcast?
Jessica: You can, and I want to get into that more specifically about the whole will you stay or will you go, but just for a second to back up for a moment. T.H. and I are always saying what you’re saying, the message of people who are going through divorce, obviously, for the first time, you just don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know what direction to go in, and you don’t know what all of your options are. And so it’s usually beneficial to have someone help, shepherding you down the path that might be the best fit for you versus you may not even know if you grabbed a lawyer right away if their specialty is litigation, and that’s not even what the direction that you want to go. And so I do think there’s so much value to working with someone that can give you a lay of the land of what the options are. But the ‘should I stay or should I go?’
I mean, presumably, you have people who are coming to you saying I might want to get divorced, and I don’t know if I should? How do you navigate that?
Kate: Yeah, it’s a process. It’s a very long process, but it’s a process. The first thing we do, the very first thing we do, because so much of the discernment process is ‘is it him or is it me?’ He says it’s me, I think it might be him, but I’m not sure. I don’t understand. And at the end of the day, we have to start with us. So the first step in the process is always internal. In my online program, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ the very first module is all about ourselves. It’s about our own values. And it’s not values, like corporate values that you pick off of a list, there’s a very deep process for mining for personal values, where sometimes it’s like, it’s fine, he’s fine. I just ugh. And a lot of times that’ll be answered in the value section. It’s like, oh, look, I have a strong value around personal development, I’m hiring a coach, obviously, but my husband has never been to therapy in his life and he doesn’t believe in it. Well, that’s a misalignment of values. There’s no right or wrong there. I mean, there is, but whatever [laughs]. But take the judgment out of it–
T.H.: It’s a matter of opinion, I mean.
Kate: Right. Right, but take the judgment out of it, and it’s just a misalignment. So we do that work, we do internal inner-critic work, and we do a lot of family history. We’re all given this relationship blueprint from generations. This is a generation’s long blueprint, and we have to work to understand it. Who we are when we come into a marriage? What are we expecting? What are we looking for? What’s our wounding? Is it my wound that he keeps rubbing up against? Or is he’s like stabbing me with a pencil every day? What is it? Often it’s both, because we choose the people that most mirror our–you know, all that stuff. So we start there, and then we move into–I do a lot of work on social cultural impacts, a lot of work on the patriarchy and how it makes women feel about their relationships, or what their expectations are, and why we are so fucking exhausted all the time. Is that just a function of this is what it’s like to be married in the 21st century? Or is it a function of you’re actually married to someone who is perpetuating that in a really toxic way? And then we get into abuse and breaking down all the kinds of abuse and what that looks like and what it feels like. Then we get into the more interpersonal stuff around communication styles, attachment styles, all of that other relationship stuff and what does a healthy relationship even supposed to look or feel like?
Jessica: It sounds like a lengthy process. Someone comes to you and wants to decide in 24 hour period, whether or not they want divorce. But I’m curious, what is the average length for you with this process with someone when they come to you when they’re not sure? What’s the average length? And I’m also curious what the percentage is that moves forward with divorce versus staying?
Kate: Yeah, so look, people who are in healthy, happy relationships are not googling ‘should I stay or should I go?’ in the middle of the night. People who are in healthy, happy relationships are not listening to my podcast and trying to figure out the answer to this question. They’re not in my Facebook group. They’re not, right? So the data set is a little skewed. What ends up happening is–listen, the length of the process really depends. If you’re doing my online program, which I just described all the modules of, if you’re doing an online program, you can go through that as quickly or as slowly as you want. A lot of people take a lot of time, because it’s a lot of information, and it can be really hard to process. It was designed to take three months. It’s a 12 week kind of thing, one module a week, but really, you can sit down and do it and knock it out in a weekend, if you must.
T.H.: But it depends on where you’re starting from. If you’ve been in this frame of mind for such a long time, it probably takes a few weeks to go through each module because you’re still dealing with your own like, wait, that’s me? I did that? Or I’m responsible for this? Assuming responsibility, I feel, for me anyway, was a big growing thing, and it did not happen overnight, and nor would I expect it to. I wasn’t really watching it while I was going through it, but now looking back, I mean, I don’t know when it happened exactly, I know there was a hallelujah on the day that I got the phone call, and I knew that I was out of my marriage, but I was very upset for my kid. But then that’s a whole other thing. I was happy. We’re done. Okay, what do I do about my kids? I don’t want my kids to be–so I think–
Kate: You have a lot of education on there too. It’s a lot of education.
T.H.: It can be very complicated, I’m sure.
Kate: It is. We have had such terribly toxic information about what screws up kids and how divorce is ‘bad for kids’ and how it’ll fuck them up for life, and they’ll be drug addicts and alcoholics.
Jessica: They’re better off in a home where the parents are fighting all the time. The parents are —
T.H.: And they’re terrible role models.
Jessica: And those are the relationships that you’re modeling now for your kids to have. That’s way better.
Kate: Exactly! Exactly, and this is why it’s generational. This is why the relationship blueprint and the relational trauma that you are carrying is generational because your parents didn’t get out, or they did, but they did it in a horribly toxic way. Divorce itself, statistically speaking, there have been studies that have been done that divorce does not screw up our kids. Contentious rage-filled protracted litigation battles will fuck up your kids.
Jessica: And contentious marriages will fuck up your kids.
T.H.: And the people.
Kate: Yeah, contentious marriages. Living in a hellscape of anger and resentment, whether it’s out loud or it’s just simmering below the surface, you think you’re hiding it, you guys, and you’re not. You’re definitely not.
T.H.: No, definitely not. My kids would say you guys were always fighting, and we were never fighting. We were communicating, but the silence, the silence is fighting. The silence and the tension in the air, and your facial expression, and your body reaction, you don’t have to say a word. And my kids remember us fighting, and it’s very interesting to see that. It’s something to look at for yourself for sure.
Jessica: TH and I were talking about this earlier,
what would you say are maybe the top three biggest concerns for women that are coming to you who’ve decided to move forward with divorce?
Because there presumably is some kind of a common thread among–
Kate: Sure. I mean, their kids for one thing (are one of the biggest concerns). Their kids, 100%, for sure. The other thing is am I going to do this again? Am I going to choose the same kind of relationship yet again? And then it’s co-parenting. Really, it’s if I have to have a relationship with this person for the rest of my life, how am I going to do so without being–I mean, again, it depends on the dynamic in the relationship. If it’s been a super toxic high conflict relationship, it’s boundaries, boundaries, boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. I mean, divorce is the biggest boundary there is, but it’s a lot of boundaries. This is the, it’s not my fucking job conversation. It’s this it’s not your fucking job to take care of the kids when they’re on his time. I had someone post on my Facebook group yesterday and it just broke my heart. She said my soon-to-be ex is taking our daughter away on a vacation. Am I supposed to pack for her?
Jessica: Well, wait, hold on, because before you answer, I just want to go in because I’ve no idea where you’re going with it. If you are the primary custodial parent and the child lives with you 99% of the time, and all their stuff is in your house, then yeah, pack. But I think if your kids are 50/50 and they have stuff there, then I think that they can handle it. That’s my two cents about that.
Kate: I totally agree. If it’s custodial, if you’re 99, yes, sure, but I don’t know if it’s still your job to do the packing. So maybe he needs to say, hey, do you have or I’m going to need an extra sweater, right? He should be initiating it. If it’s his trip, he needs to initiate it. And this is a control thing, right? He’s going to fuck it up.
Kate: Let him fuck it up.
T.H.: And your kid is going to suffer.
Kate: And my kid’s going to suffer. Look, there’s a Target where you’re going. I’m sure there’s a Target. You can run out to the store and buy whatever is missing. Let him fail. Let him fail. This is what we do all the time as women. We’re so fed up with the fact that it’s all our job. It’s always our fucking job all the time, and we’re exhausted by it, and we’re fed up by it, but we don’t stop doing the jobs.
T.H.: You enable it.
Kate: And so we enable it. I remember when I first got divorced, I’d been a stay at home mom, it was my job, and all of that was my job. And then when I got divorced, the very first weekend that there was a birthday party on my ex’s weekend, he called me in a blind panic because he didn’t know what to do, like, I don’t know what to get him. I don’t know. And I’m like, you’ll figure it out. You’ll figure it out. He said, but I don’t know what he likes. I’m like, I bet his mom does. Like, I’m not running to Target to buy a present. And listen, I took my hands off of it, and I said you are smart man. I’m 100% sure you’ll figure this out, and he did. And by the way, he also showed up to many birthday parties without anything for the kid. He would bring a present weeks later, like, oh, it’s no big deal, I can do it later, until I think someone gave him some feedback about that. That wasn’t me.
T.H.: Well, what you just said–
Jessica: [Inaudible] and I do think it was a reflection on me that my kids went to birthday parties, dropped off by their dad, empty handed with no gifts.
Kate: Sure, and if someone says something to you be like, I’m sorry, it was like–I’m trying to–
Jessica: No one ever said anything. I just think it was a reflection on me.
Kate: But it wasn’t.
T.H.: But people do chirp and make you believe the other way. Like, she didn’t even make sure that he had a gift to bring. It’s society that feeds the flame every time.
Kate: And I would say that be the person in your friend group that says, maybe that’s not her fucking job.
Kate: Right? Be the one that when people start gossiping and chirping about it, you smash that shit down. Smash it down. She’s going through a divorce, and she’s taking her hands off, and she’s divorcing this man because she’s tired of doing all the work.
T.H.: Because the way you just said that you spoke to your ex husband about getting the gift, you said you’re a smart man, so you’re starting with the positive. So when it’s you who’s dealing with someone who doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to know, or doesn’t even care, I assume you’re practicing what you preach, right? You’re saying to them, well, if he’s being a jerk, say, listen, you’re a smart man, you can figure this out, instead of being like, you’re an effing A, and go screw yourself, and go frick’n figure it out. So that’s not going to get you anywhere.
Kate: No, listen, my friend Susan, Susan Guthrie, calls me the communication queen, because I teach communication. I taught communication for years in corporate America. I was going into Fortune 500 companies teaching communication, so this is my jam. I teach people how to have really hard conversations in ways that they can be heard. So if my ex was like, I don’t know what to get him, and I was like, you dumb MF, what are you fucking thinking? You have a three year old. That’s not effective communication. Effective communication is when you get the other person to hear you, and perhaps do something that you want them to do, right? So for me to say to my ex, you are a smart cookie. I know you haven’t done this before, but I know that you’re going to figure this out, and my boundary is that I’m not going to do this for you. He heard that, and he was like, oh, yeah, that’s right, I am. No man wants to be seen as incompetent. They all want to walk into the birthday party as the Superdad who’s doing this divorce, and I’ve got this, and I don’t need her. They all do, whoever initiated it. They don’t want the stereotype of the bumbling dad to apply to them.
T.H.: Well, Kate, I mean, I’m so glad that you’re doing what you’re doing for so many reasons, honestly.
Kate: Thank you.
T.H.: And you’re an absolute pleasure. I wish that you were my coach, because I could feel like you would have been my friend and would have had my back [totally] instead of going through the court system of all the what not to dos.
Kate: Unfortunately, I was going through it at the same time [laughs] as you.
T.H.: Yeah, seriously. We’re like a sisterhood of our own.
Kate: That’s true, and I’m so glad you guys are doing what you’re doing and bringing more awareness. It’s just all the awareness is needed, so it’s great.
Jessica: Thank you.
T.H.: We’re hoping to make a difference, right? That’s what we’re all doing. We’re going to try to make divorce easier. It’s not a negative thing, it’s an opportunity for you to revamp, re-look at things for yourself, and then make it better.
Kate: Heal and grow. Heal and grow.
Jessica: We still can continue this conversation more. I mean, there’s so much more to talk about. Thank you so much. I’m sure everyone listening really appreciates all of your insight. All of Kate’s information and contact information, links to her website and the program’s are all going to be on exEXPERTS. You can log on there at www.exexperts.com and our podcast is up, as is Kate’s, which is definitely a must listen. As T.H. mentioned before, both of our favorite episodes are the ‘It’s not your fucking job’.
T.H.: That has to be your first listen to. Just start there.
Goodbye: For everyone out there listening, if you know anyone at all who would benefit from what we talked about today please share this episode and everything exExperts. Be sure and click to subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts and please follow us on social media @exEXPERTS DIVORCE etc… on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube. Thanks for listening!
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