Preparing For Divorce While Hoping He Changes

by | Abuse Literacy, Divorce

Hoping For The Best While Preparing For Divorce

You weren’t planning for betrayal and abuse when you got married. You were planning on a healthy, loving relationship. But your partner crossed lines and shows little hope of changing. Your safety must come before your relationship (your relationship is already compromised by his choices).

Often, victims of betrayal and abuse hope that their abusive partner will change. At BTR, we believe that every abuser is capable of changing – if he commits to the lifelong work of living amends. However, it’s important for women to protect their safety in every way. This includes preparing for divorce – even when they’re hoping for the best.

Why Should I Prepare For Divorce? Self-Empowerment While You Wait

For many women, life feels like limbo after discovery of betrayal and/or abuse. They may feel frozen, numb, and lethargic from trauma.

However, it’s important for women to stay emotionally and physically healthy by making necessary choices to protect themselves from further abuse.

One of the actions that women can take post-discovery is simply learning about the divorce process. This not only gives women invaluable insight into the process they may end up taking, but is an empowering action that women can take to break through traumatic lethargy.

Preparing For Divorce Because It’s “One Way Or The Other”

Men abuse and betray women from a sense of entitlement, need to control, and lack of respect for their partners.

When a man has chosen to destroy a woman’s life by abusing and betraying her, he is essentially already breaking the marriage vow and covenant.

Trauma often causes women to experience tunnel vision and it’s difficult to see that anything can really exist beyond this moment, but by preparing for divorce, women are able to open their minds and eyes to the truth that they will have a future of safety, regardless of what their partner decides.

You deserve a future of safety, regardless of what your partner decides.


Preparing For Divorce Now Helps Circumvent Emotional Reactions

Tragically, trauma can dominate a woman’s ability to make clear choices during high-intensity moments.

By having already learned, prepared, and implemented proper steps toward divorce, women free themselves from having to process divorce preparation when they are experiencing debilitating trauma.

Prepare For Divorce Now To Protect Yourself Financially

A common tactic of narcissistic abusers is to suddenly cut the victim out of her own finances. It happens over and over and over again to women in the BTR community.

Even if your abusive partner has:

  • Promised you that he will never cut you off from the money
  • “Given you” your own bank accountant and/or allowance
  • Offered you “all the money” if you decide to divorce

Understand that these are controlling tactics designed to keep you in the marriage where he can continue abusing you. At any moment, he can turn and make the decision to take all of the money and leave you without resources. By preparing for this now, victims can minimize the trauma of sudden and severe financial abuse.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Betrayal & Abuse

Whether you are planning to stay or leave your abuser, preparing for divorce can empower you in protecting your own safety. All victims of betrayal and abuse deserve a safe space to process trauma, ask questions, gain insights, and make connections with other victims as they prepare for divorce.

That is why the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in multiple time zones – so that no victim ever has to go through this process alone.

Join today and receive the validation, support, and compassion that you deserve.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery. This is Anne.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Can Help You Prepare For Divorce

For only $125 per month, you’ll have access to unlimited live support. That’s more than 90 sessions per month for about the same cost as one therapy appointment, so check it out today.

Emotional Decisions Vs. Strategic Decisions

Many women will get caught off guard and are more likely to make emotional decisions instead of strategic decisions, where they’re looking out for their long-term wellbeing. As we know, they’re also likely to trust when trust isn’t deserved. So when you trust an untrustworthy person in divorce, sometimes that can come back to bite you.

I think for all those reasons it’s really important for women to have their own resources.

Anne: A lot of women don’t want to start prepping for divorce because they think it means they are getting divorced when they haven’t decided yet. They might think, “Well, that’s the worst-case scenario. I don’t even want to think about that because what I want to think about is my marriage working out and I want to put all my effort into recovery.” They might be doing sex addiction recovery or something like that.

“I Ask Them To Work On Parallel Paths”

It seems like women don’t realize, “Wow. I really need to start educating myself about divorce” until afterward because they don’t realize all the things they didn’t know.

Having been through betrayal trauma myself, I’m really knowledgeable about rebuilding safety and doing those things, but at the same time, we take baby steps. Let’s get copies of your financial documents. Let’s get a little bit more in the loop on your finances. Let’s start setting a little money aside.

Preparing For Divorce While Hoping He Changes

We just dip our toe into the water of getting ready. I tell them we’re going to give 150%. 100% to your marriage, and just maybe 50-40% to setting yourself up, just in case.

Preparation Is Key To Your Safety And Peace

In the case where you’ve been with an emotional abuser, which is usually what these partners are, you need to really be prepared for what could happen. The sense of entitlement that’s allowed them to behave in the ways they have during the marriage, is the same sense of entitlement that can flip a switch when the woman decides to divorce them.

So many women say, “He’s such a good guy. He’s never going to do this.” Then, suddenly, they find themselves in a situation where he is doing those things. I think it’s good to be prepared to know that this could happen to you. In part of that stage of trying to figure out if you are or aren’t, there is a stage of denial where you think, “No, that’s not going to happen to me.”

What Is “Spousal Starvation”?

I think all women should be required to read this book in high school or college, along with Why Does He Do That? Just be prepared and have it in the back of your mind so that you know what you’re up against.

Often, abusers will starve their spouses financially. Victims don’t want to believe it will happen to them.

What I tell clients is, “We hope that doesn’t happen. I hope your husband is a nice guy and negotiates fair throughout, but what harm would it do if we had a little emergency savings account?”

“He Would Never Do That”

Those are the women to whom I just want to say, “You know what, what would it hurt if we took a few steps to protect you just in case. I’m sure your husband will be the ‘model citizen,’ but what if?”

And we highly recommend that for everyone, no matter how much you think, “He would never do that.” The other thing is that, when you start getting healthier and you start setting boundaries, they’re either going to improve and start getting it or they’re going to get worse. It’s not going to stay the same. You’re going to start seeing new things happen as you make forward progress.

It will change one way or the other. Either they will have a sense of guilt, remorse, empathy or, like I said, that sense of entitlement will come bubbling to the surface. All of a sudden it becomes “their money” and “how dare you.”

Ask The “What-If” Questions

We just ask the “what-if” questions. You’ve had a friend go through a bad divorce, what if your husband did that? What position would that leave you in? If I just ask the “what-if” questions, we can maybe get them to take a few baby-steps to protect themselves.

My guess is, most of the women who listen to this podcast would have a high conflict divorce, I mean, if I just had to guess. With abusive men, when you do set a boundary, they get worse, right. If you’re considering a divorce or you’re starting the divorce process and he’s abusive, it will get worse. I think you can count on that.

I don’t know in what way or how, but it will get worse. The reason is he wants to hurt you, as a way of maintaining his power. This is something that listeners really need to understand.

Betrayal And Preparing For Divorce

In this day and age, it just seems like betrayal is rampant, and sometimes it’s financial betrayal. Sometimes, they actually don’t know for sure, they don’t have any proof, but a wife knows the truth. She might not know the facts, but she knows the truth.

I wonder, in those marriages where “there wasn’t a betrayal” and they think, “Oh, we’re just growing apart” or something, if pornography is involved somehow, they just don’t know it. I always wonder what is really going on. Just a sidebar there.

“There Is Often Financial Abuse Involved”

When you’re with an emotional abuser there is often financial abuse involved. These are women who may not have access to information about their marital finances. That makes it really hard to get started if you don’t even know what’s on the table to be divided. If you don’t have access to your own money that makes things really hard.

Number two, the other thing I see often is that the same “nice girl” attitude that kept the woman in that toxic marriage, is going to keep her in a one-down position in a high-conflict divorce or her husband will try to talk her into mediation. She still feels like she doesn’t have the power and the voice to stand up for what she deserves and what is legally hers.

I say, they wait until they’re hit by a bullet before they put on their armor. They’re already hemorrhaging, they’re already bleeding, and now they’re trying to backtrack and figure out how to repair that.

Begin Planning Your Divorce Before The Process Starts

Women, listen, to all my listeners right now: You’re going to make him mad anyway, regardless, so that is not a good reason to not do something.

I hear a lot of women say, “If I play nice, then I’ll get more of what I want,” and that is not the case with a high-conflict divorce.

The thing is, for women that are in abusive situations, what I love to do is start creating this exit strategy in stealth-mode. I love working with them before the process starts.

We can do some of it in stealth-mode, so that when he gets crazy and does something, she’s at least got a few things in place. Things like copies of financial documents in a safe space because they disappear, some money set aside because money disappears. Those kinds of things.

“There Are No Winners In Divorce”

It’s important to note that there are no winners in divorce. Everyone walks away feeling like they didn’t get what they wanted. One thing I see very often, with betrayed women, is expecting the court system to mete out emotional justice, “He cheated on me so I should get more.”

Planning For Divorce With Intention And Integrity

“Why do I have to do with less? Why do I have to live in a small apartment? Why do I have to drive a used car?” Whatever the what-if is, or the why, that’s one of the things I work really hard to coach women on. Unless it’s something really egregious that’s going to shock the court, there is no emotional justice.

That’s the one thing we want to work with betrayed women on, in terms of setting expectations. What we want to come away from a divorce with is a settlement where we made decisions that were intentional and that we can feel good about. We had all the information we needed, and every choice was intentional.

Sometimes, you will give up something that you were entitled to in order to get something else. That’s okay, as long as it was an intentional decision. We just don’t want to come away feeling like we were missing information or we’re a victim because what that does—and you’ll get this—is it impacts their ability to recover afterward.

Planning For Divorce? You Need SUpport

Divorce can be a bump in the road, it doesn’t have to be your destination. Even though crappy things are happening and he’s being mean and unfair and you may not get everything you want, if you feel like you were informed and empowered, then you’re going to recover and move through that healing phase so much faster.

The BFF Backup And The Taskmaster

To deal with all of this, you need a BFF backup and a Taskmaster. Your Taskmaster friend is someone who might not sit with their arm around you, but they’re someone who will research attorneys for you, will do all the real estate legwork, will pick up your dry cleaning or go to the grocery store for you. Someone who will do the things that you’re too emotionally crippled to even deal with.

Then you need a safe place to share and be real because emotional regulation is key during this process. By regulating or managing your emotions, I don’t mean stuffing them. What I mean is having someplace safe with a coach, a therapist, a healthy friend or family member to get that stuff out so that you can be strategic in your planning. You want to be having a safe place to get those emotions out, and then you also want to get the affirmation that what you’re feeling is normal.

I’m constantly surprised when I talk with clients and they say, “I can’t remember where my keys are, and I can’t do this and I’m crying all the time.” I just affirm them and say, “Of course you are, of course, you feel that way. Look at what you’re going through.”

Planning For Divorce Takes Up Mental Space: Be Gentle With Yourself

In divorce care they tell you that, I think it’s up to 80% of your brain sometimes, can be occupied with thoughts about divorce. If you think about a computer, 80% of your computer’s RAM is busy processing thoughts about the divorce. Only 20%, then, is available for your daily living. Of course, you’re going to forget your keys.

BTRG Is Here For You

We have coaches who are experts on emotional abuse, experts on boundaries, and experts on divorce. They can help you move forward towards peace and safety. Whether that means that you remain married or you get divorced.

You are already living in the worst-case scenario, an abusive relationship. Figuring out how to make your home a peaceful place is your top priority. You can’t live in chaos and pain and neither can your children. Well, I guess you can, but you don’t deserve to.

You deserve peace and happiness. Especially if that’s what you want and you’re working toward. Especially if you are dedicated to living in healthy ways. If you want to be honest, if you want to be able to process your emotions, you deserve to be around other people who are like that. Not someone who is trying to take advantage of you or manipulate you or hide things from you.

Planning For Divorce Means Prioritizing You And Your Children Over Abuse

At the end of this, I just want to say that I genuinely believe in families. I love my children. There is nothing more valuable to me than family time, so I don’t wish divorce on anyone. I want safety and peace, and that’s what families are for.

We go out and we try to combat pornography in our communities, which is good, but if it’s happening in our own home it needs to start there. We need to change the world one home at a time, and it starts with us.

Until next week, stay safe out there.  

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  1. Lindsay Pollock

    Where can I find the sequel/second part of this podcast? This was Extremely helpful! THANK YOU


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