By: Susan Shofer
As a licensed private investigator, I heard my share of nightmare stores when it came to divorces. Just when I thought I had witnessed the most outrageous behavior in people in one case, another case would appear before me that made the outrageous one seem serene by comparison. It never ceased to amaze me how people, who once vowed to love and honor each other until death do they part, could be so evil and cruel to one another.
Many years ago, while working at my first job out of college, a colleague of mine was abandoned by her husband. Prior to his leaving, she had been a devoted wife and mother. Suddenly, her world was turned upside down. She had to work a fifty hour a week job and care for two small children–alone. Each day she came to work physically and emotionally exhausted as she juggled her job, children, and a house. While she did all this, her husband fled the country to set up a new life, in Europe, with his love interest. Before he left the country, he cleaned out all of their joint bank accounts that he held with my colleague. At the time, I was in my mid-twenties, with little life experience and a whole lot of opinion. I felt as though she must have done something to precipitate his leaving. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t blame her for her misfortune. To say she was a lovely woman is an understatement. I just had the belief that people don’t behave like her husband did unless there was a valid reason and that there must have been something lurking in the background to have initiated his leaving. Newly married myself, I was confident that I was immune to a similar circumstance. Again, I was very naive.
No one can chastise my colleague’s husband for having fallen out of love with her. He surely did not have to stay in a marriage if he wasn’t happy. However, it was the way he went about leaving the marriage that was cruel and dismissive. He not only made a unilateral decision to end the relationship but he chose to leave his children and take all the money; money of which half was hers. His behavior was contention at its very core. Sadly, my co-worker left the company soon thereafter, and we lost touch, so I don’t know the ultimate resolve of her marriage.
Two decades later and my story is very similar to hers, less the Europe relocation of my spouse. Throughout my journey so many people have availed themselves of unsolicited advice to me. Most of them never had experienced anything even remotely close to what I was going through so how on earth could they give me advice? The best advice, in almost any circumstance, should come from someone who has been through the same experience.
While I am not an attorney nor am I a therapist and don’t give any legal or therapeutic advice in this workbook, I have professional and personal experience with high conflict divorces. Throughout my divorce, I learned what was worth fighting for and what to walk away from. Most importantly, I know that you can’t change another person’s behavior. You can only change how you respond to it. This workbook is not about your spouse, ex-spouse or former partner. I have written this workbook for YOU so that you may climb the ladder to the best life you can imagine. The information I present in this workbook is from a compilation of my experiences and those of others who have gone through toxic divorces, all different but equally challenging.